Covid 19 death toll passes three million globally

An average of more than 12,000 deaths were recorded globally every day in the past week, shooting the overall toll past three million on Saturday.

The global Covid-19 death toll passed three million on Saturday as the pandemic speeds up despite vaccination campaigns, leading countries like India to impose new lockdowns to fight spiralling infection numbers.

It is the latest grim milestone since the novel coronavirus first surfaced in central China in December 2019 and went on to infect more than 139 million people, leaving billions more under crippling lockdowns and ravaging the global economy.

An average of more than 12,000 deaths were recorded globally every day in the past week, shooting the overall toll past three million on Saturday, according to an AFP tally.

For comparison, three million people is more than the population of Jamaica or Armenia — and three times the death toll of the Iran-Iraq war, which raged from 1980-1988.

And the pandemic is showing no sign of slowing down: the 829,596 new infections reported worldwide on Friday is the highest number yet, according to AFP’s tally.

The daily average of 731,000 cases registered over the last week is also close to being a record.

India’s capital New Delhi went into a weekend lockdown Saturday as the world’s second-most populous nation recorded 234,000 new cases and 1,341 deaths.

South Asian ‘wake-up call’

India now has three times the daily cases of the United States, the world’s worst-hit nation, and families are clamouring for drugs and hospital beds.

Some doctors say they are alarmed at how many young people are now getting seriously ill — like Raj Karan, who got sick while campaigning for elections in the northern city of Luckno.

The 38-year-old died soon after.   

‘I am devastated… I could only see him via a video call,’ his friend Ajay Singh Yadav, told AFP. 

Hopes that South Asian countries might have seen the worst of the pandemic have been dashed, with India recording over two million new cases this month alone and Bangladesh and Pakistan imposing new shutdowns.

Udaya Regmi of the International Red Cross said the ‘truly frightening’ South Asian surge was a ‘wake-up call to the world’.

Richer countries that have waged mass inoculation efforts have seen their virus numbers plummet.

Britain, which has given 60 percent of the population at least one vaccination dose, now records around 30 deaths a day — down from 1,200 in late January. 

Olympic fears

Thailand recorded its fourth consecutive day of more than 1,000 new cases on Saturday, its spiralling infections linked to a nightlife district of the capital Bangkok earlier this month.

Alcohol sales will be banned in Bangkok restaurants from Sunday, while entertainment venues will be shuttered nationwide for two weeks.

In Japan, rising virus cases have stoked speculation that the Olympic Games — postponed last year due to the pandemic — could be cancelled. 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first meeting with US President Joe Biden, said his government was listening to experts and doing its ‘utmost’ to prepare for the Tokyo games in July. 

The virus continues to hit events around the world. 

On Saturday, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II bid farewell to her husband, Prince Philip, coronavirus restrictions meant only 30 people could attend his funeral.

Family members — all masked — sat socially distanced in the church, with bottles of hand sanitiser placed among the floral tributes inside.

In Brazil, the country with the third-highest death toll in the world, night shifts have been added to several cemeteries as diggers work around the clock to bury the dead.

‘We try not to get upset in our work, but it is sad, it is a lot of people,’ said one gravedigger in Vila Formosa, the largest cemetery in Latin America. 

More than 365,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Brazil.

Despite the high infection rates there, however, the government of Brazil’s most populous state Sao Paulo announced it would allow businesses and places of worship to reopen from Sunday.

‘Cautious optimism’ in Europe 

France, which banned flights from Brazil last week, on Saturday announced compulsory quarantine for anyone arriving from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and South Africa, because of concerns about their coronavirus variants.

Earlier Saturday, Spain extended the mandatory quarantine of passengers arriving from 12 countries in South America and Africa, including Brazil and South Africa.

A day after Italy announced a partial easing of coronavirus restrictions for schools and restaurants from April 26, entertainment industry workers marched in Rome Saturday calling for more state support — and a calendar for the reopening of the country’s arts venues.

In more good news for Britons after the partial reopening of society this week, Germany on Friday removed the United Kingdom from the list of risk zones for coronavirus infections, meaning that travellers will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.

