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Coronavirus: Barcelona beach trip for recovering patients - BBC News
Hospital del Mar is taking coronavirus patients to the seaside as part of their recovery.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption The trips are part of a recovery programme for coronavirus patients Spanish coronavirus patients are taking trips to the seaside as part of their recovery from the illness. Medical teams at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona have been photographed wheeling people to the beach as part of a programme designed to humanise intensive care units. In total, Spain has confirmed 239,932 infections and 27,127 deaths. The government has slowly begun to ease what was one of Europe's most restrictive lockdowns. At one point people could not go out to exercise and children were not allowed to leave their homes for any reason. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Isidre Correa was taken to the seaside on Wednesday Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption He has been in hospital since 14 April But Spain has brought its outbreak under control in recent weeks. Tuesday was the second day running that Spain did not report a single coronavirus death over the previous 24 hours. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez asked parliament for one further extension to the state of emergency until 21 June. "We have overcome the worst of the pandemic," Mr Sanchez said. But opposition parties have criticised his response to the outbreak and the repeated extensions of the state of emergency. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Spain reopened most of its beaches on Monday Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption There is hope tourists will soon return to the hard-hit Mediterranean country .
SA court rules lockdown restrictions 'irrational' - BBC News
Rules around funerals, informal workers and exercise were found to be unconnected to halting the virus.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption South Africa has had some of the most restrictive lockdown measures in the world A South African court has found some coronavirus lockdown regulations imposed by the government "unconstitutional and invalid". The judge picked out rules around funerals, informal workers and amount of exercise as "irrational". The government was given14 days to overhaul the regulations. South Africa initially had some of the world's most restrictive lockdown measures. The country has 35,812 confirmed cases and 755 deaths. The case was filed by the Liberty Fighters Network and the Hola Bona Renaissance Foundation. What did the judge say? The high court in the capital, Pretoria, ruled that the regulations were not connected to slowing the rate of infection or limiting its spread. "The regulations... in a substantial number of instances are not rationally connected to the objectives of slowing the rate of infection or limiting the spread thereof," the written judgement read. Judge Norman Davis argued it was wrong to allow people to travel to attend funerals but not to earn their livelihoods by street trading, as many South Africans do. The government said it will review the regulations but in the meantime the current lockdown regulations will apply. Police have opened almost 230,000 cases for violating lockdown regulations since the beginning of lockdown on 26 March, according to the Police Minister Bheki Cele. Contraventions have included breaches of the ban on alcohol and cigarette trade, failure to stay at home and gathering illegally. On Wednesday Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned on state TV that coronavirus was a bigger threat now than at the start of the lockdown, and he called on people to remain vigilant as cases continue to rise. What are the implcations of the ruling? By Nomsa Maseko, BBC News, Johannesburg The South African government has been criticised over some its lockdown regulations, many describing them as bizarre and arbitrary because it banned things like the sale of cooked food, tobacco products, alcohol and even prescribed what items of clothing people were allowed to buy. At one point during level four of the lockdown, short-sleeved T-shirts became contraband as retailers were not allowed to sell them. This ruling has serious implications about those who were imprisoned or fined for not complying with lockdown regulations. Will the fines stay in place or will they be overturned by the courts? While all of this plays out, South Africa is gearing up for confusion or even people outright ignoring lockdown rules - some local media are not making it clear that the government has two weeks to rectify the regulations. There is also a possibility that the government will appeal against the court ruling. Meanwhile, the opposition Democratic Alliance is also taking the government to the constitutional court, arguing that the Disaster Management Act legislation which governs South Africa's lockdown be ruled unconstitutional. South Africa has eased its lockdown restrictions and this week alcohol sales resumed following a two-month ban - but only for home consumption. But all sales of cigarettes remain outlawed. Gatherings, except for work, religious ceremonies and funerals, are still banned. Travel between provinces is also prohibited, and international flights are cancelled except for those repatriating citizens. Media captionThe impact of South Africa's alcohol and cigarette ban in lockdown
Google in $5bn lawsuit for tracking in 'private' mode - BBC News
The search engine giant says it is upfront about what data is collected when users browse incognito.
