U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Hit 500,000th
The United States on Monday crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths just over a year to the day since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known U.S. victims in Santa Clara County, California.
The country had recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases and 500,054 lives lost as of Monday afternoon, according to a Reuters tally of public health data, although daily deaths and hospitalizations have fallen to the lowest level since before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
About 19% of total global coronavirus deaths have occurred in the United States, an outsized figure given that the nation accounts for just 4% of the world’s population.
“These numbers are stunning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease adviser to President Joe Biden told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” program. “If you look back historically, we’ve done worse than almost any other country and we’re a highly developed, rich country.”
The country’s poor performance reflects the lack of a unified, national response last year, when the administration of former President Donald Trump mostly left states to their own devices in tackling the greatest public health crisis in a century, with the president often in conflict with his own health experts.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to commemorate the huge loss of life due to COVID-19 later on Monday during an event at the White House that will include a speech by the president, a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony.
Biden will also order that U.S. flags on federal property be lowered to half staff for five days, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
The National Cathedral in Washington will also toll its bells 500 times on Monday evening to honor the lives lost to COVID-19 in a livestream event, according to a notice on its website.
In 2020, the virus has taken a full year off the average life expectancy in the United States, the biggest decline since World War Two.
Konga Travel Unveils Mega Summer Deals
Konga Travel and Tours, Nigeria’s frontline travel booking agency, is offering flyers the best travel packages to choice summer destinations around the world, in addition to putting its considerable expertise at their disposal in aiding them to process their visa and passport requirements.
The development serves as good news for millions of Nigerians in search of attractive travel deals for their summer vacations.
Top on the bill is a special offer on Virgin Atlantic for prospective travelers to the United Kingdom. Added to the attractive pricing offered by Konga Travel for this destination, each flyer who purchases a ticket automatically wins a free voucher to shop on Konga.
Further bound to excite flyers is a number of comprehensive and affordable summer packages to exotic locations such as Dubai, Zanzibar, Kigali, Mombasa and Nairobi.
For these locations, Konga Travel is offering a one-month visa, up to a week’s accommodation, daily breakfast, airport drop-off/pick-up and a tour of some of the most memorable sites in each location for travelers at unbelievable prices, starting from N564,731. Interestingly, the package also covers flights to each location (except Nairobi).
Also, Konga Travel is offering mouth-watering prices to Dubai, UAE and Seoul, South Korea as well as s number of destinations in the United States, including Houston, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington D.C.
Eric Nana, VP, Konga Travel, says the summer deals being extended by the company are unmatched in the market, adding that the initiative is borne out of the desire to continually offer customers premium service and satisfaction.
‘‘Konga Travel is renowned for going over and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. Right from inception, this is what we have been known for. Indeed, it is a factor that has made us stand out in the market. This is what we are putting on the table once again with these juicy summer vacation packages for our customers.
‘‘These deals have been carefully put together to deliver great value without burning a hole in our customers’ pockets. Also, you can rest assured that on Konga Travel, you can find the best prices for any local or international destination you may have in mind. I urge all intending travelers to check out the prices and offers on the website before making a decision,’’ he concluded.
Having emerged on the scene a little over two years ago, Konga Travel – which was recently named the Most Innovative Agency by the global airline, Virgin Atlantic, as well as Travel Agency of the Year at the 2020 Beacon of ICT (BoICT) Awards – has distinguished itself.
Within a short space of its existence, the company has grown nearly 25 percent on a month-on-month basis, acquired all the requisite and major travel certifications and rolled out multiple physical store locations nationwide.
Supreme Court of Seychelles Findings, Uphold the rights Of African Content Producers
A recent finding of the Supreme Court of the Seychelles in the case of MultiChoice Africa Holdings B.V and SuperSport International (Pty) Ltd v Intelvision Limited, shows African courts are willing to protect the rights of content producers and rights holders.
The Court found that Intelvision was breaking the law when it broadcast matches from the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) football tournament, for which it did not have broadcast rights. This is the first successful application of the Seychelles’ Copyright Act.
This decision sets a strong national and regional precedent in upholding content-sharing agreements to ensure that the rights of content providers are protected at every level of the supply chain. The goal is to ensure that creators are remunerated fairly and the content ecosystem – on which much of modern media is built – remains sustainable.
The Court ordered that a commissioner be appointed to investigate Intelvision’s accounts to assess the benefit derived by Intelvision from the illegal broadcast of the AFCON tournament. Once the investigation is complete, the Court will determine the amount to be paid by Intelvision to MultiChoice Africa and SuperSport as damages suffered by these parties.
Content piracy takes many forms, often simply amounting to intentional content theft. The respondent, Intelvision, was found to be in breach of copyright for its blatant disregard of the rights held by the content producers and rights owners.