Israel announced it was scrapping the obligation to wear masks outside from Sunday.

Libya launched its vaccination drive on Saturday, prioritising the elderly and health care workers.

Kawempe North MP elect, Ssegirinya granted bail

Court in Kampala has ordered for the release of Kawempe North MP-elect, Muhammad Ssegirinya after granting him a cash bail of Shs3 million.

His sureties were each bonded Shs50m, not cash, during Thursday afternoon court proceedings at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court.

The sureties and Mr Ssegirinya who has been on remand in Kitalya prison following his arrest on March 22 were also ordered to deposit their national IDs in court and ordered to return to court on May 12, for further hearing of the case in which he is accused of inciting violence.

He was arrested as he held a peaceful demonstration demanding for the release of National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters being held incommunicado by security operatives.

During hearing of the case at Buganda Road Court, Ms Flavia Musiimenta, the officer in charge of Mini Price police post in Kampala told the trial magistrate, Ms Gladys Kamasanyu that she was compelled to order the MP’s arrest because a group of youth who were following him were pelting stones at police officers.

His release comes days after the Electoral Commission filed a reply to Mr Sulaiman Kidandala’s election petition in which he had asked court to overturn Mr Ssegirinya’s victory.

Kidandala last month petitioned the High Court in Kampala challenging Mr Ssegirinya’s victory on grounds that he does not possess the required minimum academic qualification of an MP.

However, the Electoral Commission in their response to court last month said Mr Kidandala is not entitled to any of the reliefs sought because Ssegirinya’s  nomination and election was conducted in compliance with the provisions and principles laid down in the Electoral Laws of Uganda.

According to the affidavit of Barbra Mr Mulimira, the returning officer of Kampala Electoral District; at the time of nomination, Ssegirinya presented a duly filled nomination form accompanied by academic qualifications of UCE (Senior 4) and UACE (Senior 6) both in the names of “Ssegirinya Richard” from Pimbas Secondary School and a Deed Poll for changing of names from “Ssegirinya Richard” to “Ssegirinya Muhammad”.

The nomination, election and gazetting of Ssegirinya by the Electoral Commission as MP Kawempe North Constituency in Kampala was done in accordance with the law having found him in possession of the minimum qualification of Advanced Level and duly registered as a voter and fulfilment of other nomination requirements, the returning officer added.

Remain vigilant during this Easter Festival says IGP Ochola

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola has urged members of the public to remain vigilant and extra alert during this Easter Festival.

In his Easter message, Ochola said that more often, criminal elements take advantage of such holidays to intensify their unlawful, criminal acts.

As part of the enforcement, Ochola says collaborative efforts with sister Security Agencies have been heightened, with increased visibility across the country.

“This is intended to counter all forms of threats and vulnerabilities.”

“Important to note, operations against all persons found to be flouting the Covid-19 health and safety protocols are still on. We argue you all to be mindful of the threats of COVID-19 and to stay safe,” he said, adding that, “I would like to express deep gratitude to the public for their continuous and invaluable support as we pursue and strive for a safer, peaceful country.”

Dr. Mpango to swear in as new Tanzania’s VP tomorrow

Tanzania’s Finance Minister Dr Philip Isdor Mpango,63, has been confirmed as the country’s new Vice President, and will be sworn in tomorrow. By a vote of 363-0, Tanzania’s parliament approved the appointment.

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi CCM dominated parliament sitting in Dodoma on Tuesday gave the green light to President Samia Suluhu’s nomination of the former seminarian to take over a post she held since first being jointly elected with John Pombe Magufuli five years ago. Magufuli died on March 17.

Dr Mpango is a finance expert and has worked in the President’s office before, was also acting Commissioner General of Tanzania Revenue Authority for a few months,  before being appointed member of parliament in 2015. He served President Dr John Magufuli as Minister of Finance and Planning since then.

Only last month, Mpango was struggling for his life at Benjamin Mkapa hospital in Dodoma but has since recovered.