Image copyrightGetty Images Google has been sued in the US over claims it illegally invades the privacy of users by tracking people even when they are browsing in "private mode". The class action wants at least $5bn (£4bn) from Google and owner Alphabet. Many internet users assume their search history isn't being tracked when they view in private mode, but Google says this isn't the case. The search engine denies this is illegal and says it is upfront about the data it collects in this mode. The proposed class action likely includes "millions" of Google users who since 1 June 2016 browsed the internet in private mode according to law firm Boies Schiller Flexner who filed the claim on Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California. Incognito mode within Google's Chrome browser gives users the choice to search the internet without their activity being saved to the browser or device. But the websites visited can use tools such as Google Analytics to track usage. The complaint says that Google "cannot continue to engage in the covert and unauthorized data collection from virtually every American with a computer or phone". Vigorously denying the claims Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said: "As we clearly state each time you open a new incognito tab, websites might be able to collect information about your browsing activity". The search engine says the collection of search history, even in private viewing mode, helps site owners "better evaluate the performance of their content, products, marketing and more." While private browsing has been available from Google for some time, Boies Schiller Flexner said it recently decided to represent three plaintiffs based in the US. "People everywhere are becoming more aware (and concerned) that their personal communications are being intercepted, collected, recorded, or exploited for gain by technology companies they have come to depend on," it said in the filing. One option is for visitors to install Google Analytics browser opt-out extension to disable measurement by Google Analytics, it says.
Coronavirus: Ibuprofen tested as a treatment - BBC News
Hospital patients sick with the virus will be given the drug to see if it can help with their breathing.
Image copyrightGetty Images Scientists are running a trial to see if ibuprofen can help hospital patients who are sick with coronavirus. The team from London's Guy's and St Thomas' hospital and King's College believe the drug, which is an anti-inflammatory as well as a painkiller, could treat breathing difficulties. They hope the low-cost treatment can keep patients off ventilators. In the trial, called Liberate, half of the patients will receive ibuprofen in addition to usual care. The trial will use a special formulation of ibuprofen rather than the regular tablets that people might usually buy. Some people already take this lipid capsule form of the drug for conditions like arthritis. Studies in animals suggest it might treat acute respiratory distress syndrome - one of the complications of severe coronavirus. Prof Mitul Mehta, one of the team at King's College London, said: "We need to do a trial to show that the evidence actually matches what we expect to happen." Early in the pandemic there were some concerns that ibuprofen might be bad for people to take, should they have the virus with mild symptoms. These were heightened when France's health minister Oliver Veran said that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, could aggravate the infection and advised patients to take paracetamol instead. A review by the Commission on Human Medicines quickly concluded that, like paracetamol, it was safe to take for coronavirus symptoms. Both can bring a temperature down and help with flu-like symptoms. For mild coronavirus symptoms, the NHS advises people try paracetamol first, as it has fewer side-effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people. You should not take ibuprofen if you have a stomach ulcer, for example.
