Weary from Ebola, Congo also fights coronavirus

Congo has been battling an Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands of people for more than 18 months, and now it must also face a new scourge: the coronavirus pandemic. (April 10)

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Coronavirus: Liberian president announces lockdown of capital state | AFP

Liberian President George Weah announces a state of emergency and a lockdown of four states, including Montserrado, where the capital Monrovia is located, in order to contain the spread of coronavirus. New cases have been registered in the past days in this country still recovering from the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis. IMAGES

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These Bonds Designed to Help Developing Countries Fight Pandemics Haven’t Ever Been Paid Out

As Ebola spread through West Africa five years ago, the international community struggled to raise enough funds to help local governments control it. The World Bank decided it needed a way to quickly funnel money to developing countries so they can stop the spread of diseases before they become pandemics. Its answer was to start selling pandemic bonds — essentially insurance from private sector investors that would payout in the case of a large outbreak.

The bonds pay a high-interest rate, as much as 11% annually, to compensate investors for the risk they’re taking on. They were invested back in July 2017, with the stipulation that if there was no large outbreak in three years, investors would get all their money back. That means investors were set to cash them out this coming July.

But now the coronavirus is sweeping the globe, sickening at least 1.3 million people and killing more than 77,000. And the insurance still hasn’t been triggered. Its incredibly convoluted rules are partly designed to protect investors from a payout so they’d be willing to buy the bonds. The fine print includes a 12-week waiting period for coronavirus outbreaks and a minimum number of deaths in at least two recipient countries.

The bonds will likely be triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, paying out up to $196 million. But it will be too late to help them stop the spread early in many developing countries. There’s a lot of other support money flowing to them — the World Bank alone plans to make $160 billion available — begging the question why the bonds were ever needed in the first place. Especially in light of the current crisis, many critics say the pandemic bonds were just another insurance scheme.

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Meet the International Team Mapping the Real-Time Spread of COVID-19

Think of it like Wikipedia, but an open database — curated by volunteers — that instead tracks and maps the real-time spread of COVID-19 around the world.

Since the onset of what has become the COVID-19 pandemic, an international team of over 20 researchers has been aggregating information and developing publicly available datasets to help people study the outbreak as it evolves.

Many of the researchers part of the Open COVID-19 Data Curation Group first connected in 2015 while working on a similar project during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. But the scale of COVID-19 has already made this latest effort a much larger task.

“We didn’t necessarily anticipate in early January that this was going to become a pandemic,” says Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, who is a member of the collaboration. “It really is being operated now like the large scale project it has become”

The goals of the project are to make this raw data open to the public to inform how this outbreak began, give a real-time look at how the situation is changing, how it is unfolding both locally and globally and what is working to stem the spread.

The information is being widely used by an array of individuals and organizations including the CDC, European CDC, and WHO.

The project is collaboratively led by Moritz Kramer of the University of Oxford, and David Pigott of the University of Washington in Seattle.

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Africa Weekly: new coronavirus cases reach Eastern Africa | AFP

This week in Africa Kenya and Ethiopia record their first coronavirus cases, the Democratic Republic of Congo records first COVID-19 positive diagnosis as Ebola outbreak nears end and South Africa repatriates over 120 nationals from virus-hit China.
And in other news: African leaders agree to Libya peace talks in July, Ethiopian Airlines marks one year since Flight 302 crash, Malawi security forces fire teargas at protesters as activist detained, Hunger, economic slump as Zambia battles drought, Business booms for Seychelles’ suggestive love coconuts and French-Rwandan artist Gaël Faye debuts film based on bestseller.

#Coronavirus #COVID-19

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Away from coronavirus, DR Congo battles deadly measles outbreak | AFP

As the world grapples with the spread of novel coronavirus, in remote western DR Congo, officials are fighting a deadly outbreak of measles. More than 6,000 people have died from measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a year, the world’s worst outbreak and triple the toll of the country’s Ebola epidemic. It is also nearly double the 3,404 people who have died from the coronavirus so far.

