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A year since the first Covid-19 death, global rulers have failed to contain coronavirus

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Issue 2737
Brazils leader Jair Bolsonaro on 17 December last year - not a fan of masks or social distancing
Brazil’s leader Jair Bolsonaro on 17 December last year – not a fan of masks or social distancing (Pic: Palácio do Planalto/Flickr)

Monday marked one year since the first Covid-19 death in Wuhan, China.

Nearly two million deaths later, the global coronavirus response is shaped by a desperate scramble to roll out the vaccine as quickly as possible.

In South Africa, an aggressive new strain of the virus has driven a second wave.

It is likely to see another upsurge in deaths when winter starts to bite in May and June.

“We are going to get a third wave, even a fourth,” said Tivani Mashamba from the University of Pretoria. “This pandemic has only just started,”

The government has promised to vaccinate two thirds of the 60 million-strong population but has said just 1.5 million doses will be available to health workers by the end of March.

Meanwhile, South African factories manufacture vaccines for export to the West.

In Brazil, over 200,000 people have died from the virus.

Despite devastating levels of infection, Jair Bolsonaro’s government gave permission for gatherings of up to 300 people to over the Christmas period.

And in Mexico, intensive care units are struggling to cope.

Paramedic Daniel Reyes said, “The whole system is completely saturated. There’s no room in the public or private hospitals.”

Sarah Bates

Anger against long-term Ugandan leader

Uganda in east Africa was set for elections on Thursday this week.

President Yoweri Museveni is trying to extend his 35 years in office.

His main rival is musician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known by his stage name Bobi Wine.

Kyagulanyi has only a vague programme to tackle poverty.

But he has won support because of the corruption of the Museveni regime and soaring youth unemployment.

Over 75 percent of the population are under 30, and two-thirds of Uganda’s people are unemployed.

A coronavirus lockdown in Uganda was not accompanied by any economic support to ordinary people.

Millions of people have been driven into destitution.

It has been a brutal election campaign with repeated arrests of opposition figures.

And some 37 campaigners were massacred in November last year.

An increasingly desperate Museveni has claimed Kyagulanyi is “an agent of foreign interests” promoting homosexuality.

Whatever the vote, Museveni is unlikely to go quietly.

Soldiers were deployed across the capital Kampala in advance of the vote.

Charlie Kimber

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