07.10.2022

Coronavirus: Global death toll ‘could triple’ in next four months

Climate crisis activists have been warned they risk facing a large fine if they fail to comply with coronavirus restrictions banning gatherings of more than 30 people. 

The council said it was “working tirelessly” to keep the spread of Covid-19 under control but new restrictions could be introduced if the infection rate does not fall.

It came as a study predicted the global coronavirus death toll could triple over the next four months unless governments consider halting the easing of measures to control the pandemic.

Climate protesters risk large fine if they break coronavirus restrictions

The Met Police said risk assessments explaining how Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists were minimising the chance of Covid-19 transmission “did not meet the required standard”.

“It is your responsibility to check the position and ensure you are not committing an offence by being involved in a large gathering,” the force said in an open letter to XR protesters on Friday.

“We urge anyone arranging a gathering to inform your local police. We all need to continue to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Piers Corbyn, the brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, was fined £10,000 last weekend for arranging a protest in Trafalgar Square involving hundreds of anti-mask and anti-vaccination activists.

The XR climate action protests, which began on 1 September, have so far seen more than 500 arrests.

About 200 of those were linked to a blockade of Lambeth Bridge on Thursday, which shut the route off to traffic.

Australian police make several arrests over anti-lockdown protests

Police in the hard-hit Australian state of Victoria have made several arrests from a crowd of about 300 people who were protesting the coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne.

It came as the state reported 11 more deaths and 76 new infections, as the country’s overall death toll rose to 748.

The Melbourne restrictions, which include a night curfew, were put in place in an attempt to reduce a spike in infections and deaths.

Police had urged people to adhere to restrictions on community movement but four men were arrested and charged with incitement over the so-called “Freedom Day” protests planned for several Melbourne locations.

Police, many of them on horseback, later made a number of arrests among protesters.

Government officials are expected to announce on Sunday how and when they will ease restrictions in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

African religious leaders grow frustrated with coronavirus restrictions

Religious leaders in parts of Africa have said they are worried that the coronavirus pandemic could see them losing followers and funding due to restrictions on gatherings.

In countries such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe, leaders have been speaking out against health restrictions which they have warned could lead to a crisis of faith.

“Uganda is a God-fearing nation but, unfortunately, due to the lockdown, the citizens of our great country cannot gather to seek God’s intervention,” Betty Ochan, leader of the opposition in Uganda’s national assembly, recently wrote in the local Daily Monitor newspaper. 

“The devil is taking dominance. If people do not worship God together, they are spiritually derailed.”

Meanwhile, Chris Oyakhilome, president of a Lagos-based megachurch in Nigeria, said he was “appalled” by restrictions on how long people could spend in church.

Church services in Nigeria resumed last month but are limited to an hour, a test for some people in a country where worship can spill from a Sunday morning into the afternoon.

In South Africa, which has recorded roughly half of the continent’s 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus infections, the pandemic has challenged people’s relationship with their faith, according to Mosa Sona, bishop at Grace Bible Church in Soweto.

“Am I a believer that practices his faith in the midst of a crowd, at a building called a church, or does it matter when I am all alone at home?” Mr Sona, whose church was among the first to stream sermons online, said.

The “overall levels of religious commitment” in sub-Saharan Africa are among the highest in the world, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Centre.

The region’s number of Christians grew from about 7 million in 1900 to 470 million by 2010, when it was home to 21 per cent of the world’s Christians and 15 per cent of all Muslims.

“Coming together is very important from an African point of view,” Christopher Byaruhanga, a professor of systematic and historical theology at Uganda Christian University, said.

“We Africans want to live in a community. So the coronavirus is now redefining that community.”

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