Coronavirus: South Africans cheer as alcohol goes back on sale - BBC News
People were banned from buying it as part of efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Image copyrightAFPImage caption Traders will only be permitted to sell alcohol for consumption off-site Long queues have formed outside shops selling alcohol in South Africa after restrictions on its sale, imposed two months ago as part of measures to fight Covid-19, were lifted. Social media posts showed people, who had braved the morning chill, cheering as buyers emerged with their bottles. The alcohol ban was to allow police and hospitals to better focus on tackling the coronavirus, the authorities said. Alcohol-fuelled violence is a huge problem in South Africa. Doctors and police say the ban has had a dramatic impact, contributing to a sharp drop in casualty admissions. Image copyrightAFP But the country's brewers and its wine makers had complained that they were being driven out of business. The government has also lost a fortune in tax revenue, reports the BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg. The authorities are now in the process of easing one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. As part of this latest step - known as level three - President Cyril Ramaphosa said that from 1 June the sale of alcohol would resume, but only between 09:00 and 17:00 and not on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Also, the alcohol can only be drunk at home rather than where it was bought. Media captionIn rural areas of the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, clean water is scarce, making hand washing difficult The authorities had warned customers not to rush to the shops but rather stagger their purchases throughout the week to avoid crowds and to reduce the risk of infection, the BBC's Vumani Mkhize in Johannesburg reports. On Twitter, "Tops", the name of a liquor store, and "level three" are the top trending topics in South Africa, with people sharing pictures of celebrating - some singing - the return of alcohol sales: Image copyrightAFPImage caption Queues of people waiting for buses to return to work At least eight million people are estimated to have gone back to work on Monday as most sectors of the economy have resumed operations. Teachers and learners were expected to return to school on Monday but the authorities have pushed back the resumption to next week. Trade unions representing teachers have urged their members to stay home until health and safety regulations to curb the spread of coronavirus were met, the BBC's Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg reports. The education department had promised to disinfect buildings, and provide clean, running water and personal protective equipment for all schools. But many had still not received the items, she adds. Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said that the authorities will use this week to prepare schools on safety plans against the virus. Despite the easing of restrictions in South Africa , infection rates for coronavirus continue to rise. Cape Town is currently experiencing a sharp spike and other major cities are expected to follow suit. The country is also grappling with a serious shortage of testing equipment. It has reported more than 32,000 cases of coronavirus and 683 deaths.
Amazon UK website defaced with racist abuse - BBC News
The online giant blames a "bad actor" for the language appearing alongside multiple product listings.
Image copyrightGetty Images Amazon has blamed a "bad actor" for racist abuse that appeared on multiple listings on its UK website. The abuse, now removed, appeared when users searched the online shop for Apple AirPods and similar products. It was unclear how long the racist language remained on the site, but it sparked outrage on Twitter and the sharing of screenshots and video grabs. "We are removing the images in question and have taken action on the bad actor," Amazon told the BBC. The company did not elaborate on the "bad actor", nor give details of how many products were defaced and how long the abuse was visible on the listings. Nadine White, a journalist for the Huffington Post, tweeted that the abuse "needs to be acknowledged, removed, explained, apologised for asap. Being Black right now is hard enough; we don't need to be called the N- word while shopping online, to boot". Another Twitter user said Amazon should have been able to remove the offending messages in minutes. "They're still on Amazon UK. Extraordinarily poor site administration," he said during early hours of Sunday. Amazon also allows third-party retailers to sell goods through its website, with the company making about half its retail revenues from this. But the Amazon Marketplace platform has come under scrutiny. There has been concern about counterfeit goods appearing in the listings, and during the coronavirus pandemic Amazon was criticised for not doing enough to stop sellers inflating prices. In April, five Amazon e-commerce websites, including the UK, were added to the US trade regulator's "notorious markets" report on marketplaces known for counterfeiting and piracy concerns. Amazon disagreed strongly with the move, saying in a statement that "this purely political act is another example of the administration using the US government to advance a personal vendetta against Amazon".
Coronavirus in South Africa: Eight lessons for the rest of the continent - BBC News
What South Africa can teach other African countries gearing up for a spike in infections.
