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Covid! 9: Schools across Africa close down as second-wave cases increase

Malawi was the last to close schools when President Lazarus Chakwera announced they would close for three weeks after a sharp rise in numbers.

The country had not reported cases for more than two months, but now they have peaked and a third of the 353 total deaths have occurred in the past two weeks, according to data from John Hopkins University.

“The time has come to enforce these things for the common good,” Chakwera said in a television address Sunday. However, boarding school students remain on campus until health authorities decide whether it is safe for them to go home.
Government officials have died of the virus, including Malawi’s transport minister and another senior cabinet member who died last week.
Zimbabwe’s foreign minister, Sibusiso Moyo, died on Wednesday after contracting the virus, as did South Africa’s minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, on Thursday.

Chakwera said he has ordered an increase in the number of test sites and recruited additional medical staff, noting that the facilities in the country are terribly understaffed. The president said he has instructed the finance minister to set aside about $ 23 million as soon as possible ‘to meet the demands of the current disaster.

In neighboring Zambia, schools were due to reopen on January 18, but this has been delayed by another two weeks due to increasing numbers of cases. They now open on February 1, authorities said.

Zimbabwe, like Malawi, has only allowed exam classes to open, but under strict Covid-19 rules.

Rwanda has closed schools in the capital Kigali with the possibility of school closures in other regions if more cases are confirmed, according to the country’s education minister. The Cabinet ordered a total shutdown of the city on Monday.

‘Unhappy and angry’ parents

However, in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, schools opened on January 18, despite opposition from some lawmakers and a growing number of cases in the country.

“After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders … it is agreed that the resumption date of 18 January should remain, while parents and respective institutions should ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols …” said the Federal Ministry of Education in a declaration.
Nigeria registered 1,386 new cases and 14 deaths on Wednesday, according to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, where Lagos alone had 476 cases. The number of cases in the country passed 110,000 on Monday.

Parents who told CNN they are concerned about the decision to send children back to school.

Brenda Uphopho, a festival director from Lagos, said she chose to keep her nine-year-old son at home.

“I do not understand why this is happening,” she said. “I’m so unhappy and angry. Is it OK for children to miss school? They can catch up on their studies when it’s safe.”

South Africa, which has the highest number of cases in Africa and has had to deal with a new virulent virus strain, delayed reopening of schools by another two weeks.

“Given the pressure that the health system has experienced in the last few weeks, caused by increased COVID-19 infections, which has led to the second wave, the Education Council has taken the decision to postpone the reopening of both public and private schools ., “Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule, MP said in a statement.

South Africa registered 12,710 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections to nearly 1.4 million. 566 died of the virus with a further 839 deaths the day before, according to data from John Hopkins University.

In Malawi, hospitals have been ‘overwhelmed’ by patients and empty beds are scarce. Medical supplies including fans have also been in short supply.

A national disaster

Chakwera declared a state-national disaster ISLANDJanuary 12 in all 28 districts of Malawi in response to the recent rise.

He has since called for support from donors, including the UN.

But there has been criticism of the government’s handling of the virus. A recent report from Oxfam indicates that the previous government – which lost power in June last year following a presidential re-broadcast – used 80% of the funds raised for the Covid-19 battle for quotas. The charity warned the current government against repeating the same mistakes.

Onjezani Kenani, a campaigner who has called on the government to equip hospitals with medical supplies and personal protective equipment, asked for donations to help hospitals through a Facebook post on January 15th.

“Friends, I prefer action,” he said. “We can point out things that our government is not doing right, but the fact is that the people are suffering out there and some are dying. When the government does its part, you and I can chime in and do ours.”

“I urge donations so we can buy oxygen pressure regulators – they enable oxygen cylinders to deliver oxygen to patients,” said Kenani, whose fund has so far raised $ 100,000.

“I therefore welcome the efforts of private citizens who are already running capital campaigns to raise money to go against these needs,” said President Chakwera, acknowledging the efforts. “I would like to encourage companies in the private sector to follow this example and exercise their social responsibility in this critical hour.

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