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Queen Elizabeth II tests positive for COVID

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According to (AP), “Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and is experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, Buckingham Palace said.

The palace said the 95-year-old British monarch will continue with light duties at Windsor Castle over the coming week.

“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines,” the palace said in a statement.

The queen has received three jabs of coronavirus vaccine.

Both her eldest son Prince Charles and daughter-in-law Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have also recently contracted COVID-19. Charles has since returned to work.

Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the queen reached the milestone of 70 years on the throne on Feb. 6.

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Africa

COVID-19 Claims the Life of a House on the Rock Pastor

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Pastor Adeyinka Akinbami

A House On The Rock pastor, Adeyinka Akinbami(61), lost his life to COVID-19 on Friday, the 8th of January, 2021.

The Senior Pastor, of the church, Paul Adefarasin, urged Nigerians to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols.

“Yesterday (Friday), I received the rude and shocking news of someone deeply dear to me and all of the HOTR family. The passing of Pastor Yinka Akinbami has become most painful because if there truly were good men, he was certainly one. To my brother, sleep well till we meet to part no more.

“Family, kindly allow me to solicit your intercession for his dear wife of over 30 years; Pastor Tolu, his children, his children-in-law, and grandchildren. We can only at best imagine how much pain they are feeling. We share the pain of his loss but they will feel it a lot more.

“It’s important to remind the community about the deadly nature of the COVID-19 and its mutant virus strains. Please do your part by following all the recommended precautions. That way, you are able to protect yourself and others who become proximal to you. God bless and keep us all”, Adefarasin Tweeted.

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COVID-19 intensifies the urgency to expand sustainable energy solutions worldwide

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030, countries must safeguard the gains already attained and accelerate efforts to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

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COVID-19 intensifies the urgency to expand sustainable energy solutions worldwide

To meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets by 2030, countries must safeguard the gains already attained and accelerate efforts to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Despite accelerated progress over the past decade, the world will fall short of ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030 unless efforts are scaled up significantly, reveals the new Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the report, significant progress had been made on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 prior to the start of the COVID-19 crisis. This includes a notable reduction in the number of people worldwide lacking access to electricity, strong uptake of renewable energy for electricity generation, and improvements in energy efficiency. Despite these advances, global efforts remain insufficient to reach the key targets of SDG 7 by 2030.

The number of people without access to electricity declined from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 789 million in 2018, however, under policies that were either in place or planned before the start of the COVID-19 crisis, an estimated 620 million people would still lack access in 2030, 85 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. SDG 7 calls for universal energy access by 2030.

Other important elements of the goal also continue to be off track. Almost 3 billion people remained without access to clean cooking in 2017, mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Largely stagnant progress since 2010 leads to millions of deaths each year from breathing cooking smoke. The share of renewable energy in the global energy mix is only inching up gradually, despite the rapid growth of wind and solar power in electricity generation. An acceleration of renewables across all sectors is required to move closer to reaching the SDG 7 target, with advances in heating and transport currently lagging far behind their potential. Following strong progress on global energy efficiency between 2015 and 2016, the pace has slackened. The rate of improvement needs to speed up dramatically, from 1.7 percent in 2017 to at least 3 percent in coming years.

Accelerating the pace of progress in all regions and sectors will require stronger political commitment, long-term energy planning, increased public and private financing, and adequate policy and fiscal incentives to spur faster deployment of new technologies An increased emphasis on “leaving no one behind” is required, given the large proportion of the population without access in remote, rural, poorer and vulnerable communities.

The 2020 report introduces tracking on a new indicator, 7.A.1, on international financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy. Although total flows have doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017, only 12 percent reached the least-developed countries, which are the furthest from achieving the various SDG 7 targets.

The five custodian agencies of the report were designated by the UN Statistical Commission to compile and verify country data, along with regional and global aggregates, in relation to the progress in achieving the SDG 7 goals. The report presents policymakers and development partners with global, regional and country-level data to inform decisions and identify priorities for a sustainable recovery from COVID-19 that scales up affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. This collaborative work highlights once more the importance of reliable data to inform policymaking as well as the opportunity to enhance data quality through international cooperation to further strengthen national capacities. The report has been transmitted by SDG 7 custodian agencies to the United Nations Secretary-General to inform the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s annual review.