 Born – July 14, 1957, Kasumo, Kigoma region

 1993-1996 University of Dar, PHD Economics
 1990-1992 Lund University, PHD Course Work, Sweden
 1986-1988 University of Dar, Master in Economics
 1981-1984 University of Dar, BA Economics
 1976-1977 Ihungo High (A) Bukoba
 1974-1975 Itaga Seminary (O) Tabora
 1971-1973 Ujiji Seminary (O) Kigoma
 1968-1970 Munyama Primary Kigoma
 1965-1967 Kasumo Primary Kigoma
 1964-1965 Kipalapala Primary Tabora

Dr. Mpango’s Career

 1980-1980 Public relations assistant, National Provident Fund

 1980-1981 Research assistant, Elimu Supplies Ltd

 1984-1988 Economist, Ministry of Labor

 1988-2002 Economics Lecturer Dar-es-Salaam University

 2002-2006 Senior Economist World Bank

 2007-2009 Economic advisor to the President, President’s Office

 2009-2010 Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance

 2010-2015 Executive secretary, President’s Office Planning Commission

 2015-2015 Acting Commissioner General, Tanzania revenue Authority

 2015 – Appointed Member of Parliament

 2015 – Minister of Finance and Planning

Heavy downpour disrupts 2020/21 PLE examinations

Heavy rains on Tuesday morning disrupted 2020/2021 Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) in various parts of the country. 

Due to the downpour, most teachers failed to access examination storage centres in time to receive the materials.

At Mukono Police Division, Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) coordinators and head teachers were not at the examination storage centre by 8:00 am.

At Jinja Road Police station, only one examination coordinator was at the centre in time.

Ms. Eve Konde, the Kampala Area Supervisor said that the rains had disorganised the distribution of examination materials.

“We normally sit for these exams during the rainy season. So, people should not be shocked about what is happening. Some schools may get the materials late but it should not be a very big issue,” she said.

In Wakiso district, most examination storage centre, the distribution of exams begun as early as 7:00 am despite UNEB regulations that state the process is supposed to start at 8:30 am.

“We started early to have a smooth distribution process. It is raining, so we wanted schools to be able to pick papers as they walk in. We know the rain will cause some delays,” Mr. William Mwanja, the hea of the process, said.

During national examination days, pupils are encouraged to be at school as early as 7:30 am or earlier. 

However, by 8:20 am, most pupils were still arriving at various schools.

At Standard Junior Primary School in Bunamwaya Division, Makindye Sabagabo Municipality, Wakiso District, most of the candidates arrived at 7:30 am.

In other parts of the country, the situation was not any different.

In some hard to reach areas of Mukono District such as Kimenyedde, Seeta-Namuganga, Mpatta, Nakisunga and Kkoome Islands, most head teachers were stranded.

Mr. Steven Mugisha, the head teacher of St Kizito Kawongo Primary School in Kimenyedde Sub- county said that UNEB should in future provide favourable transport means to assist schools in rural areas during such circumstances.

“We cannot go to pick the exams. The roads are impassable. We are stuck and will not be able to pick the papers early because even when the rain stops, that does not mean we can leave straight away,” he said.

In Luwero District, the downpour paralysed the transportation of exams to various schools.

Mr. Robert Kulabako, the chairperson of Luweero District Private Primary Schools’ Association says that by 8:00 am, the schools had not yet received examination papers.

Mr. Kulabako said that there would  be more delays because some schools are located in areas where roads are impassable whenever it rains.

He, however, said that most candidates won’t be affected since they have been staying at schools in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures that were set by the Ministry of Education to control the spread of COVID-19

Museveni, wife Janet vaccinated against COVID-19

The Commander-in-Chief of Uganda’s Armed Forces wore army attire and a mask, and had to ease up the left-arm sleeve of his army-green under-shirt to receive the shot.

Across his small portable table sat his wife, Janet, who also received the vaccine in the lush, well-manicured compound of the Nakasero State House.

