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NCA advises Ghanaians not to link 5G network to COVID -19

NCA advises Ghanaians not to link 5G network to COVID -19

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has asked the general public to disregard any information attributing the emergence of COVID-19 to the 5G technology network.

In a statement signed and issued from the outfit of the NCA, it said:

 

“The National Communications Authority (NCA) has taken note of recent widespread rumours and misinformation about 5G technology and its alleged link with the COVID-19 virus. The NCA wishes to state categorically that there is absolutely no link between 5G technology and COVID-19. The public is therefore advised to disregard the misleading videos and audios circulating on social media.”

 

One of the conspiracy theories of the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus suggests that since 5G suppresses the immune system, it could be blamed for the pandemic.

Others claim to suggest that the virus is using the network’s radio waves to communicate and pick victims to quicken its spread.

But these claims the NCA says must not be taken seriously because they lack a proof with no scientific basis.

Even in the absence of the 5G network, Ghana’s case count pegs at 313 with six deaths, three recovery and 31 other on home management.

The NCA has however assured the public that, radiations from mobile base stations in Ghana are safe amidst the Coronavirus fears.

 

“The general public is assured that all mobile technologies are safe. As part of its regulatory mandate, the NCA in collaboration with the relevant state institutions will continue to measure and check compliance to the safety levels of RF exposure to ensure protection of all users of communication services including 5G (when it becomes available in Ghana) and future advanced technologies. The Authority further assures the public that there is absolutely no relationship between any mobile technology and COVID-19.”

 

What is NCA doing to ensure the safety of consumers?

The NCA, as part of its consumer protection mandate, has established a Type Approval laboratory with test and measurement equipment for Radio Frequencies (RF), Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).

The laboratory undertakes measurements to ascertain the safety of mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc) and field measurements of radiations from mobile base stations at frequencies below 6GHz which is the range of frequencies for 2G, 3G and 4G in Ghana.

Future 5G deployments in Ghana will also utilize some frequencies below 6GHz as well as higher frequencies and within safe limits.

The measurements taken by the NCA indicate that the non-ionizing radiations from mobile base stations are even more stringent and safer than those set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which is the international body responsible for safe use of non-ionizing radiation.

In 2019, the NCA contracted independent private agencies to audit all base station masts or towers in Ghana for structural integrity and to assess the level of radiations from all the sites.

The audit reports confirmed that radiation levels are significantly lower than the ICNIRP reference levels.

 

Four more meningitis deaths recorded in the Upper West Region

Four more meningitis deaths recorded in the Upper West Region

Four more persons have died after they contracted Cerebrospinal Meningitis in the Upper West Region.

This raises the number over the 33 deaths that were recorded last Sunday, April 5, 2020, by the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Osei Kuffuor Affreh.

The total number of persons infected with the endemic has also increased from 214 to 247 within the past week.

A release issued by the Regional Health directorate indicated the Nadowli/Kaleo district and the Nandom municipality as the hard-hit areas.

The Nadowli District recorded 74 cases with 12 deaths while the Nandom Municipality also has 76 cases with 10 fatalities.

The Jirapa Municipality follows with 42 cases, out of which nine people have died.

Four districts including the Wa East, Sissala West, Lambusie and Dafiama-Busie-Issah, however, recorded no cases of Cerebrospinal Meningitis.

The urgency around the novel coronavirus pandemic has overshadowed the Cerebrospinal Meningitis cases in northern Ghana.

As a result, Parliament has prompted the Ministry of Health to give some attention to the growing number of cases of meningitis in the Upper West Region.

The Wa Central MP, Rashid Pelpuo, for example, called for the immediate application of known remedies to halt the rising death count.

Find below a breakdown of the cases

BELOW IS THE LIST OF CASES AND DEATHS OF MENINGITIS AS AT WEEK 13 IN ALL THE 11 MDAs IN THE UPPER WEST REGION:

NOTE: C – Case, D – Death

  • Daffiam-Busie-Issa, C-0, D-0
  • Jirapa, C-42, D-9
  • Lambussie, C-0, D-0
  • Lawra, C-8, D-1
  • Nadowli-Kaleo, C-74, D-12
  • Nandom, C-76, D-10
  • Sissala East, C-5, D-0
  • Sissala West, C-0, D-0
  • Wa East, C-0, D-0
  • Wa Municipal, C-27, D-4
  • Wa West, C-15, D-1

Total cases-247

Total deaths-37

What is Cerebrospinal Meningitis

Cerebrospinal Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges of both brain and spinal cord specifically an infectious often epidemic and fatal meningitis caused by the meningococcus also called cerebrospinal fever.

