Africans rush for chloroquine as virus tsunami looms

first_imgAfrica last in line? Even if the effectiveness of the drugs against coronavirus remains for now unproven, concern about securing enough of them already runs deep.Two decades ago, Africa, the continent worst hit by HIV, was last in line to get new antiretroviral AIDS drugs when the treatment emerged from the labs.”If it turns out that chloroquine is effective, Africa, which imports most of its drugs, perhaps won’t be a priority for (the pharmaceutical) industry,” said Professor Yap Boum of Epicenter Africa, the research arm of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).France has already imposed a ban on exporting chloroquine and Morocco has requisitioned all stocks of the drug.”You won’t find any in pharmacies in Yaounde, everyone is out of stock,” Boum said, referring to the Cameroonian capital.”Local people have been buying it, apparently without prescription, which is dangerous.”The Cameroonian government has officially asked health professionals “not to yield to the desire for profit” and to avoid prescribing chloroquine preventatively.AFP correspondents report frantic demand in pharmacies in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic hub, in the Angolan capital Luanda and also in Malawi — one of a handful of sub-Saharan nations where there are still no recorded cases of coronavirus.The rush is a deep source of anxiety for people with the auto-immune disease called lupus, which is also treated with chloroquine.In the Gabonese capital Libreville, Armelle Oyabi, head of an association of people with lupus, has been closely monitoring purchases at the only pharmacy left in the city that still has chloroquine.”I check that the drug is being given to people who actually need it,” she said.”If we can’t get this drug, we will not only be hit by lupus but also be more vulnerable to coronavirus.”Chloroquine has been part of the medical toolkit from before World War II — it was developed in 1934 as a synthetic derivative of quinine. Topics : Despite loud appeals for caution, Africans are rushing to embrace chloroquine, the venerable anti-malaria drug touted as a possible treatment for coronavirus.From hospitals in Senegal to pharmaceutical companies in South Africa and street sellers in Cameroon, chloroquine has fired hopes of a medicinal fix against a virus that is set to scythe through Africa’s poorly protected countries.Chloroquine and derivatives such as hydroxychloroquine have been used for decades as cheap and safe drugs against malaria, although their effectiveness in this field is now undermined by growing parasite resistance. Small-scale tests in China and France — either unpublished or outside the rigorous framework of mainstream drug trials — suggest that chloroquine reduces virus levels in people with coronavirus.On March 24, President Donald Trump said chloroquine could be a “gift from God” — a comment that sparked strident criticism. Health watchdogs have issued calls for caution until larger clinical trials are carried out, and there have been several recorded deaths from self-medication because of toxic side effects. Despite this, in many settings across Africa, chloroquine has been placed in the front line against coronavirus.center_img Backstreet sales Alice Desclaux, a doctor at the Institute of Development Research (IRD) in Senegal, said the risks from self-medication from chloroquine were largely rooted in illegal sales.”Chloroquine has always been on sale informally in Africa,” she said.”It’s still used to cause abortions” and even for attempted suicide, Desclaux said.In one backstreet pharmacy in Douala, Cameroon’s economic hub, the manager said he had run out of stock.For anyone who wished to order some, “careful, the price has gone up,” he said. A pill now changes hands for the equivalent of 71 US cents, four times more than a month ago.The chloroquine craze is not just affecting the black market for drugs — it is also spurring the production of counterfeit medications.Cameroon’s government has already issued a warning about fake chloroquine, samples of which have surfaced in health centers. Its rise stems partly from desperation, given Africa’s meager capacity to deal with a pandemic on the scale seen in Europe or the United States.Burkina Faso, Cameroon and South Africa have swiftly authorized hospitals to treat virus patients with the drugs.Around half of infected people in Senegal are already being prescribed hydroxychloroquine, Moussa Seydi, a professor at Dakar’s Fann Hospital, told AFP last Thursday.Every patient who was recommended the drug accepted it, “with no exceptions,” he said.In Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi last week declared it was “urgent” to produce chloroquine “in industrial quantities”.South Africa has already said it will join a large-scale trial, and one of the country’s biggest pharmaceutical companies has promised to donate half a million pills to the health authorities.last_img read more