While the Seychelles ruling is to be applauded, the fight against piracy is global and Africa is meeting the challenge head on. Civil-society organisations and government agencies across the continent are actively working to protect content-creator and owner rights by developing policy, passing laws and enforcing them.
There is also a willingness among content stakeholders to assert their own rights, as the MultiChoice and SuperSport victory in the Seychelles demonstrates. Increasingly, Africa is building a united front against piracy and fighting for copyright-protection enforcement.
Refugees Worldwide Face Rising Hunger Due to Funding Gaps Amidst Covid-19
Significant funding shortfalls across East and Southern Africa, as well as the Middle East, have forced ration cuts upon some of the world’s most vulnerable people who rely on WFP food to survive.
In East Africa alone, almost three-quarters of refugees have had their rations cut by up to 50 percent. In Southern Africa, refugees in Tanzania who depend entirely on WFP assistance have had their rations cut by almost one-third. Significant funding shortages for the Syria Regional Refugee Response mean 242,000 refugees in Jordan may be cut off from assistance at the end of August unless more funding is received.
“What we may be seeing is the impact of COVID-19 on donor government funding and this is negatively impacting our ability to respond and support some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “The lives of the most marginalized people in the world are on the line and we are urging donors not to turn their backs on refugees when they need it most.”
To avoid any cuts in food assistance – either through reduced rations or excluding people from assistance altogether –sufficient funding is needed at least one month ahead of the expected break in the flow of food to the refugee-hosting countries.
The increasing funding gaps intersect with rising food prices and fewer opportunities for refugees to supplement their food assistance as informal economies shrink due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
Meanwhile, the number of people in desperate need is on the rise globally as conflict, disasters and economic meltdowns are driving up levels of hunger. WFP and other humanitarian agencies face brutal choices. In Rwanda, WFP has rolled out targeted food assistance prioritizing those most in need. Despite this, funding is so short that even the most vulnerable still aren’t receiving full rations, which come in the form of cash assistance.
“During COVID-19 lockdown, we couldn’t leave the camp and we couldn’t earn anything as all casual work outside the camp stopped,” said Ange, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) living in Rwanda. “The situation got worse when our food ration was reduced. My family started facing a serious food shortage.”
Some of the most underfunded WFP operations are also ones with significant refugee populations requiring support. For example, in Uganda WFP supports more than 1.2 million refugees which is 65 percent of the country operations. A country funding shortfall of more than 80 percent has had significant impacts on refugees who rely on WFP assistance.
As a new WFP report indicates a surge in people teetering on the brink of famine – which has risen from 34 million projected at the beginning of the year to 41 million projected as of June – it’s vital that the world steps forward to support the most vulnerable.
WFP refugee operations impacted by funding shortages:
Chad: New refugee influxes from Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) mean WFP may be forced to implement ration cuts and suspend/prioritize activities that will affect vulnerable groups depending on WFP’s support, particularly malnourished children.
Cameroon: WFP may be required to reduce the food rations for the most vulnerable beneficiaries, including 70,000 Nigerian and 100,000 CAR refugees.
Democratic Republic of Congo: In 2021, WFP has supported about 148,000 camp-based refugees in DRC, including the recent influx of about 92,000 refugees from CAR. Since May 2020, WFP DRC has been applying an average of 25% ration cuts to its refugee assistance programme.
East Africa: Funding shortfalls have forced ration cuts for over 3 million refugees of up to 60%. Rations were cut by 50% in South Sudan, 40% in Uganda and Kenya, 23% in Djibouti, 16% in Ethiopia and 8% in Rwanda.
Malawi: Under its refugee response, WFP Malawi rolled out cash-based transfers and kick-started livelihood support activities to enhance self-reliance for refugees. However, funding shortfalls have led to a 25% ration cut since July 2020.
Republic of Congo: WFP provides assistance to more than 20,000 refugees from CAR. Significant shortfalls have meant that food distribution cycles have been irregular.
Syria Refugee Regional: In the five countries where WFP supports Syrian refugees, USD 408 million is required for the next six months.
- In Jordan, at least 21,000 refugees will no longer receive WFP’s food assistance starting 1 July. If no additional funding materializes, WFP will have to cut off an additional 242,000 refugees at the end of August. Around 220,000 extremely vulnerable refugees in camps and communities will continue to receive WFP support through September.
- In Egypt, WFP – through joint targeting with UNHCR – is looking at prioritizing assistance to 110,000 people, reducing the number of beneficiaries by 20,000.
Tanzania: The WFP refugee operation faced significant funding shortfalls leading to ration cuts of up to 32 percent of the minimum calorie requirement since December 2020. Photos available here.
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