South African police have charged two men with attempted murder for allegedly continuing to go out after they tested positive for the coronavirus, exposing others to the infection.
Police minister Bheki Cele announced the charges on Wednesday during a press conference detailing the enforcement of an incoming lockdown meant to curb the spread of coronavirus.
“If you break these laws of regulations you are six months in, or fined, or both,” said Cele.
“Two people have been charged already… who deliberately moved around after they were told” not to, he warned.
“So it’s not a fairytale to say the law will act and act very harsh on you.”
The first case was a 52-year old salon owner diagnosed with coronavirus on March 18 and instructed to quarantine for at least 14 days.
Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said local officials raised the alert on Tuesday after the man was seen around the western city of Ladysmith, in KwaZulu-Natal province.
“(He) allegedly continued with his business… and in doing so disregarded the instructions by a doctor,” Naidoo said, adding that the man had since been arrested and taken to hospital.
The second charge was filed against a male tourist who tested positive for COVID-19 while on holiday at Kruger National Park.
Naidoo said the man ignored instructions to remain in his hotel and went to the nearby town of Saint Lucia, where he interacted “with an unknown number of people”.
South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections on the continent, with 709 cases confirmed so far.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown after the number of infections multiplied six-fold in just eight days.
Only “essential” trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and medical appointments will be permitted during the lockdown, which will be enforced by army troops.
“The simplest and best way to combat the spread of the coronavirus is STAY HOME,” the police said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It is exactly that stubborn behaviour that has caused us a national lockdown.”
Obasanjo donates former residence as isolation centre
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has offered his former residence at the Presidential Hilltop, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to be used as an isolation centre for victims of the ongoing coronavirus disease.
An aide said Mr Obasanjo made the offer on Friday, and has since handed over the 32-room facility to the Ogun government for immediate use. Ogun State has recorded three cases of the coronavirus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). A total of 70 cases have been recorded in Nigeria as at 8:00 p.m. Nigerian times.
Mr Obasanjo’s special assistant media, Kehinde Akinyemi, who confirmed the development said the former president was concerned about the pandemic. “And I think those who can in one way or another assist in this situation should do so,” Mr Obasanjo was quoted as having said.
The facility located off the Presidential Boulevard, Oke Sari, Abeokuta has each of the 32 rooms ensuite, with a standby generator
Coronavirus: Google commits $800 million to support small businesses, health workers, others
The CEO of Google and Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, has announced a new $800 million commitment to support small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organisations and governments, and health workers “on the frontline of coronavirus”.
Mr Pichai made this known in a statement published on Google’s blog on Friday.
According to him, the commitment is necessitated as the coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen around the world.
He said the pandemic is taking a devastating toll on lives and communities.
The Google boss said the commitment includes, “$250 million in ad grants to help the World Health Organisation (WHO) and more than 100 government agencies globally provide critical information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other measures to help local communities.
“This is an increase from our initial $25 million announced last month. In addition, we’re providing $20 million in ad grants to community financial institutions and NGOs specifically to run public service announcements on relief funds and other resources for SMBs.
“A $200 million investment fund that will support NGOs and financial institutions around the world to help provide small businesses with access to capital.
“As one example, we’re working with the Opportunity Finance Network in the U.S. to help fill gaps in financing for people and communities underserved by mainstream financial institutions. This is in addition to the $15 million in cash grants Google.org is already providing to nonprofits to help bridge these gaps for SMBs,” he added.
Mr Pichai also said that “$340 million in Google Ads credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. Credit notifications will appear in their Google Ads accounts and can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across our advertising platforms. We hope it will help to alleviate some of the cost of staying in touch with their customers.
“A pool of $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to leverage our computing capabilities and infrastructure as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19. Learn how to apply for credits on the Google for Education site.
“Direct financial support and expertise to help increase the production capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE) and lifesaving medical devices. We’re working with our longtime supplier and partner Magid Glove & Safety, with the goal of ramping up production of 2-3 million face masks in the coming weeks that will be provided to the CDC Foundation.
“Additionally, employees from across Alphabet, including Google, Verily and X, are bringing engineering, supply chain and healthcare expertise to facilitate increased production of ventilators, working with equipment manufacturers, distributors and the government in this effort.”
In addition to these commitments, the CEO increased the gift match Google offers every employee annually to $10,000 from $7,500
IG orders investigation into destruction of beer bottles by police officers
The Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Adamu, has directed the police in Lagos to immediately investigate some police officers captured in a video destroying beer bottles at a drinking spot.
The one-minute video, which has been trending on Twitter since Thursday, showed uniformed police officers kicking and pulling down stacks of crates, and breaking several beer bottles.
The incident reportedly happened in Lagos, and the officers were apparently enforcing the restriction order in the state occasioned by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Nigerians have been expressing outrage over the action of the officers.
A tweet from the police Twitter handle (@PoliceNG) on Friday said the police chief “condemned the apparent unprofessionalism and highhandedness exhibited by the Police officers”.
Mr Adamu is said to have directed the commissioner of police in Lagos State “to immediately investigate and commence disciplinary actions against the officers involved”.
The police chief said officers involved in enforcement of restriction orders and other law enforcement functions “must exercise discretionary powers with the utmost sense of professionalism, compassion and respect for the citizens.”
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