Key highlights on SDG7 targets

Please note that the report’s findings are based on international compilations of official national-level data up to 2018 while also drawing on analysis of recent trends and policies related to SDG 7 targets.

Access to electricity: Since 2010, more than a billion people have gained access to electricity. As a result, 90 percent of the planet’s population was connected in 2018. Yet 789 million people still live without electricity and despite accelerated progress in recent years, the SDG target of universal access by 2030 appears unlikely to be met, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupts electrification efforts. Regional disparities persist. Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia are approaching universal access but Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind, accounting for 70 percent of the global deficit. Several large access-deficit countries in the region have electrification growth rates that are not keeping up with population growth. Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have the largest deficits, with 85 million and 68 million unelectrified people, respectively. India has the third largest deficit with 64 million unelectrified people, although its rate of electrification outpaces population growth. Among the 20 countries with the largest access deficits, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Uganda showed the greatest improvement since 2010, thanks to annual electrification growth rates in excess of 3.5 percentage points, driven largely by a comprehensive approach that combined grid, mini grid and off-grid solar electrification.

Clean cooking: Almost three billion people remained without access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking, residing mainly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the 2010 to 2018 period, progress has remained largely stagnant, with the rate of increase in access to clean cooking even decelerating since 2012 in some countries, falling behind population growth. The top 20 countries lacking access to clean cooking accounted for 82 percent of the global population without access between 2014 and 2018. This lack of clean cooking access continues to have serious gender, health, and climate consequences that affect not only the achievement of SDG target 7.1, but also the progress towards several other related SDGs. Under current and planned policies, 2.3 billion people would still be deprived of access to clean cooking fuels and technologies in 2030. The COVID‑19 pandemic is likely to swell the toll of prolonged exposure of women and children to household air pollution caused by mainly using raw coal, kerosene or traditional uses of biomass for cooking. Without prompt action, the world will fall short of the universal cooking access goal by almost 30 percent. Greater access to clean cooking was achieved largely in two regions of Asia. From 2010 to 2018, in Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia the numbers of people lacking access fell from one billion to 0.8 billion. Central Asia and Southern Asia also saw improved access to clean cooking, in these regions the number of people without access dropped from 1.11 billion to 1.0 billion.

Renewables: The share of renewables in the global energy mix reached 17.3 percent of final energy consumption in 2017, up from 17.2 percent in 2016 and 16.3 percent in 2010. Renewables consumption (+2.5 percent in 2017) is growing faster than global energy consumption (+1.8 percent in 2017), continuing a trend in evidence since 2011. Most of the growth in renewables has occurred in the electricity sector, thanks to the rapid expansion of wind and solar power that has been enabled by sustained policy support and falling costs. Meanwhile, the use of renewables in heating and transport is lagging. An acceleration of renewables across all sectors will be needed to achieve SDG target 7.2. The full impact of the COVID-19 crisis on renewables is yet to become clear. Disruption to supply chains and other areas risks delaying deployments of wind and solar PV. The growth of electricity generation from renewables appears to have slowed down as a result of the pandemic, according to the available data. But they so far appear to be holding up much better than other major fuels such as coal and natural gas.

Energy efficiency: Global primary energy intensity – an important indicator of how heavily the world’s economic activity uses energy – improved by 1.7 percent in 2017. That is better than the 1.3 percent average rate of progress between 1990 and 2010 but still well below the original target rate of 2.6 percent and a marked slowdown from the previous two years. Specific metrics on energy intensity in different sectors indicate that improvements have been fastest in the industry and passenger transport sectors, exceeding 2 percent since 2010. In the services and residential sectors, they have averaged between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. Freight transport and agriculture have lagged slightly behind. Achieving SDG target 7.3 for energy efficiency will require the overall pace of improvement to accelerate significantly to around 3 percent a year between 2017 and 2030. But preliminary estimates suggest that the rate remained well below that level in 2018 and 2019, making an even more substantial increase in the coming years necessary to reach the SDG 7 target.

