North Korea fighting Covid with tea and salt water

North Korea is grappling with the spread of Covid in an unvaccinated population, without access to effective anti-viral drugs.

In early 2020, the country sealed its borders to try to insulate itself from the pandemic.

Its leadership has so far rejected outside medical support.

And state media has recommended traditional treatments to deal with what is referred to as “fever”.

Hot drinks

For those not seriously ill, ruling-party newspaper Rodong Simnun recommended remedies including ginger or honeysuckle tea and a willow-leaf drink.

Hot drinks might soothe some Covid symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough, and help hydration when patients are losing more fluid than normal.

Ginger and willow leaf also relieve inflammation and reduce pain.

But they are not a treatment for the virus itself.

Salt water

State media recently interviewed a couple who recommended gargling with salt water morning and night.

A “thousand of tonnes of salt” had been sent to Pyongyang to make an “antiseptic solution”, the state news agency reported.

Some studies suggest gargling and nasal rinses with salt water combat viruses that cause the common cold.

But there is little evidence they slow the spread of Covid.

Mouthwash could kill the virus in the lab, a study found.

But it has not convincingly been shown to help in humans.

Covid is mainly caught by inhaling tiny droplets in the air via the nose as well as the mouth, so gargling attacks only one point of entry.

And once the virus has entered, it replicates and spreads deep into the organs, where no amount of gargling can reach.

Painkillers and antibiotics

State television has advised patients to use painkillers such as ibuprofen as well as amoxicillin and other antibiotics.

Ibuprofen (and paracetamol) can bring down a temperature and ease symptoms such as headache or sore throat.

But they will not clear the virus or prevent it developing.

Antibiotics, meant for bacterial infections not viruses, are not recommended.

And using antibiotics unnecessarily risks developing resistant bugs.

Laboratory research suggests some may slow the spread of some viruses, including Covid.

But these have not been replicated in the real world.

And a study of the antibiotic azithromycin found it made little or no difference to Covid symptoms, the likelihood of hospital admission or death.

There are some approved drugs to prevent people with Covid ending up in hospital:

  • antivirals paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir
  • antibody therapies that mimic the immune system

But their effectiveness is variable.

Health system

North Korea’s health system has been set up to offer free medical care from basic services at village level up to specialised treatment in government hospitals (usually in urban centres).

But the economy has contracted in recent years because of sanctions and extreme weather such as droughts.

Closing the country’s borders and strict lockdown measures will also have had a damaging impact.

Particularly weak outside Pyongyang, the health system is thought to suffer shortages of personnel, medicines and equipment.

A report for the UN, last year, said: “Some of the pharmaceutical, vaccination and medical-appliance plants do not reach the level of good practice of the WHO [World Health Organization] and do not meet local demand as well.”

Many North Korean defectors to South Korea have told of having to pay for medication or finding treatment and drugs limited to privileged members of the ruling party.

But state media says it is now increasing production.

International aid

North Korea turned down three million Chinese-made doses, last year – and reportedly rejected other offers – under Covax, the global vaccine-sharing scheme.

South Korea says it has had no reply to its offer of vaccines, medical supplies and personnel.

North Korea has reportedly recently sent three planes to collect medical supplies from Shenyang.

These had not included “anti-pandemic supplies”, the Chinese foreign ministry said, but it was “ready to work with North Korea… in the fight against the coronavirus”.

Source: BBC

You can be sentenced six months for keeping tigers as pets – Vet Service boss

The Western Region Director of the Veterinary Service Department, Dr. Simon Gbene, has stated that one can be jailed for six months for keeping wild animals like tigers as pets.

Mr. Simon Gbene, who was speaking in an interview with Nhyiraba Paa Kwesi Simpson on Connect FM’s Omanbapa morning show, indicated that it is against the laws of Ghana to keep such wild animals without permit.

According to him, anyone found culpable can be fined or jailed for six months or both.

“Tigers are wild animals and it is very dangerous to keep them as pets. They are capable of killing human beings. Anyone who wants to keep them must secure the needed permit, the person should have the needed training to keep them from causing harm to other persons. It is stated black and white in the laws that anyone who is found keeping tigers and other wild animals without permits can be fined or jailed for six months,” he disclosed.

He adds that people who keep such wild animals must be reported to the police for an arrest to be effected.

“If you are living in a community and you see a neighbour keeping tigers or any other wild animals like snakes, lions etc. in their homes, immediately report them to the police. I will never advise anyone to keep tigers as pets because when they grow, they can be dangerous to even the owner,” he stated.

