Connect with us

Foreign News

South Africa coronavirus cases rise to 2,415, China donates equipment



South Africa coronavirus cases rise to 2,415, China donates equipment

…As Greeks move 1,000 migrants from camps to hotels amid outbreak***

South Africa’s health minister on Tuesday reported a rise in coronavirus cases of 143 over the past day, taking the total to 2,415.

The Health Minister, Zwelini Mkhize, said this at a news conference at Johannesburg airport.

Mkhize provided no update on the number of deaths, which a day earlier stood at 27.

The total number of tests conducted so far was 87,022.

“We still have a long way to go. This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,’’ he said.

He added that a donation of equipment from China that had just landed would help South Africa “in fighting this invisible enemy called COVID-19”.

These included 10,000 N95 masks and disposable gloves, 50,000 surgical disposable masks – enough for about 6-8 weeks – as well as 2,000 medical protective gowns and goggles.

Also read:  Ecuadorian government removes 771 bodies from virus-hit city

At the same news conference, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said she was aware of complaints of allegedly racist treatment of South Africans in China, and that “we believe we can accept the commitment of … China to address these concerns”.

Several African countries have demanded that China address their concerns that Africans, in particular in the southern city of Guangzhou, are being mistreated and harassed.

Cases of COVID-19 – the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus – in South Africa are creeping up, but not at the explosive rate that was initially feared.

The rate of new infections has slowed significantly since President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a nationwide lockdown on March 27 and extended it to the end of April.

Africa’s most industrialised nation still has the most confirmed coronavirus cases on the continent, which has registered a total of 5,741 so far.

In a bid to counteract the economic fallout from the lockdown, South Africa’s central bank slashed its main lending rate by another 100 basis points on Tuesday, to a record-low 4.25 per cent, after moving forward its monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting scheduled for May.

In the meantime, about 1,000 vulnerable refugees from the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands are being moved to hotels temporarily due to the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus, the European Union’s Interior Commissioner said on Tuesday.

The migrants are to be moved from the camps on Lesbos and other islands to empty hotels, Ylva Johansson wrote on Twitter.

Johansson thanked the UN Refugee Agency, the International Organisation for Migration, the Greek government and the EU Commission for their efforts to make this possible.

She also praised the generosity of the Greek people.

“EU values in practice, even in such trying times,” Johansson wrote in her tweet.

Some people were transferred to the vacant hotels on the islands and the mainland on Tuesday and the others will follow on Wednesday, a European spokesman said.

Some 10,000 migrants have already been brought from the islands to mainland Greece during the first three months of the year, according to the Greek Ministry for Migration.

Under the agreement between the EU and Turkey, migrants can only be sent back to Turkey from the islands.

Amid the epidemic, politicians and NGOs have repeatedly called for the camps to be cleared completely, given the overcrowding and poor hygiene conditions.

Although there is officially only space in the camps on Lesbos, Samos, Kos, Leros and Chios for 7,000 migrants, some 40,000 migrants are presently living there.


Foreign News

Israel Rejects Calls For Ceasefire Before UN Security Council



Israel at the United Nations Security Council in New York on Wednesday rejected calls for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the most powerful UN body that with a ceasefire in place, Israel would not be able to protect its citizens.

“Anyone who supports a ceasefire, basically supports Hamas’ continued reign of terror in Gaza,” he said.

One could not demand a ceasefire and at the same time claim to be seeking a solution to the conflict, Erdan said further, noting that the militant Hamas is not a partner for reliable peace.

“Hamas has publicly stated – you all saw it – that it will repeat Oct. 7 over and over again until Israel is no more.

“How would you respond and defend your citizens from such a clear threat with a ceasefire?” he queried.

Erdan maintained that there could only be an end to the violence if Hamas handed over all its hostages and everyone else involved in the attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

  • dpa
Continue Reading

Foreign News

Report of Israeli hostage family’s deaths overshadows negotiations on Gaza truce



Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to extend the Gaza truce were overshadowed at the last minute on Wednesday by an unconfirmed claim by Hamas that a family of Israeli hostages including a 10-month-old baby had been killed.

Shortly before the final release of women and children hostages scheduled under the truce, the military wing of Hamas said in a statement that the youngest hostage, baby Kfir Bibas, had been killed in an earlier Israeli bombing, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel and their mother.

Their father, who has also been held, was not mentioned in the statement.