In a tweet, President Musevent urged Ugandans to get vaccinated and was keen to remind fellow citizens to continue observing the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

‘First Lady Janet Museveni and I got our COVID-19 vaccine today in Nakasero. I encourage all Ugandans who qualify for this vaccination to go to health facilities and get it. But remember to keep observing the SOPs; wear masks, wash/sanitise hands and observe social distance, etc,’ he tweeted.

While congratulating the First Couple upon receiving the vaccine, health minister Aceng urged Ugandans to embrace the vaccine, assuring that ‘it is safe and effective’.

The President’s Senior Press Secretary Don Wanyama had earlier on Saturday informed the public that Museveni would take the jab at State House Nakasero and urged members of the public to ‘stay safe, wear your mask and social distance.

Uganda is in a race to have its citizens vaccinated against the coronavirus, starting with those most at risk of contracting the virus.

On Friday, the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, was vaccinated after which he urged Ugandans to embrace the exercise while continuing the observe the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

‘I today (Friday) took my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine,’ he tweeted.

Adding: ‘I wish to reassure you all that available evidence from history and science shows that vaccines work and save lives. But even after getting the jab, remain vigilant and observe the SOPs for prevention

Dr. John Joseph Pombe Magufuli laid to rest in Chato Geito

A sombre mood engulfed Chato and its surroundings Friday afternoon as the casket bearing the body of deceased Tanzanian president John Magufuli was lowered into the grave.

The lowering of the casket at 1650hrs was followed by the ceremonial 21 gun-salute by the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces.

Buried at his family’s grave yard, it was indeed his personal wish to be buried at his ancestral home, a place that the deceased had many fond memories of his formative years.

Thousands of mourners from several parts of the country led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan and other top government officials turned up to bid the former head of State farewell.

Alongside the President, there were also former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete and the present of Zanzibar Dr. Hussein Mwinyi and his predecessor Ali Mohammed Shein.

Just Like in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country, mourners started arriving as early as 5:00am, ready to witness the final farewell event in honour of their hero and role model, Dr. John Pombe Magufuli.

The late President died in Dar es Salaam last week on Wednesday March 17 while undergoing treatment at Mzena Hospital.

Announcing the death the president the then Vice President, Mrs. Samia Suluhu Hassan said the President had succumbed to a heart condition called atrial fibrillation something that he had struggled with for more than 10 years.

Woman in child torture video sentenced

Patience Uwimana a 23 year-old mother who was recently filmed brutalizing her five-year-old son has been sentenced to two years in prison.
Patience a resident of Byuma Village, Kyazanga Town Council in Lwengo District was on Wednesday convicted by Masaka Grade One Magistrate, Ms Christine Nantege for torturing her son on February 8, 2021.

Uwimana’s brutal acts became public on March 10 when a video clip went viral on social media showing her caning her son before kicking him in the chest and stepping on his head.

The state prosecutor, Mr Natal Angwadya had asked court for a deterrent sentence on grounds that Uwimana is an ex-convict who was recently released from Kisoro Prison for attempted murder.
Mr Angwadya further told the court that the mother of two had not showed any signs of remorse throughout her trial.
“Your worship, the act done by this woman is unforgivable. There is a need for this honorable court to send a clear message to the community that torturing innocent children is felonious,” Mr Angwadya said. 

“I pray that she is given a deterrent and custodial sentence, your worship,” he pleaded.
However, Uwimana pleaded for a lenient sentence claiming that she acted out of anger.
“Your worship, my neighbors used to attack me, saying that I gave birth to a thief because he would allegedly steal everything he came across. I ask for forgiveness because I over reacted out of anger basing on what my neighbors reported to me,” she said.

The magistrate said Uwimana did not waste the court’s time because she pleaded guilty to the offence.
However, Ms Nantege said that the convict had a duty to protect her son from any harm and injury.
“The state has failed to prove that you [Uwimana] have ever committed any other offence
and therefore, there is nothing to show that you have a criminal record.

Assault has a maximum punishment of five years but because of your plea of guilt, I sentence you to two years in prison,” the magistrate said. 
The magistrate told Uwimana that she had a right to appeal against her sentence if she was not satisfied within 14 days.