Australian envoy to Indonesia relocates amid deepening COVID-19 crisis

first_imgThe ambassador is expected to depart for Australia soon.“This is purely a precautionary measure, related to accepted COVID-19 vulnerabilities,” it added.Read also: Australia closes internal borders as unsourced coronavirus cases riseDespite the decision, the department said Australia’s embassy and consulates in Indonesia are “resourced to continue to serve Australia’s interests, including by providing consular support to Australians at this challenging time”. Australia’s travel advisory for Indonesia over the last month has offered a blunt assessment of the local healthcare system, stating that the following few months would be “a hugely challenging period for local authorities and service providers”.As of Friday, Indonesia’s official COVID-19 tally is at 3,512 confirmed cases and 306 fatalities.Some foreign missions have already asked its citizens to leave Indonesia and return home, including the United States Embassy.Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar led a video conference with at least 120 foreign missions and international organization representatives in Jakarta.According to a press release from the ministry, Mahendra reassured the envoys that consular services for foreign missions and international organizations in Jakarta would be allowed to continue despite the outbreak, whether through face-to-face meetings by appointment, by phone or virtually.Topics : Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan has been recalled from his post as a precautionary measure, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced, as the COVID-19 health crisis deepens in IndonesiaIn view of the latest developments surrounding the disease, DFAT has asked Quinlan to relocate from Jakarta.“Based on medical advice, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan AO is being temporarily relocated to Australia. Ambassador Quinlan will continue to oversee embassy operations from Australia,” the department said in a statement on Thursday.last_img read more

South Korea, China cast doubt over reports North Korean leader Kim gravely ill

first_imgHowever, two South Korean government officials rejected the CNN report without elaborating on whether Kim had undergone surgery. The presidential Blue House said there were no unusual signs coming from the reclusive, nuclear-capable state.Kim is the unquestioned leader of North Korea and of its nuclear arsenal. He has no clear successor and any instability in the country could be a major international risk.An official at the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, which deals with North Korea, told Reuters the source did not believe Kim was critically ill. China is North Korea’s only major ally.South Korean shares exposed to North Korea tumbled and the Korean won fell on the reports. The won traded down more than 1% against the dollar even as South Korean government sources said Kim was not gravely ill. South Korean and Chinese officials on Tuesday cast doubt on reports North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was ill after media outlets said he had undergone a cardiovascular procedure and was in “grave danger”.Daily NK, a Seoul-based specialty website, reported late on Monday, citing one unnamed source in North Korea, that Kim was recovering after undergoing the procedure on April 12. The North Korean leader is believed to be about 36.CNN cited a US official with direct knowledge of the matter as saying Washington was “monitoring intelligence” that Kim was in grave danger after surgery. Bloomberg quoted an unnamed US official as saying the White House was told that Kim took a turn for the worse after the surgery. US stock futures were trading 0.5% lower, but it was not clear how much of that weakness was owing to the collapse in US oil prices and consequent concerns over global demand.Daily NK said Kim had been admitted to hospital on April 12, just hours before the cardiovascular procedure, as his health had deteriorated since August due to heavy smoking, obesity and overwork.It said he was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang.”My understanding is that he had been struggling [with cardiovascular problems] since last August but it worsened after repeated visits to Mount Paektu,” a source was quoted as saying, referring to the country’s sacred mountain.Accompanied by senior North Korean figures, Kim took two well-publicized rides on a stallion on the snowy slopes of the mountain in October and December.”Unlikely to leak”An authoritative US source familiar with internal US government reporting on North Korea questioned the CNN report that Kim was in “grave danger”.”Any credible direct reporting having to do with Kim would be highly compartmented intelligence and unlikely to leak to the media,” a Korea specialist working for the US government said on condition of anonymity.Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, declined to comment on the reports of Kim’s health.”We are regularly gathering and analyzing information about North Korea with great concern,” he said. “We will keep gathering and analyzing information regarding North Korea by collaborating with other countries such as the US”Kim’s potential health issues could fuel uncertainty over the future of the reclusive state’s dynastic rule and stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States, issues in which Kim wields absolute authority.Speculation about Kim’s health first arose following his absence from the anniversary of the birthday of its founding father and Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, on April 15.On April 12, North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong Un had visited an airbase and observed drills by fighter jets and attack aircraft.Two days later North Korea launched multiple short-range anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea and Sukhoi jets fired air-to-surface missiles as part of military exercises.The missile launches were part of the celebrations for Kim’s grandfather, Seoul officials said, but there was no North Korea state media report on his attendance or the tests.Reporting from inside North Korea is notoriously difficult, especially on matters concerning the country’s leadership, given tight controls on information. There have been false and conflicting reports in the past on matters related to its leaders.Kim is a third-generation hereditary leader who rules North Korea with an iron-fist, taking over the titles of head of state and commander in chief of the military since late 2011.In recent years Kim has launched a diplomatic offensive to promote both himself as a world leader and his hermit kingdom, holding three meetings with US President Donald Trump, four with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and five with China’s President Xi Jinping.He was the first North Korean leader to cross the border into South Korea to meet Moon in 2018. Both Koreas are technically still at war, as the Korean War of 1950-53 ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.Kim has sought to have international sanctions against his country eased, but has refused to dismantle his nuclear weapons program, a steadfast demand by the United States.center_img Topics :last_img read more