He says tigers can infect human beings with rabies and other diseases.

“Tigers can also transmit rabies to humans so it is not advisable to keep them at homes.”

His comments follow a move by well-known businessman Freedom Jacob Ceaser to keep seven-month-old wild cats in his home.

He has explained that his decision is to boost the tourism potentials of the country but many Ghanaians seem unhappy about it.

In the meantime, Western Region Director of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission Enock Ashie Amasa indicates that an official statement will be released to spell out the next action of the division.

He says there is a general wildlife regulation on how to keep wild animals domestically.

The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors on Friday May 20 approved a $1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis.

With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.

African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies. The African Development Bank’s $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall.

The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds. It will increase access to agricultural fertilizers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food. This would be a $12 billion increase in food production in just two years.

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food…”

The African Emergency Food Production Facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertilizer producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers earlier this month.

The ministers agreed to implement reforms to address the systemic hurdles that prevent modern input markets from performing effectively.

The price of wheat has soared in Africa by over 45% since the war in Ukraine began. Fertilizer prices have gone up by 300%, and the continent faces a fertilizer shortage of 2 million metric tons. Many African countries have already seen price hikes in bread and other food items. If this deficit is not made up, food production in Africa will decline by at least 20% and the continent could lose over $11 billion in food production value.

The African Development Bank’s $1.5 billion strategy will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans.

The African Emergency Food Production Facility will provide 20 million farmers with certified seeds, fertilizer, and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.

The African Development Bank will provide fertilizer to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, using its convening influence with major fertilizer manufacturers, loan guarantees, and other financial instruments.

The Facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms to solve the structural issues that impede farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.

The Facility has a structure for working with multilateral development partners. This will ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact. It will increase technical preparedness and responsiveness. In addition, it includes short, medium, and long-term measures to address both the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of Africa’s food systems.

Dr. Beth Dunford, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, said: “The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Response to Covid-19 program. That program has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.”

Over the past three years, the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative has delivered heat-tolerant wheat varieties to 1.8 million farmers in seven countries, increasing wheat production by 2.7 million metric tons, worth $840 million.

Long-term sustainability to wean Africa off wheat and other food imports

A five-year ramp-up phase will follow the two-year African Emergency Food Production Facility. This will build on previous gains and strengthen self-sufficiency in wheat, maize, and other staple crops, as well as expand access to agricultural fertilizers.

The five-year phase will deliver seeds and inputs to 40 million farmers under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program.

In April, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Adesina to a select Steering Committee of the Global Crisis Response Group.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations recently invited Adesina to make a presentation about the African Emergency Food Production Facility.

Address emerging food crisis situation in Ghana – Gov’t told

The Government of Ghana has been told to immediately institute measures to forestall food crisis from occurring in the country.

Private legal practitioner, Mr Kwame Jantuah said it is unthinkable that Ghana is experiencing high prices of tomatoes whereas the produce can be cultivated in the country in large supplies and sold at less cost to feed the population.

He explained that the political challenges in Burkina Faso is affecting the supply of tomatoes to Ghana, hence leading to shortage of the commodities.

This, in his view, would not be happening if Ghana were to be producing tomatoes on a large scale.

Speaking on the New Day show on TV3 with Berla Mundi on Friday May 20, he said “we are sitting by water but we are using spit to wash our face. Why are we having problems with tomatoes in this country the mian ingredeint of food? Because of the challenges in Burkina Faso. We have land and we are not growing.

“We are going into food crisis and nobody is saying Ghanaians, is high time you started growing food in your onw homes. Because of the challenges in Burkina Faso the prices of tomatoes had gone up, how can we be sitting by water and be using spit to wash our face? wouldn’t it be nice of the Agriculture Minister came and said look the way we are going, in the next couple of years it is going to be very challenging , we are bringing in a policy for everybody to have a small garden in their homes.”

On the issue of food shortage, the General Secretary of the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, last week told Ghanaians to prepare for hunger this year if immediate steps are not taken by the government to invest in the agriculture sector of the economy.

In his view, there is a deliberate attempt to reduce agriculture output in Ghana due to the low investments in the sector.

Contributing to a discussion on the impact of the ongoing geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine on food supply in Ghana, Mr Kareweh said on TV3’s New day show with Johnnie Hughes on Monday May 16 that “As we speak, the food you are eating was not produced in 2022. There will be hunger, already there is hunger and the hunger will be more because I don’t foresee government getting money to support farmers to produce.”

