The United Nations specialized agency responsible for international public health; World Health Organization (WHO) says the deadly Corona-virus menace is far from over, and that it is now getting worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening globally, with more than 136,000 cases recorded on Sunday last week- the highest number in a single day.
“More than six months into this pandemic, this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal. This is the time for countries to continue to work hard, on the basis of science, solutions and solidarity”, said WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking on Monday during his regular briefing on the crisis.
WHO said more than 100,000 cases have been reported in the past 10 days, culminating in the highest one-day total so far on Sunday. Most cases came from 10 countries, mainly in the Americas and South Asia.
“Most countries in the African region are still experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, with some reporting cases in new geographic areas, although most countries in the region have less than 1,000 cases. We also see increasing numbers of cases in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia”, he said.
While encouraged by “positive signs” in some nations, head of WHO has warned against complacency as countries continue to confront COVID-19 and citizens grow weary of stay-at-home measures aimed at preventing the spread of the disease.
Tedros told journalists that although lockdowns and physical distancing have helped suppress transmission in many countries, the virus remains “extremely dangerous”. Most of the global population continue to be highly susceptible, which means the pandemic can easily re-ignite.
“One of the greatest dangers we face now is complacency. People in countries with stay-at-home orders are understandably frustrated with being confined to their homes for weeks on end”, he said.
“People understandably want to get on with their lives, because their lives and livelihoods are at stake. That’s what WHO wants too. And that’s what we are working for, all day, every day.” However, Tedros said moving forward will have to mean accepting “a new normal”, and forging a world that is healthier, safer and better prepared.
Countries are continuing to study asymptomatic cases, said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead at the WHO. She explained that these patients, who experience very mild symptoms if any at all, rarely help to fuel the spread of COVID-19, according to reports from countries doing detailed contract tracing.
While WHO is continually gathering more information to truly understand this topic comprehensively, “it still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.” More important to containing the virus, said Van Kerkhove, is studying and tracing symptomatic cases, given their contribution to virus spread.
“If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, follow the contacts and quarantine those contacts, we would drastically reduce transmission,” she said. “If we could focus on that, I think we would do very, very well in terms of suppressing transmission.”
Neighbouring South Africa is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of Corona-virus cases. The number which exceeded 50,000 on Monday is the highest in the African region, this is according to the latest data from World Health Organization.
The countries with the highest number of cases are; South Africa with 50,879, Egypt with 35,444, Nigeria with 12,486 and Algeria with 10,265, this as of Monday this week.
“As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 50,879, the total number of deaths is 1,080 and the recoveries to date are 26, 099,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Twitter. President Cyril Ramaphosa said more than half of the cases have been seen in the past two weeks.
After originating in Wuhan, China last December, COVID-19 has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The pandemic has killed more than 406,500 people worldwide, with more than 7.11 million confirmed cases, while recoveries have surpassed 3.29 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University of the US.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.