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Africa 54 - July 8, 2020

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You are watching Africa 54, your daily news and feature magazine-style program, from the Voice of America. Host Esther Githui-Ewart and a team of correspondents zero in on the big stories making news on the continent and around the world with context and analysis.

Top Stories:

As the United States closes in on a whopping three-million total coronavirus cases, the nation’s top infectious disease expert is warning Americans not to fall into a “false complacency” about the nation’s falling death rate from the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the remarks Tuesday during a question-and-answer session with U.S. Senator Doug Jones on Facebook.

The shortage of reliable data on COVID-19 is affecting many African nations as some governments are reluctant to acknowledge epidemics or to expose their poor health systems to outside scrutiny, according to Reuters. Other nations are finding it difficult to administer significant testing because they are so stricken by poverty and conflict. According to data collected by Reuters, the Africa continent, with 1.3 billion people, has over 493,000 infections and more than 11,000 deaths.

The COVID-19 vaccine trial in South Africa has been subject to some protest, and experts note a significant level of resistance and mistrust around testing on the continent. In part-two of Africa 54 health correspondent Linord Moudou's interview with Dr. Bartholomew Dicky Akanmori, regional adviser for regulations of vaccines with the World Health Organization's regional office for Africa, also in charge of the secretariat of the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum - he elaborates on the importance for Africa to participate in clinical trials.

As Ghana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the government is urging citizens to take their health seriously and exercise regularly.  Although social distancing is making going to the gym a challenge, health experts say fancy equipment is not needed.  Gyms and personal trainers are switching to online exercise classes, while a popular Ghanaian bodybuilder shows you can exercise from anywhere during the pandemic.

Doctors in Sierra Leone say they will expand their strike to include treatment for general patients if the government does not meet their demands. The doctors went on strike last Thursday refusing to treat COVID-19 patients until the government paid them their bonuses and provided more protective equipment. Sierra Leone government officials did not immediately respond to our request for an interview.

Opposition and pro-democracy groups in Mali say they will resume their protest this Friday to force the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Kieta because they say he failed to meet their demands. Ramata Sissoko Cisse, president of the Change in Mali Movement, says the protest will from now on take the form of peaceful civil disobedience, including occupation of all government buildings and other institutions throughout the country.

A54 Technology: Rwanda, like most African countries is gradually reopening its economy after several weeks of being locked-down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses and startups are struggling to stay in business. Africa 54 tech reporter Paul Ndiho spoke with Jennifer Batamuliza, founder, RWA TECH HUB, a startup that teaches IT, and mentors women and girls to enter the field of science and technology.

#COVID19 #Coronavirus #UnitesStates #Africa #SouthAfrica #WHO #AVAREF #Ghana #SierraLeone #Mali #Rwanda

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