He added “there is deliberate policy to reduce out put. When you refuse to invest what are you doing?”

He further said that Ghana does not have enough food available to feed the people for even one month without importing more food commodities.

The reality is that a lot of food items are imported into the country therefore, when upheavals and other economic challenges occur in those countries, automatically they become Ghana’s issues, Mr Kareweh added.

“The realty is that we do not have enough food in this country. The reality is that we import so much into this country. So if there is a problem in those country you import those problems,” he said.

Tolon SHS shut down following fire

Authorities at Tolon Senior High School have temporarily closed down the school following a fire outbreak earlier Thursday, May 19.

The fire razed down the entire girls’ dormitory block.

According to the headmaster of the school, Amadu Issifu, the decision to close down the school is to allow them put together a temporary accommodation for affected students.

The fire is said to have started around 9:00am Thursday.

The first floor of the girls dormitory was completely ravaged by fire.

It took the intervention of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in the Tolon District to bring the fire under control.

Though the cause of fire is yet to be established, preliminary investigations by officials of the Fire Service revealed it could be an electrical fault.

Chop boxes, school uniforms and other valuables of the students were destroyed with the girls left traumatized.

Some of them expressed their frustrations.

The school shutdown will be for one week.

Meanwhile, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Tolon, Fuseini Salifu Issifu said the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) will have to intervene to give some support to the students.

Three Ghanaians writes to Canadian High Commission about Serwaa Broni

Three Ghanaian citizens, Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese, Elikem Kotoko and Stephen Kwabena Attuh have today sent a request to the Canadian High Commission asking for copies of reports of any possible investigations carried by the Commission on the alleged robbery attack on one Miss Evelyn Aidoo alias Serwaa Broni who on several occasions stated that she is a citizen of Canada.

According to the three, their request is hinged on the need to pursue an impeachment petition against President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo which was submitted to Parliament on the 21st of April, 2022.

According to them, any such reports in the possession of the Canadian High Commission, would provide additional materials that would support their petition taking cognisance of the fact that the matter brought before the police under the investigations of Mrs. Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah who was then the Head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service was allegedly swept under the carpet.

The Three, earlier submitted a petition to the Speaker of Parliament demanding an inquiry into allegations by the said Evelyn Aidoo to the effect that the National Security under the operations of Mr. Hopeson Adorye who was then the Deputy National Security Coordinator in charge of the Airport staged an armed robbery attack on her with the tacit approval of the President who functions as Chairman of the National Security Council, to retrieve alleged nude pictures of the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from her phone and other electronic gadgets.

The request notes that the Canadian High Commission could not be drawn into meddling in the internal security matters and politics of Ghana.

They however note that they are informed by the obligations of the High Commission to its citizen, Evelyn Aidoo (Serwaa Broni). The statement says “We are minded by your obligations as a Mission representing your country, Canada, as per International Law. We are therefore not inviting you to meddle in the internal security matters and politics of Ghana, but to strictly execute your mandate within the remits of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and Vienna Convention of Consular Relations of 1963”.

It is the position of the Three Citizens that any relevant reports that may have been compiled by the High Commission on the reported attacks on Miss Serwaa Broni would serve the people of Ghana a better interest as well as aid Parliament in its inquiry in relation to the petition pending before Parliament.

REGSEC denies ritual murder linked to Oti Boateng’s burial

The Eastern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) has denied reports of ritual murder in the capital, Koforidua, videos of which have been widely circulated on social media.

REGSEC states that the “false” video must be treated with the contempt it deserves as it never happened in the regional capital nor any district.

But an audio accompanying the video links it with the final burial rites held for the late Paramount Chief of the New Juaben Traditional Area, Daasebre Oti Boateng and his Queenmother, Nana Yaa Daani.

There was announcement following the rites that residents stayed indoors on Monday, May 16.

REGSEC clarified in a statement issued by Regional Minister Seth Kwame Acheampong, who is the Chairman of the Council, that “the announcement made by the New Juaben Traditional Authority advising the public to stay away on the night of Monday 16th May, 2022 was in line with custom and tradition to show respect to the departed King and the Queen Mother”.

It emphasised that a number of security officers were deployed at the funeral grounds as well as in and around Koforidua to ensure an incident-free burial rite.

“REGSEC wishes to indicate that the region is safe and peaceful.”

Food prices will drop but not immediately – Quartey

Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Professor Peter Quartey has projected food prices in Ghana to drop but not immediately.

He explained that the rising inflation in the country is due to two main factors, external and domestic. With the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, he said prices of food commodities and other items will certainly go up because of the effect on import.

