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Lesotho’s PM isolating with Covid as cases ‘go unrecorded’ | Global development

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Lesotho’s prime minister, Moeketsi Majoro, has said he is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, as doctors warned that the true tally of cases in the country was going unrecorded.

Majoro tweeted that he had taken a travel-related test that came back positive.

He said: “May I advise anyone who has been in close contact with me recently to rush for PCR testing to ensure your safety.”

Majoro’s spokesman, Buta Moseme, said the prime minister would remain in quarantine at home, although he was not showing any symptoms.

He said Majoro’s oxygen saturation and other tests were satisfactory and that the public should remain calm.

In the statement, Majoro said: “The important message is that even when you are vaccinated, you should still follow WHO and Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols at all times.

“Being vaccinated should not bring about reckless behaviour as an infected person can infect other people who are not vaccinated,” he said.

Lesotho, with a population of 2.1 million, has recorded more than 3,000 new Covid-19 cases from the start of May to 10 August. The virus has killed 391 people.

A doctor at a private clinic in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, is among those concerned that the National Covid-19 Secretariat is failing to gather data.

“In the last month alone, we have seen over 100 patients who are Covid-19 positive but the secretariat has never collected our data,” he told the Guardian.

Lesotho had only received 36,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine until July, when the US delivered 302,400 Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The government has started to administer the doses, and a further 108,000 have since been delivered. The last batch was procured using $1m (£700,000) donated by the Vodacom Foundation to Lesotho in April.

While the vaccines are welcome, medical staff have said the government is not doing enough to persuade an indifferent public to get vaccinated.

The lack of information has also been blamed for the slow progress in testing and vaccine rollout. Just over 140,000 tests have been conducted, as of 10 August, and more than 13,000 have been positive so far.

“People have no information and they are relying on social media. This means they are not getting accurate and reliable information and this is why there is so much apathy,” said a nurse who did not want to be identified.

“The public is hesitant because of social media conspiracies.”



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Belgium might close schools and cultural activities

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Today, Friday, Belgian governments are meeting again in order to decide on new Covid measures in order to stop the spreading of the virus as numbers are spiking. This time the concertation committee is gathering on the request of the Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon who suggested to close down all indoor events, including all concerts and theatre productions. The closing of schools is also on the agenda.

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El Salvador ‘responsible for death of woman jailed after miscarriage’ | Global development

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The Inter-American court of human rights has ruled that El Salvador was responsible for the death of Manuela, a woman who was jailed in 2008 for killing her baby when she suffered a miscarriage.

The court has ordered the Central American country to reform its draconian policies on reproductive health.

The decision on Tuesday marked the first time an international court has ruled on El Salvador’s extreme abortion laws and was celebrated by women’s rights activists, who believe it could open doors for change across the region.

Since 1998, abortion in El Salvador has been banned without exception, even in cases of rape and incest. Over the past two decades, more than 180 women have been jailed for murder for having an abortion after suffering obstetric emergencies, according to rights groups.

The case of Manuela v El Salvador was brought after the 33-year-old mother of two from the countryside died from cancer after receiving inadequate medical diagnosis and treatment, leaving her two children orphaned. She had been serving a 30-year prison sentence for aggravated homicide after a miscarriage.

When Manuela – whose full name has never been made public in El Salvador – went to the hospital after miscarrying, staff failed to provide her with timely treatment and instead subjected her to verbal abuse and accused her of having an abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Manuela was handcuffed to her bed and denied access to a lawyer while police interrogated her.

“There is no doubt that Manuela suffered an obstetric emergency,” the landmark court ruling stated. “Such situations, as they are medical conditions, cannot lead to a criminal sanction.”

The court also ruled that the state must pay reparations to Manuela’s family, and should develop comprehensive sexual education policies and guarantee doctor-patient confidentiality.

“The Inter-American court has done justice by recognising Manuela was another victim of an unjust legal context that originates in the absolute prohibition of abortion,” said Morena Herrera, at the Feminist Collective for Local Development, one of the parties in the case supporting Manuela’s family.

“Manuela’s story is a sad one, but it represents a change and becomes a path of justice and hope for all women in Latin America and the Caribbean who are criminalised for obstetric events.”

Most countries in the region respect the Inter-American court’s jurisdiction, opening the door for sweeping change, activists said.

“This is a huge advance for reproductive rights, not only in El Salvador but across Latin America,” said Catalina Martínez Coral, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights, another party in the case. “This is a standard we can apply to the constitutions and states across the region.”

Martínez Coral added that while the ruling was to be celebrated, the issue of poverty affecting access to reproductive rights remained a challenge.

“There are over 180 cases of women in jail, or that have been jailed, over these issues,” said Martínez Coral, who also worked as a litigator on the case against the Salvadorean state.

“What that means is we’re dealing with a state that criminalises women and, above all, criminalises poor women in the most rural and impoverished areas,” she said.

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EU commission unveils proposal to digitalise justice systems

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The European Commission unveiled on Wednesday a proposal to digitalise EU cross-border justice systems, aiming at making them more accessible and effective. Under the new draft law, the EU executive wants to tackle inefficiencies affecting cross-border judicial cooperation and barriers to access to justice in cross-border cases. Shifting paper-based communications to electronic formats would save up to €25m per year across the EU in postage and paper costs.

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