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Kenya coach sweats over player fitness ahead of Cup final

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By GEOFFREY ANENE
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Kenya’s head coach, Paul Odera, is hopeful his key players Dominic Coulson and Jeff Mutuku will recover in time for Sunday’s final of Africa Under-20 tournament against champions Namibia.

The final will be played at KCB Sports Club in Nairobi. An unattached Coulson put up a man-of-the-match performance in Kenya’s 73-0 demolition of Tunisia in the semi-finals of the Pool ‘A’ tournament on Thursday, making nine successful conversions out of the 11 tries the hosts scored and suffered a thigh injury.

Mutuku, who is the most experienced Kenyan player in the tournament, having played for the team since the 2016 edition, missed the match with a hamstring injury.

“Coulson played very well against Tunisia. He got a thigh injury but his injury is not that bad. Mutuku suffered a hamstring injury at his club (Kenya Harlequin) in March. It will be a big blow for us if they miss the match because they are very important players for us. They will be assessed later today, but they should be ready to face Namibia,” Odera said on Friday.

The team rested yesterday after that big victory. “The boys had some team-building exercises at the Karen Waterfront, including swimming. We will again watch videos of our matches later today in our team camp,” Odera added.

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Odera believes it is Kenya’s chance to win the tournament, dubbed ‘Barthes Trophy,’ to guarantee his team a chance of competing in 2019 Junior World Rugby Trophy.

Odera has acknowledged that Namibia is a strong team with experienced and speedy players, but Odera insists his players will take their chances.

“They (Namibia) don’t look as good as they were when they beat us (66-24) in Madagascar two years ago.”

Namibia’s drop in form and Kenya’s home advantage has given Odera more hope of winning the tournament on home soil.



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International community supports Kenya in fight against Covid-19 – Nairobi News

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs headed by Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and CAS Ababu Namwamba has been mobilizing international support for Kenya’s national anti-Covid-19.

When the National Emergency Response Committee was formed, each Ministry was given a responsibility to play in the fight against Covid-19.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Standing Committee on Emergency Response (SCER) chaired by CAS Ababu has been receiving massive support from the international communities.

So far, they have received support from IGAD, China and UAE, and commitments from Japan, South Korea, and India. Australia Austria.

Other countries like Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America have also made pledges, and the Ministry has been making follow-ups.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) on Tuesday donated Sh10 million to the Kenyan Government towards the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

CONTRIBUTIONS

The contribution should be allocated to the most pressing and critical needs of the vulnerable communities in the member Country and purchase medical equipment.

The Chinese government has donated 2 tons of medical supplies, including masks, protective suits, goggles, non-contact forehead infrared thermometers, gloves & shoe covers.

The consignment that was received on April 1, 2020, also included Assorted Covid-19 rapid testing kits 100,000 pcs, Sample collection kits 100,000 pcs, and Testing kits 50,000 pcs, among other things.

The Kits are being validated at Kenya Medical Research Institute KEMRI.

The Ministry has also received the first donation from Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation.

The first consignment which was received on March 24 had 20,000 Testing Kits, 100,000 Masks 1,000 Protective Suits, and face shields.

However, the testing kits received from Jack Ma Foundation could not be used as they were not stored in solid ice.

PLEDGES 

The second consignment from Jack Ma, which was announced on April 6, 2020, includes Ventilators, Protective Suits & face shields, Thermometers, Swab, and extraction kits.

The exact numbers will be known when the donation arrives in the country.

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Hua Jian Group, based in China, has given the government of Kenya 500 disposable Protective Suits,500 disposable isolation gowns, 3000 N-95 respirator, 3,000 surgical face masks, 40 non-contact forehead infrared thermometers and 60,000 normal face masks.

Southern china cargo airline is expected to deliver the consignment in the country between April 9 and 10.

Hecin Scientific Inc has shared 8,000 testing kits and 1,500 testing kits.

Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan Institute of Virology has donated 100 RT-PCR test kits (5,000) 500 Ig/G/IgM antibody test kits (1,000),

The RT-PCR kit has been accredited by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and has obtained the European CE marking (Ref. IVD001118).