International financial flows: International public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean and renewable energy doubled since 2010, reaching $21.4 billion in 2017. These flows mask important disparities with only 12 percent of flows in 2017 reaching those most in need (least developed countries and small island developing states). To accelerate renewable energy deployment in developing countries, there is a need for enhanced international cooperation that includes stronger public and private engagement, to drive an increase of financial flows to those most in need – even more so in a post-COVID-19 world.

***

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep inequalities around the world in terms of access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy. Electricity has been a vital underpinning of the response to the public health emergency in many countries – but hundreds of millions of people worldwide still lack basic access to it, with the majority of them in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. “Even before today’s unprecedented crisis, the world was not on track to meet key sustainable energy goals. Now, they are likely to become even harder to achieve. This means we must redouble our efforts to bring affordable, reliable and cleaner energy to all – especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is greatest – in order to build more prosperous and resilient economies.”

 “Access to reliable energy is a lifeline, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. It is essential not only for preventing and addressing the pandemic but also for accelerating the recovery and building back better by securing a more sustainable and resilient future for all,” said Riccardo Puliti, Global Director for Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director for Infrastructure in Africa at the World Bank. “The report provides solid data and evidence that build the case for why it is necessary to act now, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where under the status quo, 530 million people–or more than two times the population of Nigeria–will still be without electricity in 2030.”

 “Renewable energy is key to achieving SDG 7 and building resilient, equitable and sustainable economies in a post COVID-19 world. Now more than ever is the time for bold international cooperation to bridge the energy access gap and place sustainable energy at the heart of economic stimulus and recovery measures. IRENA is committed to scale up action with its global membership and partners to channel investment and guide policy intervention in pursuit of sustainable development for all humankind,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“This report is an exemplar case of cooperation between the custodian agencies of SDG 7 to present comprehensive data and analysis, delivering a common message regarding the progress towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. As to the current situation, it concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic can either widen the sustainable energy access gaps or accelerate the path towards achieving SDG 7, depending mostly on priorities of national economic stimulus packages and the global response to support those most in need,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director, United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

“In this time of a global health crisis, protecting the health of 3 billion people without clean cooking solutions is more critical than ever. Governments, foundations, donors, and the private sector need to combine their efforts to accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable fuels and technologies to protect the health of the most vulnerable population,” said Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director-General, Division of Universal Health Coverage/Healthier Populations, World Health Organization (WHO).

This is the sixth edition of this report, formerly known as the Global Tracking Framework (GTF). This year’s edition was chaired by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

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COVID19

A sad das as US deaths from COVID-19 surpass 100,000 milestone

The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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coronavirus-death in USA reaches a millistone

New York City- The U.S. has surpassed a jarring milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: 100,000 deaths.

That number is the best estimate and most assuredly an undercount. But it represents the stark reality that more Americans have died from the virus than from the Vietnam and Korea wars combined.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, the virus has infected more than 5.6 million people worldwide and killed over 350,000. The U.S. has the most infections and deaths by far.

Early on, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and predicted the country wouldn’t reach this death toll.

The stark reality comes as only half of Americans said they would be willing to get vaccinated if scientists are successful in developing a vaccine, according to a new poll released Wednesday from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, issued a stern warning after viewing video showing Memorial Day crowds gathered at a pool party in Missouri.

“We have a situation in which you see that type of crowding with no mask and people interacting. That’s not prudent and that’s inviting a situation that could get out of control,” he said during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “Don’t start leapfrogging some of the recommendations in the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”

After months of lockdowns in countries around the world, places have begun reopening in stages. Mediterranean beaches and Las Vegas casinos laid out plans to welcome tourists again. Churches began opening up. And humans restless at being cooped up indoors for weeks began venturing outside in droves, often without practicing safe social distancing or wearing protective coverings.

Summertime is already a time when more people head outdoors. This year, it also means the every-four-years national political conventions in the United States where the two major political parties anoint a presidential candidate.

The events generally draw thousands of delegates and others who converge for several days. Fauci said it’s too early to say whether this year’s conventions should be held as normal.

“If we have a really significant diminution in the number of new cases and hospitalizations and we’re at a level where it’s really very low, you might have some capability of gathering,” he said. “But I think we need to reserve judgment right now, because we’re a few months from there. Hopefully we will see that diminution. If we don’t, then I would have significant reservation about that.”

And other public health experts cautioned that even more death is in the offing.

