An overwhelmed Italian city at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday sent more of its dead to nearby towns for cremation as the country’s world-leading toll topped 8,000.
Officials in Rome reported 662 new deaths and 6,153 infections — largely in line with the figures reported throughout the week.
The rise in daily deaths edged down to the lowest point in the crisis — 8.8 percent — while the infection rate stood at around eight percent for the fourth day running.
But the numbers are not dropping much further and Italians appear to be coming to terms with the realisation that two weeks of life under lockdown have not made the disease go away.
“Until we see this damn rate drop, we will have to continue making very hard sacrifices,” deputy civil protection service chief Agostino Miozzo said in reference to the ever-tightening containment measures.
Italy’s coronavirus death toll now stands at 8,165 — more than that of second-placed Spain and China, where the virus emerged in December, combined.
‘Crematoriums could not cope’
The endless flood of victims forced the city of Bergamo at Italy’s northern epicentre of the pandemic to send still more bodies to less burdened crematoriums in neighbouring towns.
An AFP photographer saw six camouflage green army trucks transporting coffins out of a Bergamo cemetery on Thursday.
“The large number of victims has meant that Bergamo’s crematorium could not cope on its own,” mayor Giorgio Gori said in a statement released to AFP.
The mayor said the city had also received 113 urns with the ashes of bodies that had been sent out for cremation earlier this week.
The bodies in the city of about 120,000 people are literally piling up.
A warehouse in the commune of Ponte San Pietro on Bergamo’s western outskirts held 35 freshly-made wooden coffins Thursday that were destined for cremation at a later date.
Still more coffins filled a barren church hall in the Seriate commune to Bergamo’s east.
A priest said a quiet prayer over the rows of coffins and a single red rose rested atop one in the otherwise empty room.
Yet the Italian government is just as anxious about the northern crisis spilling over into the far less developed south.
The head of the Campania region that includes Naples warned of a “dramatic explosion” of infections based on this week’s trends.
“The next 10
days will be hell for us,” governor Vincenzo De Luca said in an open letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
The number of officially registered deaths in Campania — Italy’s third-most-populous with nearly six million people — rose from 29 on Sunday to 83 on Thursday.
But no southern region has recorded more than 100 coronavirus fatalities to date.
Italy’s latest figures confirm that COVID-19 overwhelmingly kills the elderly and the sick.
Data from Italy’s first 5,542 fatalities show that 98.6 percent of the victims already suffered from at least one ailment or pre-existing condition.
Slightly over half had three or more other health problems when they died.
Only 29.1 percent of the victims were women. The disparity has been observed elsewhere and still puzzles doctors around the world.
The average age of victims was 78 — a fraction lower than the 78.8 reported last week based on the first 3,200 deaths.
But Italian virologist Roberto Burioni said the figures were “not particularly reliable” because the country was primarily testing people who already exhibited flu-like symptoms.
Italy’s death rate among the confirmed COVID-19 cases — 10.1 percent — was thus much higher than in countries with broad-based testing such as South Korea.
Extension Services Providers Gradually Resume Training of Farmers while Adhering to COVID-19 Safety Measures
Extension agents working under the Justice Development and Peace Movement (JDPM), Oyo and the University of Agriculture Makurdi (UAM) have concluded plans to resume training activities previously halted by the COVID-19 lockdown across the country under a cautious regime. The training activities will adhere strictly to the rules on physical distancing set by the country on COVID 19, coordinators from JPDM and UAM have said.
The two organizations are partnering with the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for the dissemination of the AKILIMO decision support tools to farmers in Oyo State and Benue State. AKILIMO is an all-in-one agronomic advisory tool developed by ACAI that supports cassava growers with knowledge and recommendations to intensify their cassava-based cropping systems.
Both JDPM and UAM commenced full dissemination activities in 2019 and have so far covered dozens of rural communities and local government areas in the two states; gathering farmers at their homes, village squares, under trees, community schools, and churches. Using battery-powered mobile projectors, videos, and other paper-based tools developed by ACAI, the organizations (through their extension networks) are teaching farmers best weed control methods, safe use of herbicides, and best planting practices in cassava-maize farming systems.
The training activities were however halted over a month ago following the outbreak of COVID-19 and lockdown measures put in place by the state and federal governments to curtail the pandemic in Nigeria.
But at separate meetings held recently at the JDPM office in Oyo and another in Benue, the extension agents resolved to resume training under COVID 19 regulations set by the government to ensure that cassava farmers were armed with best-bet weed control and planting techniques as the farming season begins.
Godwin Atser, IITA, and ACAI Digital Extension and Advisory Services Specialist, who was present at the meeting in Oyo, commended the extension agents for the work they did before the lockdown. He stated that “recommencing the training at this time is a humanitarian gesture to farmers to enable them to avert hunger and cushion the effects of the looming economic recession.”
