Coronavirus: Why are black Americans the most affected in the US?

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States has now passed 985,000, with the disease killing more than 55,000 people. But as novel coronavirus continues its march across all 50 states, disproportionately high numbers of black Americans are among those dying from the disease.

Preliminary nationwide data released by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests black Americans make up about 30 percent of COVID-19 patients, despite the fact only 13 percent of the US population is black. But much of that federal data is missing information on the racial identity of those who have contracted COVID-19 – and some state and local figures paint an even bleaker picture. In Louisiana, black people account for 56 percent of those who have died from COVID-19 but only 32 percent of the general population. In Michigan, black people comprise 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths but just 13.8 percent of the state population.

Health researchers, journalists and social scientists say there are several reasons why black communities are being disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Many black Americans work in essential public-facing industries such as retail, mass transit and food preparation, holding jobs that do not offer sick leave or health insurance and which only raise enough wages for rental housing in areas neglected by local authorities. African Americans are also at higher risk of chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, pre-existing conditions that place extra stress on those who fall ill with COVID-19. Racial justice advocates say the challenges that coronavirus poses to black communities in the US stem from decades of racist public policy and stereotyping.

Football: France’s top two divisions will not resume this season

The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons will not resume after France banned all sporting events, including behind closed doors, until September.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the 2019-20 sporting season was over as he announced plans to ease France’s coronavirus lockdown on 11 May.

French football’s governing body had hoped to resume the season on 17 June and finish the campaign on 25 July.

Football was suspended indefinitely in France on 13 March.

It is not yet known whether Ligue de Football Professional (LFP) will choose to abandon the season with no promotion or relegation and no champions or base the outcome of the campaign on current standings.

Defending champions Paris St-Germain are 12 points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1, with 10 rounds of matches and one outstanding fixture left to play.

Toulouse are bottom of the table, 17 points from safety, and 10 points behind Amiens. Nimes are 18th and in the relegation play-off spot, three points behind St Etienne in 17th.

PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi said after the announcement: “We respect of course the French government decision – we plan on competing in the Champions League with Uefa agreement – wherever and whenever it is held.

“If it is not possible to play in France we will play our matches abroad subject to the best conditions for our players and the safety of all our staff.”

The top five sides in Ligue 2 are separated by just four points, with Lorient and Lens currently occupying the automatic promotion spots.

The LFP had previously met on 10 April and voted to resume the Ligue 1 season.

However, Philippe said: “The 2019-20 season of professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume.

“It will be possible, on sunny days, to practice an individual sporting activity outdoors, obviously respecting the rules of social distancing.

“It will not be possible, neither to practice sport in covered places, nor team or contact sports.”

European leagues have until 25 May to tell European football’s governing body Uefa whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.

Javier Tebas, president of Spain’s La Liga, said after the announcement in France: “I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas, etc.

“If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football. In other countries teams are already training, that’s the example to follow.

“In Spain, football is an important economic driver that we need to reactivate like many others. We continue to focus on this reactivation, in a responsible manner and adhering to health recommendations, as soon as possible.”

The Dutch top flight was abandoned on Friday with no promotion or relegation and no champions, while on Monday Belgian clubs postponed a vote on confirming the cancellation of their top flight until next week.

The head of the Dutch FA told BBC Sport he thinks it is “very doubtful” the Premier League will be able to complete the 2019-20 campaign.

Uefa has said it will use on-field performance to determine which clubs make up next season’s European club competitions.

If league seasons cannot be finished, it said national associations would need to select clubs to qualify for Europe.

David Beckham kicks off new initative via social media to cope with COVID-19

Former England international David Beckham kickstarted a new initiative via social media as part of new ways to cope with staying indoors as result of various quarantine measures in dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

#EmbracingNewNorms is a social media campaign that is the first step of a broader holistic initiative for people to put their health first as they ease into the new normal that has become daily life.

China says Indian criticism of coronavirus test kits is “irresponsible”

China has criticised India’s decision to stop using Chinese testing kits for the novel coronavirus because of quality issues as unfair and irresponsible in the latest strain in their ties.