Image copyrightGetty Images South Africa leads this continent in many ways. Right now, it is poised to lead Africa into the next, most dangerous phase of the pandemic, as the country braces itself for a dramatic rise in infections that will almost certainly overwhelm its relatively well-resourced healthcare system. Here are eight things it can teach the rest of Africa: 1) Keep the tea rooms clean No, it is not a joke. Governments, and medical teams, still need to focus a lot more on hygiene. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption The most dangerous place in a clinic is considered the tea room Instead of wasting time and money - as many experts now see it - on acquiring expensive but relatively ineffective ventilators, the evidence from South African hospitals already grappling with the virus points to the need for vastly improved hygiene protocols. Several major hospitals have already been forced to shut after becoming hot spots for the virus. Doctors are warning that medical staff continue to congregate in tea rooms, removing their masks, passing mobile phones to each other, and undermining all the work they do on the wards. "The most dangerous place in a clinic is undoubtedly the tea room. We're trying to get that message out," said Doctor Tom Boyles, an infectious disease specialist in Johannesburg. 2) Fast tests - or no tests After a promising start, South Africa is now struggling, woefully, with its testing. It has built up a huge backlog - "tens of thousands" according to several sources - at its laboratories, which is now undermining the validity of the entire testing process. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption It is taking 14 days to get the results of Covid-19 tests "How do we prioritise limited resources?" asked Prof Shabir Madhi, a prominent vaccine expert, who said South Africa's likely testing limit - because of financial and logistical constraints - would stay at about 20,000 per day. An impressive number, perhaps, but of no real use, doctors insist, unless the results of those tests can reliably be produced within, ideally, 24 hours. Much longer than that and an infected person will either have spread the virus to too many others to trace properly, or they will already be in hospital, or they will have passed the point of serious risk for infecting others. "Currently the turnaround time for Covid tests is around 14 days in most places, so that basically means it's a complete waste of time," said Dr Boyles. The same concerns apply to South Africa's much-hailed community screening and testing programme which, experts say, has outlived its usefulness, since the virus has now spread far beyond the capacity of the country's large team of community health workers to track with any effectiveness. "The timeline renders it meaningless and compromises the care that should be occurring in hospitals," according to Prof Madhi, who said it was vital that the testing system be aimed, as efficiently as possible, at hospitals, medical staff and those at most risk. But there are signs of a political battle delaying these changes, with officials reportedly resisting calls for older tests to be simply thrown away. 3) It is not old age, it is obesity Much has been made of the fact that Africa has an unusually young population, and, indeed, that may yet help to mitigate the impact of the virus here. But the evidence from several South African hospitals already suggests that alarmingly high levels of obesity - along with hypertension and diabetes - in younger Covid-19 patients are linked to many fatalities. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption More than half of all South Africans are now considered medically overweight It is believed that as many South Africans suffer from hypertension and diabetes as from HIV - some seven million people. That is one in eight of the population. Some of them are undiagnosed. Two-thirds of coronavirus deaths in South Africa so far are among people aged under 65, according to Prof Madhi. "Obesity is a big issue, along with hypertension and diabetes," he said. Although demographic differences make it hard to make direct comparisons between countries, over half of younger South Africans who are dying from Covid-19 have some other illness - roughly twice the rate seen in Europe. 4) Exposure isn't always exposure A busy antenatal clinic in Johannesburg recently closed down following reports that one member of staff had been exposed to a coronavirus patient. Twelve nurses were sent home and told to self-isolate. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Experts say the fear factor about coronavirus needs to be addressed The move has been quietly condemned by many doctors who see it as evidence of a wider climate of unnecessary fear and over-caution among medical staff which is in danger of crippling the country's health system and undermining its fight against the virus. "There needs to be clear guidance on what sort exposure is significant. We have not adequately demystified this virus," said Prof Madhi, who stressed that a person needed to spend 15 minutes or more in close proximity to a confirmed case to be considered at serious risk of infection. Unions have been understandably robust in seeking to protect their members and to raise concerns where personal protection equipment (PPE) has been lacking. But several medical workers told me that tougher discipline was needed to enforce hygiene protocols among staff - along with better education and training about managing risk. "Fear is the predominant factor. Morale is definitely low," said one hospital doctor, on condition of anonymity. "But you also find people who are looking to get quarantined, who are very happy to take a two-week paid holiday" in self-isolation. 