It is an air-borne disease that is most feared because it is transmittable, fatal and spreads at an extremely fast pace.

The disease has up to 50% death rate if not treated.

The COVID19 Relief fund - A catalyst for illicit financial flows in Africa

The COVID19 Relief fund - A catalyst for illicit financial flows in Africa

Illicit financial flows will unfortunately facilitate the corruption and crime accompanying the coronavirus crisis.

 The IMF is playing a leading role in mitigating the economic impacts of COVID-19 and has committed to put its $1 trillion lending capacity toward that end.

“The urgent need to support countries in their efforts during the pandemic makes transparency and accountability in government spending critically important,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International.

“The crisis requires the IMF to make funds available as quickly as possible, but it shouldn’t abandon its commitment to fighting corruption.

The scale of the crisis raises the risks and dangers of the theft of public money that should be used to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.”

Over 90 countries have already requested emergency assistance, the highest number in the IMF’s 75-year history. Unlike with the fund’s standard programs, emergency funds are generally disbursed in lump sums, with limited, if any, transparency, conditions, or reviews.

More than 90 countries have already requested emergency assistance including through the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) programs, and Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT). All three of these programs are characterized by their speed and flexibility, as well as limited transparency and conditionality.

 

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 Statement by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Nigeria

Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued the following statement on the 7th of April, 2020.

 

“Nigeria’s economy is being threatened by the twin shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated sharp fall in international oil prices.  President Buhari’s administration is taking a number of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus and its impact, including by swiftly releasing contingency funds to Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control and working on an economic stimulus package that will help provide relief for households and businesses impacted by the downturn.

 

“To support these efforts, Nigeria’s government has requested financial assistance under the Fund’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). This emergency financing would allow the government to address additional and urgent balance of payments needs and support policies that would make it possible to direct funds for priority health expenditures and protect the most vulnerable people and firms. We are working hard to respond to this request so that a proposal can be considered by the IMF’s Executive Board as soon as possible.”

 

photo news buhari receives briefing on economic impact of covid 19

President Muhammadu Buhari receiving briefing from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed at the State House, Abuja.

 

In addition, the foreign assistance associated with relieving the worst of the pandemic is ripe for misappropriation.

Nigeria, whose revenues have tumbled with the fall in oil prices, has asked for $3.4bn from the International Monetary Fund, $2.5bn from the World Bank and $1bn from the African Development Bank, said Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Zainab Ahmed.

Dramatic increases in the amounts and speed of spending, as well as distractions or breakdowns that interfere with oversight mechanisms, can allow powerful actors to take advantage of the crisis for their own benefit. Even at this early stage of the pandemic, there are dozens of media reports of corruption and other criminal activities related to COVID-19 spending.

We wish to highlight the need for the Fund to establish basic measures to ensure that the money received by countries is used in a transparent and accountable manner to reduce the risks of misuse and corruption.

Corruption’s drain on public resources always harms governments’ ability to provide adequate health care, education, and other rights, the groups said. During this crisis, it can mean the difference between life and death; adequate food or hunger; a house or homelessness.

Moreover, the IMF can systematically include basic measures to reduce the risks of mismanagement and corruption without compromising the speed and flexibility the crisis demands.

The organizations proposed four such measures:

 

  • IMF transparency.

The fund should publish all information related to programs on its website as soon as possible and signal its continued commitment to good governance in high-level public statements and private meetings with governments.

  • Transparency and Accountability in Public Procurement.

To mitigate risks such as hidden contracts, overpricing, and collusion, governments should be provided with support and commit, at a minimum, to:

(1) publish all public contracts; (2) use open and competitive bidding, and strictly limit the use of emergency non-competitive processes;

(3) publish the names and beneficial ownership information of companies awarded contracts; and

(4) empower anti-monopoly agencies, where they exist, to monitor market conditions in critical sectors to avoid collusion or overpricing.

  • Auditing by government and independent monitors.

 Governments should commit to make all information on how emergency relief funds are spent available to internal auditors and, as soon as practicable, to independent auditors. Priority should be given to critical areas such as health, public procurement, infrastructure, and social security expenditures.

  • Implementing and strengthening existing anti-corruption and anti-money laundering frameworks. 

The fund should identify and seek to strengthen gaps in such frameworks, including encouraging G20 states and major financial centers to tackle these shortcomings.

A blind trust triggered by a need to act quickly, exempts transparency on how ‘The Relief funds’ will be disbursed.

It is time to ensure that economic stimulus efforts and money for the pandemic response is insulated from corruption. Proactive efforts to stem illicit financial flows during the era of the coronavirus will save lives.

