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Coronavirus

Trump defends Stella Immanuel’s hydroxychloroquine video

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President Donald Trump has defended the viral video of Dr Stella Immanuel and again approved the use of a disproved anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19.

In a White House briefing, the US president defended his decision to promote a viral video of a group of doctors promoting the use of hydroxychloroquine, despite his own administration withdrawing emergency authorisation for its use against the coronavirus.

Despite scientific studies showing hydroxychloroquine can do more harm than good when used to treat coronavirus symptoms, Trump, who first touted the drug as a coronavirus cure in March, said he believed it worked “in the early stages.”

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Due to the risks of serious side effects such as heart rhythm problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency-use authorisation of the drug for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is currently “no proof” the anti-malaria drug is effective as a coronavirus treatment nor that it can prevent the virus.

The president’s comments come after Twitter temporarily suspended his son Donald Trump Jr.’s account after he posted a video on Facebook and Twitter which promoted the drug.

In the video, Dr. Stella Immanuel, a physician from Houston, promotes hydroxychloroquine as a cure for coronavirus. She claims to have successfully treated 350 people.

“You don’t need masks, there is a cure,” Immanuel says in the video.

But she is seen regularly wearing masks in videos posted to her Facebook page, where she preaches during religious events.

“I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her,” Trump said about Immanuel, sidestepping questions about her history of dubious medical claims.

On Tuesday, Trump also backed away from criticism of Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who is on the White House coronavirus task force, who he had criticised in Tweets a day earlier.

“I get along with him very well,” Trump said.

In the run-up to the November presidential election he also appeared envious of his widespread approval rating.

“He’s got a very good approval rating, and I like that,” Trump said, adding that Fauci and White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx work for him, “yet they’re highly thought of but nobody likes me.”

More than four million people in the US have been infected by COVID-19 and the death toll is nearing 150,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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General

Nigeria records 443 new Covid-19 cases, toll now 45,687

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Nigeria has recorded 443 more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total infections to 45,687.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this on Friday night via Twitter.

The new infections were recorded Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory and 17 other states of the federation.

Unlike previous cases, Plateau overtook Lagos by 33 cases thus recording 103 infections with the nation’s commercial capital trailing behind with 70 cases.

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The FCT, on the other hand, came third on the list with 60 cases.

Other states with new infections include Ondo – 35, Edo and Rivers – 27, Kaduna – 20, Osun – 19, Borno and Oyo – 18, Kwara – 11, Adamawa – 9, Nasarawa – 7, Gombe – 6, Bayelsa and Imo – 4, Bauchi and Ogun – 2 and Kano – 1.

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Entertainment

Naira Marley fined N100,000 for breaching COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

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Nigerian musician Azeez Fashola, better known by his stage name Naira Marley, has pleaded guilty to breaching Covid-19 lockdown restrictions when he travelled to the capital, Abuja, for a concert.

The musician was arrested on Thursday alongside his manager for the offence committed in June when the government had banned non-essential travel to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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They pleaded guilty and were each fined N100,000($258; £197).

The airline that flew them from the commercial hub of Lagos to Abuja was suspended indefinitely by the aviation minister but later allowed to resume operations.

The airline said it mistook the musician’s surname for a judge who was on essential travel.

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Nigeria’s Channel television tweeted:

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Coronavirus

Africa’s COVID-19 cases now over 1 million

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Africa’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 1 million, a Reuters tally showed on Thursday, as the disease began to spread rapidly through a continent whose relative isolation has so far spared it the worst of the pandemic.

The continent recorded 1,003,056 cases, of which 21,983 have died and 676,395 recovered. South Africa – which is the world’s fifth worst-hit nation and makes up more than half of sub-Saharan Africa’s caseload – has recorded 538,184 cases since its first case on March 5, the health ministry said on Thursday.

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Low levels of testing in several countries, apart from South Africa, mean Africa’s infection rates are likely to be higher than reported, experts say.

In South Africa, a study last month showed some 17,000 deaths above the normal rate, or a 60% excess, between early May and mid-July, suggesting more people are dying of COVID-19 than official figures reflect.

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Many African countries imposed quick lockdowns and shut their borders early, buying precious time to prepare hospitals, set up testing machines and learn from evolving treatments.

But governments, mindful of the damage to their economies and the risk of widespread hunger, have mostly lifted lockdowns.

Despite South Africa’s early efforts to contain the virus, its already creaking public health services are overwhelmed and there are shortages of beds, protective gear and nurses. COVID-19 patients have sometimes had to be treated alongside others.

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Few African nations have health services as advanced as South Africa.

Reuters

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