The warfare, he belives, is not ending anytime soon.

On the domestic front, Prof Qyartey explained that food production will go up due to the raining season, a situation that will result in the drop of prices of food items but that will not be immediate.

“Where I sit, I think the inflation is coming from two sources, external that is imported inflation and domestics inflation. with the imported inflation, because we tend to import certain food items as well as other commodities, we will certainly have to import more.

The Russian-Ukraine war the effect of Covid on import and supply chain etc, it is not going to go away immediately. So certainly, we will likely to see increases in inflation.

“On the domestic front, since we import oil, we import a lot of items as well as produce some locally. Food production will pick but not immediately because of the rainfed agriculture system that we have been having in our country therefore, as we experience rains, food production will pick up. So in the next couple of months we are likely to see some harvests which will minimize the effect on inflation,” he said on the News 360 on TV3 Monday May 16.

For his part, the Chief Operations Officer at Dalex Finance, Mr Joe Jackson said the rising food inflation in Ghana is gradually becoming a major concern in the country.

In his view, the country is heading to a period where people will be forced to skip meals because they cannot afford to pay for the high prices.

This, he said, would lead to a crisis.

Speaking on the News at 10 on TV3 Monday May 16 in relation to the increasing inflation rate, he said “One of the things you have to realize is that when you listen to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) they will tell you that the highest inflation occurred in the prices of food.

“That is why people are worried or thinking we may be heading to a crisis because the price of food, when it is going so high hit most vulnerable in the society very hard.

“The poor and vulnerable are going to be hit very hard and the fear is that we are going to a place where food prices are so high and people skipping meals because they can’t afford it.”

The General Secretary of the Ghana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr Edward Kareweh, has also said Ghanaians should prepare for hunger this year if immediate steps are not taken by the government to invest in the agriculture sector of the economy,

In his view, there is a deliberate attempt to reduce agriculture output in Ghana due to the low investments in the sector.

Contributing to a discussion on the impact of the ongoing geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine on food supply in Ghana, Mr Kareweh said on TV3’s New day show with Johnnie Hughes on Monday May 16 that “As we speak, the food you are eating was not produced in 2022. There will be hunger, already there is hunger and the hunger will be more because I don’t foresee government getting money to support farmers to produce.”

He added “there is deliberate policy to reduce out put. When you refuse to invest what are you doing?”

He further said that Ghana does not have enough food available to feed the people for even one month without importing more food commodities.

The reality is that a lot of food items are imported into the country therefore, when upheavals and other economic challenges occur in those countries, automatically they become Ghana’s issues, Mr Kareweh added.

“The realty is that we do not have enough food in this country. The reality is that we import so much into this country. So if there is a problem in those country you import those problems,” he said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Ghana has warned Ghanaians against travelling to the Gao Region in Northern Mali due to the abduction and execution of travelers especially Christians in that part of the francophone West African country.

The Ministry also advised Ghanaians who are already in the Gao region to flee immediately for their safety and security.

A statement issued by the Ministry on Tuesday May 17 said “In view of recent abductions and executions of travelers especially Christians (including Ghanaians) in the Gao Region of Northern Mali, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration advises against all travels to Gao and its surrounding areas in northeastern Mali.

“Commercial transport operators and drivers who still ply the Gao route from Ghana are particularly advised, as a matter of urgency, to suspend all operations to that part of Mali.

“Ghanaians in the Gao region are also advised to leave immediately for their safety and security.”

Don’t wait till last minute to register your SIM cards – Gov’t

The government says it has observed that the number of people who re-register their SIM cards on a daily basis has dropped.

Deputy Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ama Pomaa Boateng while speaking in an interview with TV3 on Tuesday May 17 appealed to the public to make it a priority to register before the deadline.

She said extending the deadline is no longer an option.

“There was so much pressure for us to extend it, people said they were waiting for their IDs to be ready before they can get it. So with all of those things we extended the deadline.

“We also realized that the number of people that register on a daily basis has also dropped, so we are going to intensify the advocacy once again. The fact that it has been extended doesn’t mean you should wait till 30th then you go and look for your IDs to go and register,” she said.

The deadline for the SIM card re-registration was pushed forward from 31st March to 31st July.

“More time will be required to update the SIM Registration App for the registration of diplomats, while a Self-Service SIM Registration App is also being developed to facilitate registration of SIM cards for Ghanaians resident abroad.

“This will be operational by mid-April,” a statement issued by Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said on Tuesday, March 22.