Nigerian police have reportedly opened fire on protesters in Lagos after 12 days of demonstrations against police brutality.
Two people are believed to have been shot after more than 20 officers started shooting at demonstrators in the city’s Lekki district on Tuesday, witnesses told Reuters.
State officials have already imposed a 24-hour curfew on the 20 million people who live in Lagos – Africa’s largest city – in a bid to bring the protests to an end.
But the demonstrations, against a unit of the Nigerian police force called SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad), show little sign of slowing down.
SARS was established in 1992 to tackle robbery, kidnappings and other violent crime, but has been widely criticised for human rights abuses including torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
Nigerians claim plain clothes police officers frequently target young men with tattoos, dreadlocks and expensive cars arbitrarily.
The recent demonstrations began on 8 October after a video that allegedly showed SARS officers shooting a man in Nigeria‘s Delta State was widely shared on social media.
They caught the world’s attention after celebrities, including Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, actor John Boyega and footballer Marcus Rashford, condemned brutality and corruption in Nigeria.
With thousands taking to the streets and blockading Lagos’s main road to the international airport, the marches have grown into a wider movement about poor governance and corruption.
Fifteen people are thought to have died as a result of the protests and anti-riot police were deployed this week after a police station was set on fire.
Initially, police responded with tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters – but later promised not to use force.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has offered a series of concessions in an attempt to quell the disturbances, pledging comprehensive reform and compensation to the victims of any brutality by officers.
The police announced that a new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team would “fill the gaps arising from the dissolution of the defunct SARS”.
But the new unit has been dismissed by protestors, who say the government has failed to deliver on its promises in the past.
This feeling of national discontent has now spread to the country’s federal parliament, with the speaker of the lower chamber, Femi Gbajabiamila, saying he would not sign off on the national budget for 2021 unless it incorporated provisions to compensate victims of police brutality over the past two decades.
The government has called on the protesters to leave the streets, arguing that it has now met their demands.
There have also been economic implications, with the Lagos chamber of commerce reporting that the Nigerian economy has taken a hit of nearly £1.55bn ($2bn) as a result of the disruption.
An intensive care specialist in Belgium’s worst-hit COVID-19 region has told Sky News he fears the moment when the hospital is full and he has to choose who will live and who will die.
Dr Laurent Jadot says the situation has become so bad that many people are now calling it “the new Lombardy”, in reference to the part of Italy which suffered the mostduring the first wave of the pandemic crisis.
He works at CHC Montlegia, which has one of the largest intensive care units in the city of Liege at the heart of the southern region of Wallonia – where hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of coronavirus patients.
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April – Special Report: Into The Red Zone
All the beds currently set aside for COVID-19 patients on the unit are full, and Dr Jadot says he fears having to make agonising decisions.
“What I fear is the moment when the hospital is full of patients and we have to choose which patient is able to survive and which patient is not,” he told Sky News.
“Actually when I’m in my bed, when I am thinking about that, that’s what I don’t want.”
On glass door after glass door in the corridor where we talk, there are large orange signs saying “COVID Confirmed”.
Inside each room we see the patients attached to ventilators, lying on their stomachs to help them breathe.
Or in the case of one young patient in their 20s, sitting upright in a chair.
As we pass one room, we see an agonising scene.
A patient is close to death. Family members press their faces to the window as their loved one passes away, unable to be in the room in those final moments.
Dr Jadot says many more families will go through the heartbreak of COVID-19. Cases are rising fast across the generations.
“In Liege, there are up to 25% of positive tests currently for all people who come to be tested,” he said.
“So one in four tests is positive. And therefore, in view of the rate of contamination over the last two or three weeks, we know that we are bound to have a wave of hospitalisations to what we are seeing in contamination figures.”
He says more ICU beds will have to be created, but like in other hard-hit cities across Europe, finding nurses and medical staff to help cope will be a major pressure.
Belgium’s health minister has warned the country is approaching a “tsunami” of COVID-19– and a point may come when the government is unable to control what is happening.
All of which will sound alarm bells for the UK, which is a few weeks behind Belgium when it comes to coronavirus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has cited Belgium as a model to look to for its handling of the virus.
But it is now seeing 10,000 cases a day and the health professionals are scared of what may be in front of them in the coming weeks.
At an ambulance station in Liege, Red Cross paramedics disinfect their vehicles after transporting suspected COVID-19 patients to hospital.
The teams are operating COVID-only ambulances to help with pressure on the health service.
One paramedic, Luca Amato tells us they are seeing more younger patients in this second wave of COVID, including children. The current situation makes him very worried.
He said: “Our main concern is this influx of people that we’ve been seeing for about a week. It has doubled or even tripled. This is proof that this influx continues and that we are in under extreme conditions.”
He is pessimistic that recent restrictions in Belgium, including a night-time curfew and limits on social contact, will make enough of a difference.
“Unfortunately nothing can be done about it and I think it will continue. It’s these worries that are the first thoughts that enter our heads,” he added.
Those worries are shared by medical staff in hospitals across Wallonia. They are bracing themselves for how that will translate into hospital admissions in the coming weeks.
When Evelyn Wu heard she could get a COVID-19 vaccine, she jumped at the chance – even though it hasn’t been scientifically proven.
“I felt excited actually,” she told Sky News. “It’s just like a normal vaccine.”
The 20-year-old is an economics student at the University of Birmingham and wants to return there in January.
So, as soon as she heard a coronavirus vaccine was available, she went to the hospital in Yongkang, eastern China, last Monday to register. Two days later, she had her appointment.
“I needed to sign some contract. It has the details about COVID-19. And it told me that it’s very safe, even though it’s only stage 3.”
