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Tanzania’s New President Lifts Media Ban

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Tanzania's New President Changes Policy On COVID-19

Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has lifted a ban imposed on some media in the country by former president, John Magufuli who died last month.

President Hassan told national authorities “I understand that there are media organizations that have been closed – let them open and ensure they follow the law.”

She said government must not be seen to curtail media freedoms.

While swearing in new ministers and permanent secretaries, Hassan said media rules, regulations and penalties should be transparent, so that everyone knows what to expect should they do wrong – and so that the punishment is proportionate.

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DR Congo Begins COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign

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African Countries Keen On AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine - WHO

The Democratic Republic of Congo will begin its COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Monday after suspending the exercise over fears regarding the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

In early March, more than 1.7 million doses of coronavirus vaccines arrived in the DR Congo as part of the COVAX initiative but the country postponed the vaccination after studies in South Africa questioned its efficacy on the variant that is dominant in the country.

Having now reassured the public that the doses are safe for use, the country’s health minister Eteni Longondo said priority will be given to health personnel, people who suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and basic social personnel, that is to say those who are in constant contact with the public.

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Zimbabwe Frees Some Inmates To Reduce COVID-19 Risk In Jails  

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Zimbabwe government has begun releasing prisoners amid concerns of overcrowding and coronavirus pandemic. About 3,000 prisoners have been released under a presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded jails.

Zimbabwe’s prisons have a capacity of 17,000 prisoners but held about 22,000 before the amnesty declared by president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

400 prisoners were released from Chikurubi prison and other jails in the capital, Harare, on Saturday with more coming from other prisons countrywide.

Those to be released had been convicted of non-violent crimes. All females imprisoned for non-violent crimes and who served a third of their sentences are to be released, and all disabled persons convicted of non-violent crimes.  Africa centers for disease control and prevention data show, Zimbabwe has recorded 37,534 cases of covid-19, including 1,551 deaths.

Authorities say, those convicted of crimes such as murder, treason, human trafficking, and sexual offenses will not benefit.

President Mnangagwa also commuted death sentences to life sentences for many prisoners on death row. Zimbabwe still has the death penalty but has not hanged anyone in years.

Authorities have suspended visits to prisons while plans are made to vaccinate inmates as part of measures to combat the spread of the virus. Political activists who have been sent to prison as part of a government crackdown on dissent have spoken of dire conditions, which they said put inmates at risk of both starvation and disease outbreak.

In another response to the pandemic, Zimbabwe has canceled the independence day celebrations planned for April 18 to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

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Egypt: At Least 11 Killed, 100 Injured In Train Crash North Of Cairo

At least 11 persons have been killed in Egypt in a train accident. Egypt’s health ministry said in a statement, at least 100 persons were also injured on Sunday in the crash in Egypt’s Qalioubia province north of Cairo. Around 60 ambulances were sent to take the injured from the scene to nearby hospitals.

Railway authorities say at least four train wagons ran off the tracks at the city of Banha in the province. The train was travelling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from the Egyptian capital.

Sunday’s train accident came three weeks after two passenger trains collided in the province of Sohag, killing at least 18 persons and injuring 200 others, including children.

The government says it has launched a broad renovation and modernization initiative in the railway system.

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