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Uganda Launches COVID-19 Rapid Test Kit, Eyes Africa Market

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Uganda says it has launched COVID-19 rapid test kit. The east African country has long experience of infectious diseases like HIV and Ebola which it has drawn on to develop diagnostics expertise.

On Wednesday, Uganda announced the launch of a rapid COVID-19 antibody test as it eyes Africa market. The project was partly funded by France through its embassy.

Developers from a team at Makerere- Uganda’s oldest public university, hope to market the kits in sub-Saharan Africa, where the laboratory infrastructure needed for extensive novel coronavirus testing is minimal.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda has been kept relatively mild, with only about 40,600 cases in total and 334 deaths.

A researcher at Makerere’s department of pathology, Misaki Wayengera said “this is a point-of-care test that can be used within equatorial Africa village settings, remote areas where there’s no laboratory, there’s no electricity, there’s no expert.

“We’ve had a history of developing rapid tests for infectious diseases…so when COVID came we were like, ‘ok, we have the skills, why don’t we do this’,” Wayengera, who also helped to invent a rapid test for Ebola.

The kits work by detecting two antibodies, Immunoglobulin M (IGM) and Immunoglobulin G (IGG), triggered when someone is infected with coronavirus, Wayengera told Reuters before the launch at Mulago, Uganda’s national referral hospital.

Makerere partnered with local firm Astel diagnostics Uganda, a world health organization-certified manufacturer, to make an initial batch of 2,400 tests. Wayengera said they are in talks with bigger investors about larger commercial production.

The kit, which has been approved by Uganda’s state-run national drugs authority, has an accuracy rate of 70%, he said, but researchers hope eventually to raise that to 90%.

Although rapid testing is seen as key to combating COVID-19, poor countries like Uganda have struggled to find a cheap and easily available point-of-care diagnostic tool for mass testing.

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Idriss Déby: Macron’s Tribute To Chad President Killed By Rebels

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Slain Chadian president, Idris Deby, is being buried today, Friday in the capital city N’Djamena. The funeral is being attended by world leaders, including French president Emmanuel Macron.

Déby was a key player in security strategy in the Sahel region.

Macron addressed his words to the casket, saying “you lived as a soldier, you died as a soldier with weapons in hand.

He added “You gave your life for Chad in defence of its citizens.”

Chad military reported president Déby was killed on Monday while on the frontline leading his troops against fighters of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a group formed by dissident army officers in 2016.

Malian and Guinean leaders have arrived in N’Djamena despite warnings from the rebels that foreign leaders should not attend for security reasons.

Friday’s ceremony also saw a military march-past and a speech by Déby’s son, Gen Mahamat “Kaka” Déby Itno, who the army has named as the country’s new leader.

After a prayer is said at the grand mosque of N’Djamena, Déby’s body will be flown to Amdjarass, a small village next to his hometown of Berdoba, near the Sudanese border.

His son, 37-year-old general Mahamat Idriss Déby, has taken over power after his death.

Meanwhile, the US has urged its nationals in chad to exercise caution on the day of Déby’s funeral.

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Thousands Facing Hunger Over Mozambique Crisis – UN

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The United Nations says thousands of people are facing hunger as a result of the crisis in Mozambique. Several days of attacks in Palma last month were targeted at foreign workers and expatriates. Reports say the attacks have caused tens of thousands to flee.  Jihadists killed dozens of people in the five-day assault. At least 50,000 have been displaced – some to remote areas.

UN World Food Programme says the crisis in northern Mozambique is adding to a growing humanitarian crisis in the region. The agency says close to a million persons affected by the conflict in northern Mozambique are facing severe hunger, many lacking proper shelter.  The agency says malnutrition among children is also on the rise.

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Nigeria Heightens Security On Border With Chad

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Nigeria’s minister of defence Bashir Magashi says the country has heightened security on its border with chad following president Idris Deby’s killing by rebels.

The minister says this is because of external threats that would come from the influx of refugees. Magashi says only Nigerians living in Chad will be allowed back into the country.

Nigeria borders Chad in the north-east where Boko Haram militants have been active recently. Chadian soldiers have been part of the troops battling insecurity in west Africa.

Chad is seen as an important country to the international efforts to combat insecurity in the west African region.

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