Israeli officials said they were checking the Hamas claim, a highly emotive issue in Israel where the family is among the highest-profile civilian hostages yet to be freed.

“The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is assessing the accuracy of the information,” the military said in a statement which added that it held Hamas responsible for the safety of all the hostages in Gaza.

Relatives had issued a special appeal for the family’s freedom after the children and their parents were excluded from the penultimate group freed on Tuesday.

An Israeli official said it would be impossible to extend the ceasefire on Thursday morning, due to a lapse, without a commitment to release all women and children among the hostages.

The official said Israel believed militants were still holding enough women and children to prolong the truce by 2-3 days.

Egyptian security sources also said negotiators believed a two-day extension was possible.

Families of those Israeli hostages due to be released later on Wednesday had already been informed earlier of their names, the final group to be freed under the truce unless negotiators succeeded in extending it.

Officials did not say at the time whether that included the Bibas family.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers published a list of 15 women and 15 teenage Palestinians to be released from Israeli jails in return for the hostages released on Wednesday.

The hostages were seized by militants in their deadly raid on Israel on Oct. 7.

For the first time since the truce began, the list of Palestinians to be freed included Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as residents of occupied territory.

So far, Gaza militants have freed 60 Israeli women and children from among 240 hostages, under the deal that secured the war’s first truce.

At least 21 foreigners, mainly Thai farmworkers, were also freed under separate parallel deals.

In return, Israel has released 180 Palestinian security detainees, all women and teenagers.

The initial four-day truce was extended by 48 hours from Tuesday, and Israel said it would be willing to prolong it further for as long as Hamas frees 10 hostages a day.

But with fewer women and children still in captivity, that could mean agreeing to terms governing the release of at least some Israeli men for the first time.

A Palestinian official said negotiators were hammering out whether Israeli men would be released on different terms than the exchange for three Palestinian detainees each that had previously applied to the women and children.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said Israel would consider any serious proposal, though he declined to provide further details.

“We are doing everything we can in order to get those hostages out. Nothing is confirmed until it is confirmed,” Levy told reporters in Tel Aviv.

“We’re talking about very sensitive negotiations in which human lives hang in the balance,” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his earlier pledges to pursue the war to annihilate Hamas, once the ceasefire lapses.

“There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end.

“This is my policy. The entire cabinet stands behind it. The entire government stands behind it. The soldiers stand behind it. The people stand behind it. This is exactly what we will do,” he said in a statement.

Tuesday’s release also included for the first time hostages held by Islamic Jihad, a separate militant group, as well as by Hamas itself.

“The ability of Hamas to secure the release of hostages held by other factions had been an issue in earlier talks.

The truce has brought the first respite to a war launched by Israel to annihilate Hamas after the “Black Shabbat” raid by gunmen who killed 1,200 people on the Jewish rest day, according to Israel’s tally.

Israeli bombardment has since reduced much of Gaza to a wasteland, with more than 15,000 people confirmed killed, 40 percent of them children, according to Palestinian health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations.

Many more are feared buried under the ruins. The Palestinian health ministry said another 160 bodies had been pulled out of rubble during the past 24 hours of the truce, and around 6,500 people were still missing.

  • Reuters
Continue Reading

Foreign News

Israeli army says it has opened door leading to tunnel under hospital



The Israeli army says it has broken open the sealed blast door at the end of a suspected Hamas tunnel under the al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip.

The military published two pictures on social media platform X, formerly called Twitter, Tuesday evening showing the open door in a tunnel.

What exactly is behind the door remained unclear at first.

“Just through this door, underneath the Shifa Hospital, are Hamas’ terrorists tunnels.

“Here’s the PROOF of Hamas’ terrorism festering underneath hospitals,” the Israel Defense Forces said in their post on X.

However, the photographs were published without context and could not be independently verified.

The military suspects a command centre of the Islamist Hamas under the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip.

Buildings in the vicinity of the hospital were also suspected.

According to the army, a shaft uncovered a few days ago in the grounds of the embattled hospital led to a tunnel, at the end of which there was a locked “explosion-proof door” after 55 metres.

Israel says the tunnel leads to a network of Hamas tunnels and bunkers.

In spite of international criticism, Israeli soldiers have been engaging in combat operations in and around the Shifa hospital for days.

Israel accuses Hamas of misusing the hospital for “terrorist purposes.”

But Hamas denies this.

  • dpa


Continue Reading

Editor’s Pick