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Measles vaccination campaign ongoing in DR Congo amid outbreak | AFP

Young children are getting vaccinated for measles at a health centre in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus has killed more than 6,000 people in the country since January, the world’s worst outbreak and nearly triple the toll of the country’s Ebola epidemic, according to the World Health Organization.

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Vaccination and the immune system | AFP Animé

Videographic explaining how vaccinations work. Measles has killed more than 6,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since January 2019, the world’s worst outbreak and nearly triple the toll in the country’s Ebola epidemic, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.VIDEOGRAPHICS

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More than 5,000 measles deaths in DR Congo this year: WHO | AFP

Measles has killed more than 5,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo since January — more than double the toll in the country’s Ebola epidemic — the World Health Organization says IMAGES

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The Ebola virus | AFP Animé

Short videographic on Ebola. The Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday introduced a second vaccine to fight a 15-month-old epidemic of Ebola in the east of the country, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said.VIDEOGRAPHICS

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How Ebola attacks the body | AFP Animé

Videographic on Ebola. Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo Thursday introduced a second vaccine to fight the deadly Ebola virus in the east of the country, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Ebola virus | AFP Animé

Videographic on Ebola. Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo Thursday introduced a second vaccine to fight the deadly Ebola virus in the east of the country, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity said.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Ebola survivor with bike helps ease fear in Congo

A motorcyclist and Ebola survivor is helping doctors overcome the local suspicions and fear which block their efforts to quarantine and treat patients with the deadly virus in Congo. (Oct. 21)

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Ebola outbreak in DRC remains emergency of “international concern” : WHO | AFP

The Ebola epidemic in DR Congo remains a “public health emergency of international concern” for three more months, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus says at a press conference in Geneva. IMAGES

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How Ebola attacks the body | AFP Animé

WHO Emergency Committee meets over Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Videographic on Ebola. VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Ebola virus | AFP Animé

WHO Emergency Committee meets over Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Videographic on Ebola. VIDEOGRAPHIC

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How Ebola attacks the body | AFP Animé

Videographic on Ebola. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, the World Health Organization said Monday.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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The Ebola virus | AFP Animé

Short videographic on Ebola. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, the World Health Organization said Monday.VIDEOGRAPHICS

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Ebola virus | AFP Animé

Videographic on Ebola. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is to introduce a second vaccine next month to combat the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people in the country, the World Health Organization said Monday.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Africa Weekly – a round up of news and features | AFP

This week on Africa Weekly, we head to South Africa, where around 1,000 people each year end up in the morgues of Johannesburg, without anyone claiming them. With no identity documents, so it is up to medical examiners to find out who they are and to try and find their families. Then we head to the Democratic Republic of Congo where Lake Kivu is playing a key role in the country’s battle against Ebola. FOR SUBSCRIBERS OF AFRICA WEEKLY ONLY

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Africa Weekly – a round up of news and features | AFP

This week on Africa Weekly we head to Mozambique, where Jihadist attacks are wreaking havoc in the lives of people in the province of Cabo Delgado. Then we go to Uganda where an Ebola task force is helping people live their lives whilst managing the deadly virus. But first let’s take a look at the stories that made the headlines this week.FOR SUBSCRIBERS OF AFRICA WEEKLY ONLY

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UN chief arrives in Beni, DR Congo | AFP

UN chief Antonio Guterres arrives in Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN Secretary General had just visited Goma, the capital of North Kivu province which is trying to fight an Ebola epidemic that has claimed more than 2,000 lives in one year. IMAGES

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UN chief Antonio Guterres arrives in Goma | AFP

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrives in Goma, DRC, in a visit for a first-hand assessment of the fightback against Ebola. It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016. IMAGES

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Children on frontline of fight to stop spread of Ebola | AFP

At the Mpondwe border crossing between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, Congolese children are screened every morning for symptoms of Ebola virus that has taken over 1,900 lives in DRC before they can go over to the other side for school. Many Congolese young people attend school across the border where job and education opportunities are greater. A nine-year-old girl of Congolese origin who tested positive for Ebola at the border has recently died.

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