5) The devil is in the detail This week South Africa announced that religious groups could resume worship in gatherings of no more than 50 people. The move was clearly a political concession by a government under pressure to ease lockdown restrictions and that understands that to retain public trust over the longer-term it must show signs of give and take. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption During the lockdown churches have been empty and services have gone online But the decision carries significant risks. Religious gatherings - often attracting older people - are known globally to be hot spots for spreading the virus. By choosing to ignore that fact, the government may be undercutting its own messaging. "It undermines any pretence that the regulations are rules are science-based," said political scientist and commentator Richard Calland. One option for the government might have been to bar anyone over 65 from attending a religious service. Instead it has told religious leaders to implement strict social-distancing and hygiene policies in their churches and mosques. Will they comply? All non-authoritarian governments eventually have to rely on the public's willingness to obey, not just the broad spirit of any regulations, but - as the tea room troubles indicate - the granular detail of clean prayer mats, no-contact services and no more than one person for every 2.5 sq m (about 26 sq ft) of church hall. 6) Winning the peace South Africa's official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has been struggling to make itself heard during the lockdown. A crisis of this magnitude inevitably pushes opposition parties to the sidelines and, one could argue, they would do well to stay there. Coronavirus in Africa: When the DA has sought to attract attention to itself, it has shown signs of flip-flopping on policy. "They should be playing a much longer game, looking to win the peace, not the war," said Mr Calland, citing the example of Clement Atlee, who swept to power in the UK, defeating Winston Churchill in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption President Ramaphosa's political rivals will seek to blame him for the inevitable rise in infections The much smaller, populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has already indicated how it plans to win political capital from the crisis, by opposing any easing of the lockdown (its racialised antipathy to foreign investment and to big business freeing it from serious concern about the economic impact). It will presumably seek to blame President Cyril Ramaphosa for the inevitable rise in infections and deaths. Mr Ramaphosa's own enemies within the governing African National Congress (ANC) - currently silenced - may well make common cause with the EFF on that issue. The blame game will be a brutal one across the continent. Will the power of incumbency - such an important factor in African politics and beyond - prove to be a strength or a weakness with Covid-19? 7) Bring the public with you When South Africa banned the sale of alcohol during the lockdown, many people accepted it as a harsh, but perhaps necessary step to limit domestic abuse, prevent violence, and thus keep hospital beds free for coronavirus patients. But over time, frustration - with the ban, and with the brutal and haphazard enforcement of it - has grown and the clampdown is now set to be partly lifted. So far so good. But in tandem with the alcohol ban, South Africa put a stop to all cigarettes sales too. And that will remain in force indefinitely. The government insists its decision is based on scientific evidence, but few people seem to believe that is what is really guiding ministers. Instead many suspect that officials are using the lockdown as cover to introduce their own pet projects. Media captionThe impact of South Africa's alcohol and cigarette ban in lockdown The ban is playing into the hands of powerful criminal syndicates controlling contraband cigarettes, and is costing the government a fortune in lost tax revenues. But perhaps more importantly, it is undermining the credibility of the lockdown regulations themselves - making compliance, as the country moves to ease some restrictions on movement, less likely. 8) Keeping it simple For weeks, it seemed, everyone was talking about finding and building ventilators. But the experience of frontline doctors in Cape Town has already shown that simpler, cheaper and less-intrusive devices can play a far more important role. Countries need to plan according to their limited resources. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption With Covid-19 breathing can become difficult and the lungs get inflamed "The investment in ventilators was a huge waste," said Prof Madhi, who, like colleagues in Cape Town, stressed the importance of high-flow nasal oxygen machines that work more efficiently than more traditional oxygen masks. He said he had been "raising the alarm" about the need to improve South Africa's supply of oxygen "for about six weeks". Hospitals in Cape Town are also following the international example of "proning" - lying patients face down in order to improve oxygen supply to their lungs. The principal of looking for simpler solutions applies to staffing too, with many doctors urging the health authorities to focus on bringing final-year medical students, and perhaps retired staff, into an overstretched system, rather than importing expensive foreign doctors from places like Cuba.
Coronavirus in South Africa: Smokers fume at cigarette ban - BBC News
The government is to ease lockdown restrictions and allow the sale of alcohol - but not cigarettes.