Ms Wu signed the form acknowledging that she might experience some mild symptoms and promptly received the first of two doses of the vaccine. In total she will pay 456 RMB – about £52.
The vaccine is made by Sinovac, a Beijing-based biotech company. The company is still carrying out late stage trials in Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia, and has said it could publish preliminary phase 3 trial data in November.
That means it hasn’t met the typical safety and efficacy standard for vaccine development – but China has still cleared it for emergency use, saying it had support from the WHO.
“Yes, I’m a little worried about [it being] experimental stage 3,” Ms Wu told Sky News.
“And I think I was the one who was the test subject, the one who was treated like a little mouse.”
Ms Wu said she felt no side effects, apart from a little sleepiness. The hospital will not monitor her directly but she has been told to visit immediately if she develops any symptoms.
And for Ms Wu, government approval is more important than scientific.
“I trust China and I think it’s totally safe to get vaccinated. I trust the government.”
Others have been less trusting, according to Ms Wu. She says that, last month, the government asked doctors and teachers whether they would like to take the vaccine too.
“But some doctors and some teachers refused to make the vaccination. They think it’s dangerous because they think they are being tested, ” she told Sky News.
“They don’t want to be the volunteer to get the experimental vaccine.”
Starting in July, thousands of employees from Chinese state-owned enterprises have already received the vaccine ahead of foreign travel.
But this new campaign is extending that offer to the general public, in a handful of cities and towns, with some restrictions. Volunteers must be aged 18-59 and be a local resident.
Health authorities in Zhejiang province, in east China, have published notices advertising the vaccine. Priority is given to medical workers, people working at border and quarantine centres, public sector workers travelling to mid to high risk COVID-19 areas, and then those who want to take the vaccine. Ms Wu had to show her university identity documents as proof of her intention to travel.
It is not quite a full roll-out yet. One health clinic in Jiaxing, a city in the same province which has advertised the vaccine, told Sky News it was waiting for doses to arrive but that people could sign up in the meantime.
But taking an experimental vaccine brings risk. Phase 3 trials of competing UK and US vaccines, by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, were temporarily halted after participants fell seriously ill. No such incidents have been publicly recorded by Chinese companies.
And Ms Wu isn’t put off by those interruptions to testing. “I don’t think we’ll have the same problem,” she said. “Because they’re totally different experiments I think. China uses different ways to treat the pandemic.”
She will have her second dose of the vaccine in November – the hospital recommended a gap of 14-28 days between doses. On her return to the UK, she says she will still wear a face mask, observe social distancing and wash her hands thoroughly.
But the vaccination has brought her mother, who insisted she escape the UK back in March, some peace of mind.
“She is happy for me to have the vaccination,” she told Sky News. “Because she thinks I am brave. I make an example for others.
“Because there is an old saying, the first one to eat the crabs is the most brave, right?”
Up to a million tonnes of fishing gear is left in the ocean each year, creating “deadly” marine debris for wildlife, WWF has warned.
A report by the conservation organisation said “ghost gear” of lost, abandoned or broken nets, lines and ropes makes up at least 10% of marine litter with fishers unable to locate or retrieve it or discarding it to conceal illegal fishing activities.
It claimed marine debris affects two-thirds of marine mammals, such as porpoises, half of seabirds and all species of sea turtles.
Across all species, ghost gear is the most likely to prove lethal – with many creatures dying slow, painful deaths tangled up in old nets or lines, the conservation group warned.
And when it is made of plastic, it takes decades to break down, with its harmful effects lasting long after it has been lost from the fishing vessel.
The WWF is calling for more governments to join leaders from 40 countries who are supporting a new UN treaty on marine plastic pollution, and for it to include effective measures to control ghost gear.
Sarah Young, head of marine policy at WWF, said: “Our ocean is the unsung hero in the fight against the climate crisis. The planet would today already be 35C hotter without the ocean to protect us.
“But the ocean cannot protect us if we do not protect it in turn, and currently nature is in freefall.
“By polluting our waters with plastic such as ghost gear, we are destroying wildlife and vital marine habitats that could help us tackle climate change.
“To truly protect both marine life and human life we must put ocean recovery into action, and ensure fishing practices are climate- and nature-positive.”
A Defra spokesperson said: “Lost, abandoned or discarded fishing gear can cause tremendous damage to some of our most precious and fragile marine life.
“As an active member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, we encourage other nations to join and are working internationally to address the problem of ghost gear.”
Ghislaine Maxwell has lost a legal battle to keep details about her personal life with Jeffrey Epstein from being used in her upcoming trial.
A court in Manhattan has ruled that Maxwell’s testimonies in a civil case brought by one of Epstein‘s accusers Virginia Roberts Giuffre can now be used in the criminal case against her.
Lawyers for Maxwell, 58, argued the evidence would compromise her ability to defend herself against the charges she faces.
But the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals decided on Monday that her arguments for keeping them private were meritless.
Ms Roberts Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she called her a liar.
The evidence in question consists of two testimonies Maxwell made in April and July of 2016 in relation to that lawsuit.
Now the court has ruled that seven hours of depositions and 2,000 pages of documents can be released ahead of Maxwell’s trial next July.
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In one of the depositions, the 58-year-old was asked whether Epstein had a scheme to recruit underage girls for sexual massages.
Maxwell responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Epstein killed himself aged 66 in prison last year while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to charges that she groomed underage girls for Epstein to engage in sexual activities with in the 1990s.
Sigrid McCawley, Ms Roberts Giuffre’s lawyer, described this week’s court ruling as an “important step towards vindicating the public interest in understanding the scope and scale of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring and the efforts made to conceal it”.