WHO promises ‘honest evaluation’ of how world handled COVID-19

first_imgIn May, Trump said the United States, the agency’s biggest donor, would pull out of the organization unless there were real reforms, a threat he followed up on this week by giving a one-year notice of withdrawal.”The President has been clear that the WHO needs to get its act together. That starts with demonstrating significant progress and the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks with transparency and accountability,” a senior US official in Washington told Reuters on Thursday.The WHO issued a statement saying the review was not linked to the United States and that its 194 member countries had asked in May for an evaluation of the global response.More than 12 million people are reported to have been infected by the novel coronavirus worldwide and 548,429​ have died since the virus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C., said the panel should not be “an inside job” driven by states close to the WHO, nor should it pander to what he called “Trump’s conspiracy theories”.”What is really vital is we have truly independent experts from a variety of disciplines that will honestly and frankly review the situation with COVID,” Gostin told Reuters.”Are they going to review China’s action, are they going to review WHO’s initial response to China, look at things like … WHO’s power to independently verify states’ reports?,” he added. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was setting up an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by governments.The announcement follows strong criticism by US President Donald Trump’s administration of the global agency’s role in the crisis – though the WHO said the review was not linked to the United States.Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark and former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have agreed to head the panel, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation, an honest evaluation,” Tedros told a virtual meeting with diplomats.The panel will provide an interim report to an annual meeting of health ministers in November and present a “substantive report” next May, he said.Trump has accused the WHO of being too close to China and not doing enough to question Beijing’s actions at the start of the crisis. Tedros has dismissed the suggestions and said his agency kept the world informed.Expertscenter_img Topics :last_img read more

Inter stalemate leaves Juve free to make it nine in a row

first_img Topics : Inter Milan’s goalless draw against Fiorentina on Wednesday left Juventus needing just one more win to claim a ninth consecutive Serie A title.Juve are six points clear of second-placed Atalanta and can claim their 36th ‘Scudetto’ on Thursday with a win at struggling Udinese.Antonio Conte’s Inter are third, one point behind Atalanta with three games to play, despite having dominated for long periods under the rain at the San Siro. “Second place is for losers,” said Conte, who coached Juventus to three of their current run of eight titles and then went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup with Chelsea.”I understand that there are those who are satisfied with this, but for me it is meaningless.”When you leave points, it means that there are shortcomings.”A Romelu Lukaku header hit the woodwork after 18 minutes with Alexis Sanchez also missing a chance for the winner just after the break. Brescia relegatedRoma, meanwhile, move back fifth ahead of AC Milan, who beat Sassuolo on Tuesday, after routing already-relegated SPAL 6-1.Bruno Peres scored a second-half brace with Carles Perez scoring his first Serie A goal for the visitors with Nikola Kalinic and Nicolo Zaniolo also on target.Zaniolo’s goal in the final minute was a superb individual run and finish and came after rumors of the rising star’s involvement in a dressing room bust-up.Roma are two points ahead of Milan, with the two teams already assured of Europa League football next season.Napoli are seventh, three points further back after falling 2-1 at Parma.Gianluca Caprari and Dejan Kulusevski ended a miserable run for Parma in a match in which all three goals were scored from the penalty spot.A run of six defeats and one draw in Parma’s previous seven matches was brought to an end thanks to the two spot-kicks which came late in each half.It was a second loss since the return of football in Italy for Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli, whose Champions League last 16, second leg match against Barcelona is weeks away.Napoli have already qualified for the Europa League after winning the Italian Cup.At the bottom of the table, Genoa beat city rivals Sampdoria 2-1 to stay four points ahead of Lecce who occupy the final relegation place.Lecce beat Brescia 3-1 to condemn their opponents to Serie B next season.Udinese go into Thursday’s clash with Juventus level on 36 points with Genoa and with their Serie A safety not yet assured. Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano pulled off a string of saves denying Nicolo Barella and Lukaku from close range.Inter’s place in the Champions League next season is assured but they could now finish fourth, with Lazio four points back ahead of their match with 13th-placed Cagliari on Thursday.”This year we have reaped less than what we have sown,” continued Conte.”We’re trying to work on the mentality and increase the killer-instinct, which a great team must have if it wants to fight for something important.”But I’m happy that the players are disappointed with the result, because it means that my work is making an impact.”Conte took over at Inter last summer, hoping to help the team win their first league title since 2010, the year of their unprecedented treble under Jose Mourinho.last_img read more

