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Keep Protesting Against Racism But Wear Masks: World Health Organization

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The World Health Organization (WHO) chief on Monday encouraged those protesting against racism around the world to do things safely, including keeping a safe distance from others, cleaning hands, covering coughs, and wearing masks if at protests.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the thrice-weekly video press conference that the organization “fully supports” equality and the global movement against racism.

“We reject discrimination of all kinds,” said Tedros, noting, “We encourage all those protesting around the world to do so safely.”

Tedros said that almost seven million cases of Covid-19 had been reported to WHO, along with nearly 400,000 deaths.

“Although the situation in Europe is improving, globally, it is worsening,” said the WHO chief.

He said more than 100,000 cases had been reported on nine of the past 10 days. On Sunday, more than 136,000 cases were reported, the most in a single day so far.

Almost 75 percent of yesterday’s cases come from 10 countries, mostly in the Americas and South Asia. Weekend protests erupted in cities around the world, such as Athens, Berlin, Cape Town, London, Paris, Brussels, Rotterdam, Sydney, and in the United States, to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

They were protesting the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white police officer in the US state of Minnesota.

In London and other places as well as in US cities such as New York, there were reports that protestors did not adhere to WHO recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks.

“As much as possible, keep at least one meter (3.2 feet) from others, clean your hands, cover your cough and wear a mask if you attend a protest,” said Tedros.

“We remind all people to stay home if you are sick and contact a health care provider.”

The WHO chief also encouraged countries to strengthen fundamental public health measures that remain the basis of the response to the novel coronavirus. “Find, isolate, test and care for every case, and trace and quarantine every contact,” he reiterated.

Tedros said that so far, WHO has shipped more than 5 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to 110 countries. It is also shipping more than 129 million items of PPE to 126 countries, he said.

Meanwhile, the fired Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for minutes on end last month made his initial court appearance Monday on charges related to the death of the handcuffed black man.

Derek Chauvin appeared via video link due to the coronavirus pandemic. Judge Jeannice Reding set Chauvin’s bail at $1 million with conditions or $1.25 million without them. The conditions reportedly cover a wide set of activities, including requiring the former officer to appear at all additional court sessions, not working in security or law enforcement, and not having a firearm.

Chauvin is next expected in court on June 29. Bystander footage of the arrest appears to show Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe before the victim lost consciousness during the fatal May 25 arrest.

Keith Ellison, the attorney general of the Midwestern state of Minnesota, upgraded charges against Chauvin last week after taking the lead on the prosecution days prior. Chauvin now faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

He also charged the three other officers who were on the scene with aiding and abetting. All four officers are in custody after being fired the day after Floyd’s death.

The public uproar over Floyd’s death triggered protests against police brutality and racism throughout the US and around the wider world.

A majority of Minneapolis’ City Council said Sunday they favor disbanding the city’s police force after striking a deal on Friday with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to ban chokeholds and the use of neck restraints as policing tactics.

It also requires police to halt and report any instances where fellow officers violate the policy.

Philippines News Agency

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