The Indian Council of Medical Research, the top agency dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, said on Monday it planned to return the kits for antibody tests procured from two Chinese firms because of poor accuracy.

The Chinese embassy said it was deeply concerned by the Indian decision and Chinese authorities had validated the equipment produced by the two firms, Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.

“It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as ‘faulty’ and look at issues with preemptive prejudice,” embassy spokeswoman Ji Rong said in a statement.

AIT Chairman tests positive to coronavirus

Raymond Dokpesi Jnr, chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, owners of  Africa Independent Television, has tested positive to coronavirus.

“I got a call this morning confirming the result is COVID-19 positive. I am leaving now to the Gwagwalada Isolation Centre for treatment and hope to be back in two weeks. Many of you may have interacted with me during our various meetings and I would advise you to get tested as soon as possible,” Dokpesi said in a short message to members of staff in Abuja, AIT reported on Monday evening.

Dokpesi was said to have been self-isolating in the past week, before he developed malaria symptoms and started coughing.

He reportedly contacted the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for a COVID-19 test which came back positive.

Dokpesi is said not to have a recent travel history, advised those who have interacted with him lately to get tested.

Fuel price increase a possibility

Nigerians should be ready to pay high or low prices for petrol following the price liberalisation scheme currently in place, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency said on Monday.

The PPPRA is also engaging with the Central Bank of Nigeria to determine the applicable foreign exchange rates for the importation of petroleum products by oil marketers.

The agency’s Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, said these while answering questions on the new PMS price regime in Nigeria.

He said, “What we have in place is a market reflective pricing system. Petroleum products prices will be adjusted in line with market realities and the result is what we see presently with prices on the downward slide.

“Accordingly, price will naturally be adjusted to reflect a true picture of market fundamentals at any particular period, high or low.”

He, however, noted that efforts were being made to develop alternative fuels to the PMS by deepening the utilisation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas/Compressed Natural Gas as auto gas in Nigeria.

Saidu said this would come into fruition in the medium term and would help to cushion the effect in case of a situation of high oil price.

On what the PPPRA was doing to ensure that marketers get forex at the official rate to promote price affordability, he said the agency was working with the CBN on this.

Saidu said, “The agency is engaging with the CBN to determine the applicable forex rates for the importation of petroleum products and modality for accessing the applicable forex window by marketers.

“This rate is reflected on the pricing template to determine the Expected Open Market Price of the product.  This means that going forward, the guiding price to be advised will be determined based on the rates quoted by the CBN.”

The PPPRA boss said the price would guide the sale of the PMS in Nigeria, adding that the agency planned to extend the same pricing mechanism to kerosene, diesel and others.

Saidu noted that the essence of the price band was to ensure price efficiency that would be beneficial to both consumers and oil marketers.

He explained that the market-based pricing regime came into effect on March 19 following government’s approval for the adjustment of PMS price from N145 to N125/litre.

“Going forward, pricing of the PMS will reflect market fundamentals. The PPPRA will continue to monitor price trends and advise monthly guiding price for all petroleum products, based on prevailing market realities and other pricing fundamentals,” he stated.

Saidu explained that the recent plunge in oil price occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 and slowing global oil demand had a direct bearing on the EOMP of petrol, pushing it to a level below the pump price cap of N145/litre.

This, he said, made the government to order the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to review downward its ex-coastal price of petrol.

Saidu said, “Furthermore, the plunge in global crude prices made it increasingly difficult for government to finance the 2020 national budget as it was predicated on a crude price of $57 per barrel.

“The low crude oil prices, therefore, presented the opportunity to address the lingering challenges associated with the under/over-recovery regime and free up vital funds required to develop other key sectors of the economy.”

He said the new initiative would also stimulate private investment in the downstream sector and encourage the resumption of products importation by marketers, a development that would revive many dormant depots.

Saidu stated that under the new regime, PPPRA would continue to carry out all its mandates such as determining the pricing policy of petroleum products and regulating the supply and distribution of products.

He expressed optimism that the upcoming Dangote Refinery and other modular refinery projects nationwide would be able to key into the new pricing regime.