EQUIPMENT

Administrative Committee of Changsha National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone has given 10,000 disposable masks and 10,000 disposable mask. The donation will be shared equally by the Ministry of Health and Kenya Medical Supplies Authority(KEMSA).

Department of Commerce Provincial Government of Hunan gives Kenyan government 500 rapid testing kits, 1,000 isolation gowns, 1,000 surgical gowns, 200 infrared electric thermometers, 10,000 disposal and surgical masks.

Dongguan Ruikang Medical Equipment Technology Co., Ltd has given 20,000 disposable masks, Japan negative pressure ambulances and negative pressure capsules.

All the above pledges have been taken to the Kenyan Embassy in Beijing.

Government of the Republic of Korea has donated 2 Ambulances, 100,000 Personal Protection Equipment, 20,000 laboratory test kits, 20,000 laboratory sample collection kits, 1,000 ICU beds, ventilators, monitors, accessories, 5,0000 assorted pharmaceuticals and non-pharmaceuticals.

The Koreans have also donated 50 negative pressure ambulances, 14 negative pressure capsules, 20,000 N95 masks, laboratory equipment, infection prevention control materials (sanitizers, disinfectants, soap, chlorine) and 10 incinerators.

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US judge rejects transfers, release from virus-hit Chicago jail

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AFP

By AFP
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A Chicago judge on Thursday rejected a bid by inmates to be released or transferred from a jail housing 4,500 detainees which has emerged as one of the largest coronavirus clusters in the US.

Cook County Jail in the US’s third-largest city has 276 inmates who have tested positive for Covid-19, along with 172 staff members of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the facility.

However, the jail acknowledged those numbers are likely an undercount, as the majority of its inmates have not been tested.

The jail has seen one prisoner death so far from complications of the virus, but lawyers had filed a petition before a federal court for mass transfers.

In a 37-page ruling handed down on Thursday, District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to implement new policies to keep inmates safe but rejected the call for them to be moved en masse.

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Kennelly acknowledged the sheriff’s challenge, calling it “an extraordinary difficult task,” but ordered soap and sanitizer provided to inmates and staff, and facemasks for inmates in quarantine with Covid-19 symptoms.

The judge noted the infection rate in Cook County was 1.56 per 1,000 people. In the jail, as of Monday, it was 50 per 1,000 people, he wrote.

The lawsuit, filed April 3, sought a mass release or transfer of elderly and medically compromised inmates.

Dart has said his office has already taken steps to protect inmates and staff, while also releasing several hundred inmates charged with or convicted of non-violent crimes.

Dart said his dilemma is that 70 percent of inmates have either been convicted or are accused of violent crimes.

Jeffery Pendleton, 59, who was being held on drug and weapons charges, appears to have died from complications of COVID-19, Dart has said.

Pendleton, who had 15 previous convictions, including as a sex offender, was jailed because he could not come up with $5,000 — or ten percent of the $50,000 bond set by a judge.

The Cook County Public Defender’s Office filed an emergency motion for Pendleton’s release on March 26 but was denied, four days before he was hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.

“He was and always will be presumed innocent. He died awaiting for his day in court. He should have been sent home,” tweeted Amy Campanelli, an attorney at the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a group that advocates for the elimination of the cash bond system.

Along with releasing more inmates, Dart said on his website that he had taken steps to protect them. Measures included early screening and testing of detainees, and increasing availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation supplies.

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“Detainees who test positive are isolated and receive thorough medical attention and cellmates are quarantined and monitored,” he said.

Dart also banned inmates’ families from visiting and requires attorneys and clergy members to be screened for virus symptoms.

Incoming inmates are housed in tiers where staff observe for symptoms for seven days before they are transferred to the general population. Cleaning has also increased through the jail and inmates are being educated about preventative hygiene.

Yet, those actions, along with creating an 500-bed quarantine facility and moving inmates from double cells to single cells to increase social distancing, did not stop the spread of the virus — nor has it satisfied staff who feel slighted by the focus on inmate safety.