Mourners pay last respects to Tanzania’s late President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli

Emotions ran high at the service in Dar es Salaam [Photo/Courtesy)

Top officials, including new President Samia Suluhu Hassan, and governing party supporters attend service at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Mourners in Tanzania have lined the streets of the country’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, to pay their respects to President John Magufuli, days after the government announced his death after nearly three weeks missing from public view.

People on Saturday wept and threw flower petals as the coffin, towed on a gun carriage by a military vehicle and draped in the Tanzanian flag, was transferred from a church to Uhuru Stadium where religious leaders recited prayers at a service attended by top officials and supporters of Magufuli.

“Before I saw the coffin, I didn’t believe our president was really dead,” said flower-seller Pauline Attony after watching the motorcade pass.

Among the mourners was Magufuli’s successor as president, the country’s former Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Hassan, who was sworn in on Friday to become the country’s first female president, led a government procession filing past the coffin, offering her condolences to Magufuli’s wife.

“It is too soon for you to go, father. You touched our lives and we still needed you,” said one mourner, Beatrice Edward. “We lost our defender,” said another, Suleiman Mbonde, a tradesman.

Many wore black, or the green and yellow colours of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, but few inside the stadium or among the packed crowds outside wore face masks.

Magufuli had long denied that COVID-19 was a problem in Tanzania.

He had declared that prayer had rid the country of the disease, refused face masks or lockdown measures, stopped the publication of case statistics and championed alternative medicine, decrying vaccines as “dangerous”.

After the deaths of a number of senior figures – officially from respiratory problems and pneumonia – the president popularly known as the “Bulldozer” had to concede that the virus was still circulating and was indeed a danger.

While Hassan says she will take over where Magufuli left off, many hope she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor, under whose rule there had been a sharp crackdown on the opposition, media and civil society.

All eyes will be on her handling of the pandemic.

On Saturday, the new president convened a special meeting of CCM but it concluded without news of appointing a new deputy.

Under the constitution, the 61-year-old will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.

She has announced a 21-day mourning period. The late president will lie in state in several locations across Tanzania before his burial next Friday in his home town of Chato.

NUP flag bearer for Bukoto Centre MP Katongole dies in an accident

Katongole Muhammad Badru, who had expressed interest in representing Bukoto Central in the Eleventh Parliament under National Unity Platform (NUP ) party is dead.

Katongole died after being involved in a car accident along Masaka Mbarara road while going for the burial of Dr. Anas Kaliisa who died on Wednesday evening at his home in Kawempe and is set to be buried in Ntungamo.

Several other passengers, who were traveling with the deceased in the saloon vehicle, were rushed to Masaka Hospital while reports indicated Katongole’s was taken to Kyazanga Hospital. 

One of the deceased friend Abdulkarim Katende, said Katongole was a former Chairman of the Baganda Nkobazambogo Bilal Islamic institute SS Kakiri. “I can’t believe that you are gone my chairman,” he said.

The deceased was in a Mark X black saloon car alongside five other friends who set off from Kibuli Enroute Ruhama in Ntungamo for the burial of NBS TV’s political commentator Sheikh Dr. Abdunoor Anas Kalisa who collapsed and died at his home on Wednesday.

According to eyewitnesses, the Mark X was driving at breakneck speed when it hit another car and overturned.

Katongole died instantly while the four occupants were transferred to Kitovu hospital, two of them under Intensive care.

By the time of his death, Katongole was aspiring to unseat Uganda’s Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi in Bukoto Central.

NUP principle Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu alias Bobi Wine expressed he was in shock and grief following the death of Katongole.

“With shock and grief, I have learnt of the death of comrade Katongole Badru Muhammad, who participated in the NUP candidate selection for MP Bukoto Central. He perished in a terrible accident this morning. On behalf of the NUP fraternity and on my own behalf, I send deep sympathies to his family, friends, and all of us who knew him. What a loss to the forces of change! We shall coordinate with the family regarding burial arrangements.

Kitalo nnyo! Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un.