‘No compromise on nickel ban’: Ministry puts foot down on nickel price floor

first_img“The government will not compromise on the nickel export ban.”Indonesia, the world’s largest nickel ore producing country, has banned exports of the commodity since January to push miners to develop smelters and refine the metal ore domestically so they can export higher-value products.Analysts and economists have said that Indonesia’s downstream goal has potential, but the fallout between small nickel miners and nickel smelters points at pricing as a key point of contention in the plan.Read also: Ban on unrefined nickel exports positive in long run: Economist The government has threatened to sanction nickel businesses that fail to comply with nickel ore pricing regulations and, therefore, pose a risk to the country’s plan to develop its downstream mining industry.Nickel smelters are required to purchase nickel ore at government-pegged prices and nickel miners have to comply with a nickel ore export ban, the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister’s undersecretary of mining, Septian Hario Seto, warned in a statement on July 23.“Noncompliant companies will be sanctioned, which can be in the form of a warning, cut in export quotas or even permit termination,” he said. In protecting small nickel miners, specifically those under the Indonesian Nickel Miners Association (APNI), the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry implemented on May 13 a monthly price floor (HPM) for domestically sold nickel ore.The HPM is calculated based on the government’s mineral benchmark price (HMA), which is, in turn, based on average refined mineral prices from Beijing, Jakarta and the global benchmark London Metal Exchange (LME).While APNI lauded the price floor, the Indonesian Smelter Association (AP3I) strongly opposed it, arguing that even after the price floor was implemented, members preferred business-to-business deals to fix prices.“They know nickel is a global commodity and the world follows LME prices. Prices keep changing and cannot be pegged at one figure on and on,” AP3I vice chairman Jonathan Handojo said on July 24.The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry regulation allows smelting companies to buy at prices up to 3 percent below the HPM under certain conditions. The regulation also grants the energy ministry the authority to revise the HPM formula once every six months or “whenever needed”.AP3I’s experience is not new. Indonesia is known to be a heavily regulated market, particularly when it comes to commodities. The country also has price limits for domestically sold coal and unsubsidized fuel and sugar, among other products.Jonathan previously hinted to The Jakarta Post that the government never held talks with AP3I over the nickel ore price floor.Read also: Indonesia sets price floor for nickel ore to protect small minersAPNI — the most vocal opponent to the export ban — publicly raised the issue of smelters’ noncompliance in late June, then tried to lobby the government to reopen exports.“We ask the government to enforce the HPM regulation or if the HPM cannot be enforced, we ask the government to reopen nickel ore exports,” APNI secretary-general Meidy Katrin said in a statement on June 22.The statement included a paragraph explaining the merits of reopening exports, such as higher state revenue and job creation.Meidy said local nickel miners were selling nickel ore at US$27 per wet metric ton (wmt) in June, lower than that month’s price floor of $28.93 per wmt and even lower than the international price of $70 per wmt.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Seven African countries to start testing for COVID-19 antibodies

first_imgSeven African countries will start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week, a regional body said on Thursday, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent.”Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco are the first set of countries that committed to it,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Addis Ababa.Western governments are using antibody tests to find out how many of their citizens have been infected, in the hope that will help them reopen their economies. Africa has so far conducted 9.4 million coronavirus tests, a 10% increase over last week, Nkengasong said. These tests show whether people currently have COVID-19.The continent’s relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic, but low levels of testing in many countries mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say.As of Thursday, Africa had recorded more than a 1 million cases of COVID-19 and 24,113 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.Nkengasong said 25 African countries still have full border closures while 23 are imposing testing at entry points.He stressed the need to harmonize border testing and recognition of certificates in order to facilitate travel. Topics :last_img read more

