GENEVA – South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said yesterday that Africa affirms its “full support” for the World Health Organisation (WHO), which he said had been key in guiding the international response to the coronavirus pandemic.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Reuters

Ramaphosa, speaking to the WHO’s annual assembly being held online, said assistance to Africa needs to include debt relief and help with diagnostics, drugs and medical supplies.

Also addressing the meeting, the United States’ secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar, accused the WHO of having failed to share information on the virus outbreak in time.

“There was a failure by this organisation to obtain the information that the world needed, and that failure cost many lives,” Azar said.

Without naming China, he said: “In an apparent attempt to conceal this outbreak, at least one member state made a mockery of their transparency obligations, with tremendous costs for the entire world.”

He added: “We saw that WHO failed at its core mission of information sharing and transparency when member states do not act in good faith. This cannot ever happen again.”


SEOUL – One of South Korea’s top football clubs apologised yesterday after being accused of using sex dolls to fill empty seats at a weekend game.

Some of the “premium mannequins” at FC Seoul’s match. Photo: AFP

FC Seoul insisted the mannequins – used in the absence of fans, who are banned because of the coronavirus – had “no connection to sex toys”.

But some of the artificial spectators, deployed for a game of the club on Sunday, wore T-shirts with the logo of SoloS, a sex toy seller.

Other mannequins, which wore face masks and were separated according to social distancing guidelines, held placards advertising the company and some of its models. Most of them were female, and some were male.

FC Seoul said the company which provided the mannequins had previously provided them to SoloS, hence the advertising in which they were clad.

“We are sincerely sorry for causing deep concern to fans,” FC Seoul said in a statement, following uproar from fans and media. “We have confirmed from the very beginning that they had no connection to sex toys,” the club said. But fans were not convinced.

“I wonder how they even came up with this bizarre idea. This is an international disgrace,” said one online critic.

Another fan added: “FC Seoul turned its stadium into an X-rated zone.”

The South Korean football league’s new season kicked off on 8 May after being postponed for more than two months over the coronavirus pandemic, but fans remain barred.

Instead, clubs have used cardboard cut-outs, placards and banners to fill up the stands.

– Nampa-Reuters-AFP

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