“Despite the terrible losses seen and the many difficulties Americans have faced to date in this pandemic, we’re still probably only in the early stages,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington. “In the U.S. we could be looking at a long pandemic summer with a slow burn of cases and deaths. There’s also reason to be concerned about a new wave of infections in the fall. So, we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.”

South Korea announced a spike in new infections and considered reimposing social distancing restrictions, revealing the setbacks ahead for other nations on the road to reopening. That country reported 40 newly confirmed cases – the biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days.

All but four of the cases were in the densely populated Seoul region, where officials are scrambling to stop transmissions linked to nightclubs, karaoke rooms and a massive e-commerce warehouse. All were reopened last month when social distancing measures were relaxed.

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 5.6 million people and killed over 350,000, including about 170,000 in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University of government reports, which experts say does not show the entire scope of the pandemic. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Johns Hopkins tally of deaths in the U.S. hovered just below 100,000.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump several months ago likened the coronavirus to the flu and dismissed worries that it could lead to so many deaths. The administration’s leading scientists have since warned that as many as 240,000 Americans could die in the country’s outbreak.

According to the AP-NORC poll, about half of Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if scientists working to create one succeed.

The poll found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse. Among Americans who say they wouldn’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 worry about safety.

“I am not an anti-vaxxer,” said Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But, “to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a year or two … causes me to fear that it won’t be widely tested as to side effects.”

Among those who want a vaccine, the AP-NORC poll found protecting themselves, their family and the community are the top reasons.

“I’m definitely going to get it,” said Brandon Grimes, 35, of Austin, Texas. “As a father who takes care of his family, I think … it’s important for me to get vaccinated as soon as it’s available to better protect my family.”

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild cases and recover. However, the coronavirus has been seen attacking in far stealthier ways – from blood clots to heart and kidney damage.

Whatever the final statistics show about how often it kills, health specialists agree the new coronavirus appears deadlier than the typical flu.

Worldwide, about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in early stages of testing or poised to begin.

Comparing how the virus has impacted different countries is tricky, given varying levels of testing and the fact that some coronavirus deaths can be missed. According to figures tracked by Johns Hopkins University, the death rate per 100,000 people is lower in the U.S. than Italy, France and Spain but higher than Germany, China, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

“The experience of other countries shows that death at that scale was preventable,” Kaiser Family Foundation’s Michaud said. “To some extent the United States suffers from having a slow start and inconsistent approach. We might have seen a different trajectory if different policies were put into place earlier and more forcefully.”

Countries with low death rates suppressed the virus “through lots of testing, contact tracing and policies to support isolation and quarantine of people at risk,” Michaud said.

The White House said the president was committed to holding a Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital even as local officials warned that the region – one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus – will not be ready to hold a major event so soon.

SeaWorld and Walt Disney World plan to reopen to undisclosed limited numbers of tourists in Orlando, Florida, in June and July after months of being shuttered. The plan calls for SeaWorld to open to the public on June 11. Disney plans a tiered reopening, with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom opening on July 11, followed by Epcot and Hollywood Studios on July 15.

U.S. officials are pushing hard to reopen even as more than a dozen states are still seeing increasing new cases.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that casinos can reopen on June 4 after a 10-week shutdown, welcoming tourists to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas. Sisolak had planned to make the announcement at a news conference but scrapped the live event after he learned he was potentially exposed to the virus at a workplace visit.

Johnson reported from Washington state and Pane reported from Boise, Idaho. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

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The PressAfrica: Country’s Emma Agu Headlines African Inaugural Ball Celebration for Obama

Bishop Timothy Titus Scott, Sr., 88, of St. James Temple Church of God in Christ in Clarksdale, Mississippi; Pastor Alvin Charles McElroy, 79, of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, New York; and Father Gioacchino Basile, 60, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark

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By Lolade Sowoolu

Nigerian-born music sensation Emma Agu will headline unparalleled musical and cultural dance entertainment at the African Inaugural Ball in the United States on Jan. 18.

Agu, a New York-based artist known to his fans as “Alabama,” will perform his hit song “Obama: The Wind of Çhange” live, at the event celebrating the event celebrating the historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.

https://allafrica.com/stories/200901120544.html

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