Ex-champions Froome, Thomas left out of Ineos Tour de France team

first_imgTopics : Froome has been trying to get back to peak condition after he was involved in a high-speed crash at last year’s Criterium du Dauphine which came close to ending his career.”Chris Froome will target the Vuelta,” said Brailsford in a team statement.”Chris is a legend of our sport, a true champion who has demonstrated incredible grit and determination to come back from his crash last year.”We want to support him to compete for another Grand Tour title and the Vuelta gives him that little bit more time to continue his progress to the top level.”  Thomas will target the Giro d’Italia, leaving defending Tour de France champion Egan Bernal as Ineos team leader.”Egan will once again target the yellow jersey in France and we are very excited to give last year’s Giro winner, Richard Carapaz, his debut in this year’s Tour also,” said Brailsford.”Geraint will target the Giro and take on the opportunity to double up his Tour de France win with another Grand Tour title, with the aim of being the first Welshman to win it.”Froome had tried to prove he was ready for the Tour, which gets under way in Nice on August 29 having been postponed from its original date due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the Criterium.Froome, who is joining new team Israel Start-Up Nation at the end of the season, had said he felt he was getting there.However, Brailsford said he and the coaching staff had reached their conclusions after a painstaking process.”Selecting the right leader in the right race with the right support team is critical,” he said.”And has meant we have had to analyze all the latest information to make sure we are in the best position possible to optimize our performances in the coming months.”Ineos team for Tour de FranceAndrey Amador (CRC), Egan Bernal (COL), Richard Carapaz (ECU), Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), Luke Rowe (GBR), Pavel Sivakov (RUS), Dylan van Baarle (NED)center_img Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas are glaring omissions from the formidable Team Ineos Grenadier line-up for this year’s race.Froome will not get the chance to bring down the curtain on his hugely-successful spell with Ineos (formerly Team Sky) with a tilt for a fifth Tour yellow jersey as he “needs more time”, according to team principal Dave Brailsford.The 35-year-old Kenyan-born British rider will instead aim for the Vuelta a Espana.last_img read more

S. Korea urges work from home as country reports most daily cases since March

first_imgTopics : The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus infections in South Korea to 18,706 and the COVID-19 death tally to 313. A total of 933 infections have been traced to the church outbreak, KCDC said.Health authorities meanwhile have sent a list of at least 51,000 people, who have been categorized to be linked to the rally on Aug. 15, to local governments, health ministry official Yoon Tae-ho told a briefing.The jump in novel coronavirus cases come as the government is pushing for a healthcare reform, which has sparked opposition from doctors, prompting strikes.Health authorities are now floating the possibility of imposing the highest level of social distancing, where schools and business would be urged to close, inflicting more damage on Asia’s fourth-largest economy.  “Please carry out thorough checks of risk factors at workplaces, where the work environment is especially vulnerable to infection, such as call centers and logistics warehouses,” said Health Minister Park Neung-hoo.”To reduce transmission within workplaces, please reduce the number of staff through flexible work hours, work from home and working staggered hours.”In March, South Korea reported a call center outbreak, while at least 100 cases were linked to a logistics center run by e-commerce giant Coupang Corp in June.Park said at least 80% of the infections over the past week are from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area and many were linked to the church and political rally.center_img South Korea urged businesses on Thursday to have employees work from home after reporting the highest daily number of coronavirus cases since March, as it also flagged the risks of new clusters at call centers and logistics warehouses.South Korea reported 441 new coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, the most daily infections since early March when the country had the first large outbreak, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Thursday.While authorities said the recent surge has mostly to do with recent outbreaks in a church and at an anti-government rally earlier this month, they warned about the possibility of new clusters in densely-populated workspaces.last_img read more

Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan sends message to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

first_imgAdvertisement Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan sends message to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta Gundogan has tipped Arteta to succeed at Arsenal (Picture: Getty)City, in contrast, appear to be missing Arteta’s touch on the training ground and Gundogan admits he enjoyed working with the Spaniard.ADVERTISEMENTAsked what it was like working with Arteta, Gundogan replied: ‘We’ve had a very good relationship at Man City’.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘He’s a very empathetic, caring and hard working coach’.Arteta’s positive coronavirus results persuaded the Premier League to postpone the league season, having announced their intention just one hour before Arsenal’s statement that all weekend fixtures were to go ahead.Arsenal’s first team squad remain in quarantine and the likes of Manchester United have now taken similar precautions.The Premier League is scheduled to restart in early April but it’s inevitable that there will be further postponements as the United Kingdom is not yet believed to be close to the ‘peak’ stage of the pandemic.MORE: French Open postponed until September due to coronavirus outbreak Mikel Arteta is recovering from COVID-19 (Picture: Getty)Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has tipped Mikel Arteta to succeed at Arsenal as he’s a ‘hard working, caring and empathetic’ coach.The Spaniard left his role as Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager in December to take over from Unai Emery at Arsenal.Arteta has made a bright start at the Emirates and the side have made notable improvements, even if results haven’t always followed. Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterTuesday 17 Mar 2020 4:40 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link2.8kShares Commentlast_img read more