Image copyrightGetty Images The illicit trade in cigarettes in South Africa is now in full swing after the sale of tobacco was banned at the end of March as part of strict measures imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, as the BBC's Pumza Fihlani reports. Whereas once Michelle could go to her local shop in South Africa's commercial hub, Johannesburg, to buy cigarettes she is now having to do a secret deal. The 29-year-old economist finds sellers through contacts in WhatsApp groups and arranges a covert meeting in order to get her nicotine fix. "Once you've found a seller you can trust, a meeting point or pick-up point is arranged," she said. 'No chance to stock up' Michelle, which is not her real name, is not the only one. What was perfectly legal two months ago has turned thousands of people into potential criminals. "No warning was given for the ban, so I personally wasn't sufficiently prepared - either to get a stockpile or prepare to go without," Michelle, who has been smoking for four years, told the BBC. Smoking in South Africa
- 37% of menaged 15 or over smoke
- 8% of womenaged 15 or over smoke
- Most smokebetween one and nine cigarettes a day
- Smoking decreasedsince 1998
- $790m was raisedin government revenue from smoking last financial year
South Africa's coronavirus lockdown: Doubts creep in - BBC News
South Africa has been praised for halting the spread of coronavirus but unity is wearing thin.
Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption President Cyril Ramaphosa is struggling to keep support for the lockdown It is tempting to imagine that South Africa will look back, almost fondly, on late March 2020 as a special moment in its young democracy. As plenty of nations around the world appeared to flounder, or panic, or even turn their backs on the rising threat of Covid-19, this country was possessed by a rare and extraordinary degree of unity and decisiveness. President Cyril Ramaphosa - a man whose consensus-building instincts have long been a source of frustration to many here - was transformed into a man of action, brusquely implementing a series of almost unimaginably severe and decisive steps that changed South Africa overnight, and proved stunningly effective at breaking the upward curve of infections. In an era when so many politicians are reaching for war metaphors and comparisons, this was, you could argue, South Africa's Dunkirk moment - an inspired retreat in the face of a formidable adversary that bought the country essential time (as the Dunkirk evacuations did for war-time Britain's military) to regroup and to shore up its defences. New daily coronavirus cases South Africa That "Dunkirk spirit" has not evaporated yet. Far from it. At the grass roots, in particular, South Africa is still bursting with examples of ingenuity and cohesion, as businesses and communities reach out to help each other and to support the millions who are, increasingly, struggling to feed their families. 'Feuding generals' But we are now over six weeks into what remains one of the toughest lockdowns on earth, the government's health experts are predicting that the peak of the epidemic may still be two or three months away, infection numbers are surging in some regions, and the shocked silence and prompt conformity that greeted Mr Ramaphosa's early diktats has been replaced by an increasingly sceptical, angry, and politicised debate. A return to business as usual in this famously fractious nation? Perhaps. But South Africa is entering a long and difficult period in its fight against Covid-19. To borrow yet another parallel from World War II, you could argue that, after the success of its Dunkirk phase, these could prove to be the country's Stalingrad months - a grinding battle of attrition characterised by tense skirmishes, feuding generals, and a potential collapse in troop morale. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption The lockdown has worsened hunger in some communities Mr Ramaphosa has not retreated to his bunker - indeed he has continued to win praise for his level-headed approach, urging South Africans to avoid careless or reckless behaviour and to "accept the reality, prepare for it and adapt to it". But the image of a united African National Congress (ANC) cabinet - so important in terms of convincing the public to endure such hardships indefinitely - is being eroded. You may also be interested in: A gap appears to separate those who, perhaps more inclined to follow China's example, are in favour of a more intrusive, heavy-handed approach by the state - including plans to quarantine new confirmed virus cases in hospitals, and the decision to extend the controversial ban on all cigarette and alcohol purchases and to enforce a new overnight curfew - from those in cabinet more attuned to the interests of the business lobby which would prefer to see a lighter touch and the lockdown eased more quickly. There is logic to both approaches, and nothing wrong with robust debate within government. But as many countries are now discovering, the nuanced calculations and messaging required in this second phase of the pandemic are proving even harder to get right than the pressured decisions of the initial stage. Cumulative number of coronavirus cases South Africa And the stakes here are particularly high. Business leaders are now warning that if the lockdown does not ease sharply soon, South Africa's gross domestic product could shrink by over 16%, and up to four million jobs could be threatened - staggering figures for any country, but particularly challenging for an economy already in recession and wrestling with a 27% unemployment rate. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has warned that the government is abusing its power with "arbitrary rules" and "outrageous announcements" that are "increasingly met with resistance and even outright civil disobedience". You may want to watch: Media captionCoronavirus in Africa: Tips to improve your mental health during lockdown The DA wants the alcohol and cigarette bans lifted, and an end to the "ANC lockdown crisis". The ANC has, in turn, accused the DA of "dishonest irresponsible and reckless" behaviour. Seeking to rise above these disputes, President Ramaphosa has emphasised the dangers - already seen in other countries - of a "second wave" of infections. Looming over all these concerns and considerations is the key issue of South Africa's own health system and whether it can contain the viral spikes that many experts now believe are approaching, and whether the crucial weeks of extra time gained by the government's initial Dunkirk strategy have been put to good enough use to turn the tide in the Stalingrad battles that may yet lie ahead.
