Botswana Registers First Suspected Case of Coronavirus 

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The Latest:China Expresses Confidence Coronavirus Epidemic Will Be DefeatedUS Warns Americans Not to Travel to ChinaMap: Where has 2019 Novel Coronavirus Been Detected?GABORONE, BOTSWANA – Botswana has registered its first suspected case of the deadly coronavirus. A person arriving from China aboard Ethiopian Airways showed symptoms consistent with the virus.  Botswana’s Ministry of Health said a man was detained at a local clinic soon after his flight from China landed at Gaborone’s Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Thursday. The ministry said the unnamed male displayed symptoms consistent with the coronavirus but did not say what those symptoms were. The country’s director of health services, Malaki Tshipayagae, said the patient has been isolated at a clinic in the capital as an investigation continues. Meanwhile, the government has urged Botswana nationals to take precautions in order to avoid contracting the virus. NervousnessMpho Marumo, a Gaborone resident, said there is panic after the first suspected case. “We are doing all we can to take the necessary precautions,” Marumo said. “Our fear is that the virus might have spread already, as many people arrive from China, some undetected.” The suspected case came as some Botswana nationals were holed up in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. Botswana has an estimated 500 nationals studying or working in China. A student who spoke on condition of anonymity said it had been a very difficult few days. “I was supposed to leave to Botswana but my ticket was canceled,” the student said. “Following that, we are not allowed to go anywhere.” The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency as the death toll from the virus rose above 200 this week. 

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Climate Activists From African Nations Make Urgent Appeal

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate and peers from other African nations on Friday made an urgent appeal for the world to pay more attention to the continent that stands to suffer the most from global warming despite contributing to it the least.The Fridays For Future movement and activist Greta Thunberg held a news conference with the activists to spotlight the marginalization of African voices a week after The Associated Press cropped Nakate out of a photo at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Nakate, Makenna Muigai of Kenya, Ayakha Melithafa of South Africa and climate scientist Ndoni Mcunu of South Africa pointed out the various challenges both in combating climate change on the booming continent of some 1.2 billion people and in inspiring the world’s response.“African activists are doing so much,” Nakate said. “It gets so frustrating when no one really cares about them.”The AP has apologized and acknowledged mistakes in sending out the cropped photo on Jan. 24 and in how the news organization initially reacted. The AP has said that it will expand diversity training worldwide as a result.Nakate said Friday she was very sad the photo incident occurred but added that “I’m actually very optimistic about this” as it has drawn global attention to climate activists in Africa and the various crises there.Muigai pointed to a recent locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years, which threatens food security for millions of people in countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and is moving toward South Sudan and Uganda.Challenges include everything from deforestation to bad energy policies, Muigai said. They also include changes in storm intensity that brought two devastating cyclones to Mozambique a year ago, Mcunu said. And they include the recent drought crisis in South Africa’s Cape Town region, Melithafa said.“The narrative we have is Africans can adapt to this. That is actually not true,” Mcunu said.The warnings have been stark for Africa. No continent will be struck more severely by climate change, the U.N. Environment Program has said.Africa has 15% of the world’s population, yet is likely to “shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs,” the African Development Bank has said, noting that seven of the 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.And yet “to date, energy-related CO₂ emissions in Africa represented around 2% of cumulative global emissions,” the International Energy Agency said last year.In some cases it is difficult to persuade people to care more about climate change because there are so many other pressing everyday issues such as poverty, unemployment and gender-based violence, Melithafa said. “That’s hard for the global north to understand.”Instead people should work to hold more developed countries accountable for producing the bulk of emissions that contribute to global warming, the activists said.“Every individual is needed in the fight against the climate crisis,” Nakate said. “Because climate change is not specific about the kinds of people it affects.”For her part, Thunberg firmly returned the spotlight to the activists from African countries.“I’m not the reason why we’re here,” she said, later adding: “We are fighting for the exact same cause.” And she noted that while whatever she says gets turned into a headline, that is not the case for many others.“The African perspective is always so under-reported,” Thunberg said.Nakate urged the audience to make 2020 the year of action on climate change after young activists in 2019 put the issue squarely at the center of global discussions.It won’t be easy, she noted: “It is the uncomfortable things that will help to save our planet.”

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Italy Stops Planes To and From China Over Coronavirus

The Italian government declared a state of emergency Friday and closed all air traffic to and from China. The move came after confirmation that two Chinese tourists tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple are being treated in isolation in a Rome hospital specializing in infectious diseases. A special cabinet meeting held by the Italian government Friday declared a six-month state of emergency and allocated $5.5 million to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Further meetings were planned between the country’s health authorities and the civil defense department to decide what additional measures were needed.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed Thursday that a Chinese couple from Wuhan that had been staying in Rome’s Palatino hotel, near the Colosseum, had been admitted to Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital after showing symptoms of coronavirus.  A man passes through the main gate of the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital, the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, in Rome, Jan. 31, 2020.The prime minister said there is no reason to panic, adding that all measures have been adopted to try to prevent the spread of the disease.  The director of the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Professor Giuseppe Ippolito, said the Chinese couple were placed in isolation and are “in reasonable condition.”  Health minister Roberto Speranza said the state of emergency status gives the government more powers to deal to deal with the infection, but does not change life for Italians.Speranza also said efforts are being made to retrace the places the Chinese couple visited since arriving in Milan on January 23. The other 18 tourists and the driver who traveled with them on a bus also are being tested and remain under observation.The Palatino Grand Hotel is seen in Rome, Jan. 31, 2020.At the hotel where the couple were staying, their room was immediately sealed off and decontamination was carried out. The hotel has had cancellations, even though the director declared there is no danger for the staff or guests.  Additionally, the Italian government is organizing a special plane to bring back some 80 Italians in Wuhan. It is likely they will be flown back Monday, then will spend two weeks in quarantine.
 

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