“We have 150 staff members who have tested positive for the virus and everyone is saying we should release all the inmates. They get released, yet we have to stay,” said one sheriff’s deputy who has worked in the jail for nine years and spoke on condition of anonymity.

As for the inmates, he said only 60 have been moved to the 500-bed quarantine facility. Another worker at the jail confirmed that figure.

The sheriff’s deputy added that jail staff did not receive protective gear for two weeks after the first cases were identified at the facility and fears he might bring it home to his wife and children.

“Bringing the virus home is my biggest fear. I have nowhere to isolate away from my family unless I sleep in my car.”

The Cook County Sheriff’s spokesman denied that staff have not been provided with sanitation supplies or protective equipment, adding that front-line workers can get tested onsite.

“We are very concerned about the health and safety of our staff,” he said in a statement to AFP. “To say they don’t have supplies and don’t have an avenue to get them is completely false.”

“We remain in daily contact with the unions that represent staff members, and will continue to work with them to protect our employees and fulfill our obligation to provide a safe, secure jail.”

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In Jerusalem, Christians mark a sombre Easter

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AFP

By AFP
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Eggs on the table and a toy rabbit on the dresser — with a few decorations, Palestinian Christian Sawsan Bitar attempts to salvage some normality from an Easter overshadowed by coronavirus.

In the Christian quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City that Bitar calls home, roads are deserted and most shops have been closed for two weeks.

All cultural sites in the Holy Land are shuttered, regardless of their religious affiliation, as authorities seek to forestall the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.

Christians will be prevented from congregating for the Easter service, whether this coming Sunday — as in the case of Bitar and fellow Catholic worshippers — or a week later on April 19, in line with the Orthodox Easter.

Despite wars and uprisings, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected, has not been closed over Easter for at least a century, according to Palestinian historian Johnny Mansour.

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Bitar, who is in her sixties, says it is “depressing” that she will not be able to celebrate Easter in church.

Israel — which in 1967 occupied east Jerusalem and later annexed it — has confirmed over 9,700 coronavirus infections, with 79 dead from the respiratory disease.

On the Palestinian side, more than 250 cases have been confirmed, with one death.

Jerusalem is usually the vibrant heart of global Easter celebrations.

Last year, more than 25,000 people gathered near the Holy Sepulchre to attend Palm Sunday mass, which marks the start of the Easter week.

This year, the cobbled streets of the Christian quarter were silent and its dozens of churches were empty for Palm Sunday on April 5.

A lookalike of Jesus, with long hair, a white tunic and bare feet, praying with his bible on the steps of the church of the Sepulchre, cut a lonely figure.

Behind the heavy wooden doors of this holiest of Christian places, there were only 15 members of the clergy in attendance, said Ibrahim Shomali, spokesman for the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

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“But despite the difficult circumstances, there can be positives,” Shomali told AFP.

Streaming the mass direct online, 60,000 people watched, he said.

This Sunday, Easter mass will be broadcast on television and on social networks.

Only six monks will be present in the church, Shomali said.

Watching the mass online will be the only way Francis Gharfah will celebrate Easter this year.

A Palestinian from east Jerusalem, he left his usual decorations in their boxes and chose not to prepare traditional pastries.

“The situation is dramatic,” he told AFP, saying he fears for his job at an NGO due to the virus.

He was “very touched” by the images of Pope Francis celebrating Palm Sunday in an empty Saint Peter’s Basilica, accompanied only by a few religious men and women — each of them perched on separate benches.

“People are thirsty for spirituality,” said Shomali, who finds great solace in a “return of faith” in this dark time.

Bitar attempts to remain upbeat.

“Everything happens for a reason. I hope that we will be different people, that we will appreciate things differently” once the coronavirus crisis ends.

To mark this Easter, Bitar laid out a cloth printed with small yellow chicks and multi-coloured eggs at the entrance to her home.

Her family has created an improvised photo studio, her daughter and grandchildren squeezing into pictures surrounded by a rabbit and flowers.

But all the photos in the world will not be the same as attending church for Easter.

“We live five minutes from the Holy Sepulchre and we cannot go there,” she said sadly.

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