 

COVID-19 Affects Economies and Education

COVID-19 Affects Economies and Education

Billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates says he believes schools will be able to resume in the fall but the global economy won’t magically return to the way it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

Governments around the world have ordered people to stay home, initiating either a total or partial lockdown.

 

“I do think schools will be able to resume in the fall,” Gates said in an interview with CBNC on Thursday, April 9, 2020. “But I don’t think this school year there’s going to be any significant attendance. You know, maybe in the summer, people will do something special. But that would be very hard to do.”

 

Some schools all over the world have made it possible for students to take classes remotely over the internet, but the Microsoft co-founder stated that many students don’t have the computers or access to internet connections necessary for remote learning.

 

“Most of the private schools, they’re used to online, they’ve made sure all their students have the device and the connectivity,” he said. “Different school districts have decided some don’t do online learning because it would be unjust in terms of the kids who don’t have access. And so that’s really a dilemma. There are philanthropists, Ray Dalio, Jeff Bezos, and many others, who are trying to fill that gap, you know, get some devices and connectivity out there.”

 

Gates said before a vaccine is available, countries that have had considerable epidemics must figure out which activities should come back.

He suggested that people could probably return to manufacturing and construction, and hopefully education.

 

“I don’t think going to big, say, public sports-type events, that the economic benefit relative to the risks, that will work out until we’re back in normal times,” he stipulated.

 

He made reference to businesses in China coming back to life and activities beginning to return in South Korea. 

 

Economies to take time to heal

Bill Gates believes that the economy would not magically revert to the way it was before the pandemic, even once governments around the world, decide it’s safe to go back to work.

 

“The behavior of people in terms of wanting to travel or go to events or even go to a restaurant, it’s been utterly changed by the concerns about this disease,” he said.

“No one should think the government can wave a wand and all of a sudden the economy is anything like it was before this happened. That awaits either a miracle therapeutic that has an over 95% cure rate or broad usage of the vaccine.”

Development of Ghana's Power Sector to Slow Down Due to COVID-19 – Fitch

Development of Ghana's Power Sector to Slow Down Due to COVID-19 – Fitch

The power sectors of many economies in Sub-Saharan African countries including Ghana are at risk of a slowdown in expansion following the COVID-19 global pandemic, says the international ratings agency, Fitch.

This is due to the global slowdown in economic activities, leading to lower export revenues in the region as well as weakening local currencies.

 

According to Fitch, “As economic growth in the region slows or even contracts, this will negatively impact on the scope for investment in new power projects, and holds the risk of stalling governments' drive to increase electrification rates.”

The agency said "the simultaneous collapse in oil prices, resulting from both the global economic slowdown as well as the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, will exacerbate this effect in markets reliant on oil exports for revenues, especially as our Oil & Gas team expects little chance of an agreement being reached between Saudi Arabia and Russia".

 

How bad will this affect economies in Sub-Saharan Africa?

It is also expected that non-hydropower renewable projects across the region will face an increased risk of delays, as they rely heavily on imported components whose supply chains have slowed down or even stopped completely.

However, depending on how long the pandemic lasts, and on the further global response to it, the short turnaround times associated with non-hydropower renewable projects will likely result in shorter delays than other generation types.

South Africa and Nigeria More susceptible 

 

“We highlight that South Africa and Nigeria are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental economic effects of COVID-19, creating a more pronounced risk for their power sectors and plans for expansion.”

 

South Africa

After an extended period of slow economic growth in South Africa, our Country Risk team now forecasts the economy to contract by 1.3% over the course of 2020 owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. With the subsequent 21-day lockdown put in place by the government, electricity consumption has also dropped to the point where state-owned utility, Eskom, has had to stop procurement of electricity from wind power Independent Power Producers, IPPs, as the system has excess capacity.

Nigeria

With inefficient infrastructure and regular power cuts, Nigeria’s power sector had already been struggling prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, now with a global economic slowdown as well as a marked decline in oil prices (highlighted in the chart below), we expect that the Nigerian government will have significantly less fiscal room to manoeuvre given the economy’s high reliance on oil exports for revenue. This will potentially make it harder to finance new projects and may draw public infrastructure funding away to other measures such as healthcare instead.

Difficult Times Ahead For Cocoa Farmers

Difficult Times Ahead For Cocoa Farmers

 Director of Business Operations at Dalex Finance, Joe Jackson

The Director of Business Operations at Dalex Finance, Joe Jackson, has called on relevant authorities to put measures in place to assist the average farmer who is likely to be affected the most due to the pandemic.

According to him, Ghana COCOBOD is jutting a loss of about a billion-dollar due to the spread of the virus. He stated that the economic impact of COVID-19 on agriculture and agribusiness, particularly the cocoa subsector, could hit farmers hard.