Coronavirus: Which African countries are ahead on testing? - BBC News
African states face real challenges in trying to expand their testing for the coronavirus.
Image copyrightGetty Images Testing plays a major role in the response to the coronavirus, as it helps us understand how far the disease has spread. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which co-ordinates pandemic responses across the continent, says there is a large gap in testing rates between nations. So which countries are succeeding in testing, and which are lagging behind? Who is testing most and least? Some of the Africa's smaller nations have achieved significantly better rates of testing than their larger neighbours. Mauritius and Djibouti, for example, have both achieved high rates of testing per capita. Ghana has also been praised for its level of testing, which its government says will help contain the spread of the virus once the lockdown is lifted. South Africa has also pursued a relatively aggressive testing strategy, and has so far managed over 200,000 tests. But this is way behind the numbers in countries like South Korea, Italy and Germany. There are concerns that Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, is not testing nearly enough - although the government insists it's focusing on "clusters" of positive cases. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption Social distancing in Uganda The BBC's Nigeria-based correspondent Chi Chi Izundu says the authorities are scaling up testing. "The aim is to be at 5,000 a day - but they've not even got to 1,000." It's worth adding that there are some countries on the continent where testing data is not available, such as Eritrea and Algeria. Some don't have testing capacity, while others for various reasons won't give out data. For example, President Magufuli of Tanzania has said releasing such data creates fear. His country has only released information intermittently, sometimes just giving out the numbers of people who have recovered from the virus. What are the obstacles to more testing? Getting hold of the chemical reagents needed to process tests can be difficult, as African countries don't produce their own and need to compete for limited global supplies. John Nkengasong of Africa's Centres for Disease Control says "the collapse of global co-operation and a failure of international solidarity has shoved Africa out of the diagnostics market". He says African countries might have funds, but "70 countries imposing restrictions on exports of medical materials" has made it difficult to buy necessary goods. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption A person holding a flyer in Nigeria, which tells people how to curb the spread of the virus There are also other barriers to increasing testing, including the lockdown measures to restrict movement, which can make it difficult for people to get to test sites. However, Ngozi Erondu, assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the bigger issue is the equipment. "It is not having enough kits and reagents," she says. Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control currently has 18 testing laboratories which can process tests that tell you if you have the disease. But it has put out an urgent plea for essential testing equipment. Kenya has also admitted to facing challenges in getting testing kits, swabs and reagents, and its overall testing figure has fallen recently as a result. The head of one of Kenya's regional governments said recently that there were only 5,000 testing kits in the country, and that they were expecting 24,000 more. Image copyrightGetty ImagesImage caption A meeting in Nigeria's Lagos state to plan for tackling coronavirus There are also other social and political factors which could be barriers to greater testing. "In some communities there could be a stigma attached to having the coronavirus," says Ngozi Erondu. "It's also the case that local leaders may push back against testing if they are up for an election." The African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control have launched an initiative, the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT), which focuses on tracking, testing and tracing. The initiative aims to roll out about one million tests in four weeks across the whole continent. The earlier coronavirus outbreaks in Asia and Europe gave African states time to consider their responses, and the experience of handling epidemics such as Ebola has also helped them. But acquiring testing kits in a competitive global market, getting tests to where they need to be and setting up the labs to process samples is not a simple task for countries with less economic clout and weaker healthcare systems. Read more from Reality Check Send us your questions Follow us on Twitter