The trainings will be conducted based on government COVID-19 safety rules and regulations which allow a limited number of persons to gather while maintaining a physical distance.
Other safety measures harped upon at the meeting included the proper washing of hands and compulsory use face masks by trainers and trainees at every training event. Farmer Field days which are to come up soon will also be conducted under COVID 19 rules.
Godwin, who expressed his appreciation to the extension agents for their hard work and cooperation towards the success of the ACAI project, stressed the need to follow up on farmers who have been trained and have adopted the intervention in order to serve as points of reference to others.
The meeting, which used its sitting arrangement to illustrate how the extension agents could ensure social distancing at their training venues, also made plans for advocacy visits to community and local government leaders to ensure the sustainability of the project.
At the end of the parley, safety kits (nose masks, hand wash, buckets with water taps) were distributed to all the extension agents present.
Also present at the meeting were the JDPM coordinator, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Adeleke and the dissemination project leader for JDPM, Mr. John
ONE YEAR IN OFFICE: Makinde gives account in state broadcast
Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, said, on Friday, that his administration has completed 307 projects in the education sector, while 236 others are on-going, within its first year in office.
“We have renovated and rehabilitated roads and started a Zero Pothole Policy for our roads, first in Ibadan, and this will be expanded to other towns.
According to the governor, the administration has, in one year, kept up with the promise of prompt payment of salaries and pensions for civil and public servants on the 25th of every month and sometimes, earlier, as well as ensuring the payment of more outstanding gratuities for retired civil servants in the past one year than the previous administration paid in eight years.
“With the Oyo State Financial Crimes Commission Act 2019 in place, you can be assured of transparency and accountability in all our transactions. You will recall that we initiated and signed that bill into law.”
The governor also took time to explain why the administration has been unable to meet its promise on Ikere Gorge Dam, saying that though the administration had high hopes to boost fishery, the dam has been given to private concessionaires by the Federal Government.
He assured that the state was already in discussions with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to ensure that Oyo State’s interest is factored into the arrangement.
Oyo federal lawmaker, Akande-Sadipe wades into contractor, community crisis
Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe, representing Oluyole Federal Constituency has waded into a misunderstanding between the contractor, handling Olomi-Olodo-Ijebuigbo road, D.C Engineering Ltd. and the Olojuoro Road Joint community forum, in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
Frosty relations between D.C Eng. Ltd. and the Joint Community Forum, housing no fewer than fourteen (14) communities took a twist when Executives of the Forum wrote series of petitions against the Firm to Federal Ministry of Works and Transport, Abuja and the House of Representatives accusing it of refusal to speed up work on the deplorable road and constructing narrow drainages that could cause erosion in the community among other allegations.
The petition attracted the attention of the lawmaker, Akande-Sadipe, who immediately scheduled and held a round table meeting with the aggrieved parties.
At the peace meeting held on Thursday, May 28, 2020, at Olomi, Ibadan, Hon. Akande-Sadipe, who is also the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, promised her unwavering support and backing to guarantee the speedy completion of the road, which she described as one of the foremost projects on her checklist.
She noted that the essence of the meeting was to find essential solutions to the brewing misunderstanding between the community and the firm on site and ensure the road which has been under construction in the Community since 2018 becomes motorable before 2023.
She also promised to scrutinize the Engineering firm handling the site’s Bill of Quantity, scope of work and contractual agreement signed with the Federal Ministry of Works, Abuja.
This, she said would bring her up to speed with happenings about the road and ensure the firm executes the job according to the agreed terms with Federal Government.
“We will ensure we look into the scope of work being executed by D.C Engineering Limited and address every form of dissatisfaction listed by the Community in their petition, which was made available to our office”, she said.
Akande-Sadipe, however lauded DC Engineering ltd. and Olojuoro-road Joint Community Forum for agreeing to resolve the ‘crisis’, which she noted was in the best interest of all stakeholders.
While Akande-Sadipe assured the Community that the firm would not shy away from its responsibility in delivering a motorable road to the community.
“Participating in dialogues with concerned parties would fast help us on this issue. I got to know about the community’s petition, because my office was copied. While I commend the community for agreeing to meet at this roundtable meeting, I assure you that D.C Eng. Ltd would play its part in ensuring this road sees the light of the day”.
Representative of D.C Engineering ltd. Engr. Obafemi Olusola expressed the company’s readiness to adjust and intensify efforts at speedily providing access to the long-awaited infrastructure, noting that this has always been the cardinal policy of the company.
Also commmenting, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed, who spoke on behalf of Olojuoro road Joint Community Forum, described Akande-Sadipe as a responsive Representative and appreciated her concerted efforts.
He also expressed hopes that with her intervention, the road would soon be completed.
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