A loan package of about 1.3 billion dollars was signed by Ghana for the 2019/2020 cocoa crop production season.

However, Mr. Jackson believes cocoa farmers could face difficult times if drastic measures are not put in place to support them to ease their operations.

 

“It is easy to talk about this in abstract terms. The CEO of COCOBOD has estimated that, we have lost 1 billion dollars not cedis, and the cocoa syndication loan is on hold. We are unable to syndicate. What’s happening to our cocoa farmers, where is the money to buy cocoa? What’s going to happen to our by-day labourers who are in the rural areas? You know, it’s easy for me to sit in Accra, sit behind my turbo net and talk to you over the line. There is some real person in a village in the Eastern Region who is a migrant labourer, who doesn’t know if they don’t buy the cocoa, he won’t get paid.”

 

Previous loan agreements

Ghana Cocoa Board signed a 1.3-billion-dollar syndicated loan last year to cater for the production of cocoa for the 2019/2020 crop season.

The loan would be drawn down in three tranches. First would be 50 per cent of the $1.3 billion, which would translate to about $650 million with an additional $450 million to be made in November.

Already, Ghana Cocoa Board has signed a new 3-year receivables-backed trade finance facility of US$300m to refinance Cocoa Bills raised by Bank of Ghana on behalf of Cocobod and to finance production improvement programmes.

Again, Cocobod received a US$600 million syndicatedloan facility from the African Development Bank, and Credit Suisse Group AG, to finance key mechanisms of the organisation’s productivity improvement programmes.

Reduction in global cocoa prices

Ghana’s cocoa industry is a key contributor to Government Revenue and GDP.  It employs approximately 800,000 farm families which spread over six regions in Ghana. Cocoa also generates about $2 billion in foreign exchange annually.

However, due to the overwhelming effects of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, the cocoa industry could suffer in the coming days as the pandemic declines cocoa prices on the world market.

According to the International Cocoa Organisations (ICCO), global cocoa prices have dropped to USD 2218.47 per tonne as at April 3, 2020.

This has so far caused Ghana and the cocoa sector a loss of about $1 billion, according to the CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahene Aidoo.

 

Covid-19 App Tracker To Be Launched To Trace Coronavirus Carriers

Covid-19 App Tracker To Be Launched To Trace Coronavirus Carriers

The government in collaboration with a group of technology experts have announced the launch of a computer/mobile program or software application scheduled for Monday, April 13, 2020 to trace coronavirus carriers or contacts.

As part of efforts to combat the fast spreading of the global pandemic, novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the app was developed to enable quick access to contacts of coronavirus carriers to prevent spread knowingly or unknowingly by putting them in quarantine.

Enhanced contact tracing and testing which is ongoing in Ghana has helped greatly in reaching infected persons in time and this app will contribute immensely in making access faster though the possibility of having increased number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is high.

A total of 1,030 travelers who were quarantined mandatorily upon arrival between 21-22 March 2020 have been released.

However, out of these, 79 (7.7%) were positive during the initial testing while 951 were negative. Twenty-six (26) among those that were initially negative were later confirmed to have converted to be positive at the exit screening, bringing it to a total of 105 which constitutes 10.2% among the travelers who were quarantined.

Due to enhanced contact tracing and testing, a total of 11,016 samples from contacts of coronavirus carriers as at 7th April 2020, had been processed and 37 (0.34%) had been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

The app which aims at being user friendly and a free to download mobile software application will be available for Android and iOS devices after its launch on Monday. It is intended to assist efficiently in tracing contacts which will augment the state’s efforts in the fight against the global pandemic.

According to the experts, the software will trace anyone who has had contact with anybody carrying the COVID -19 virus.

The experts at the launch, will also train people to find their way around the App and give an insight of who can use the App.

The Covid-19 App tracker is an easy to use digital tool that is designed to help people self-report their systems and assess their health symptoms for Covid-19 risk.

The app will be available for iOS, android and USSD *769# users which will ensure universal accessibility.

The success of this app is highly reliant on getting the masses conscious of and the use of the app.

This suggests that a mass media campaign is needed to create the right awareness and get Ghanaians to use the app.

A total of 313 cases of COVID-19 with six (6) deaths have been recorded in Ghana as at 7th April 2020, 23:30 hr.

The regional distribution of the cases are as follows: Greater Accra Region has most cases (274) followed by the Ashanti Region (25), Northern Region (10), Upper West Region (1), Eastern Region (1), Upper East Region (1) and Central Region (1).

A total of 161 cases were reported from the routine surveillance, 37 from enhanced surveillance activities and those from travelers under mandatory quarantine in both Accra and Tamale are 115.

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