Although Africa reported its millionth official COVID-19 case last week, it seems to have weathered the pandemic relatively well so far, with fewer than one confirmed case for every thousand people and just 23,000 deaths so far. Yet several antibody surveys suggest far more Africans have been infected with the coronavirus—a discrepancy that is puzzling scientists around the continent. “We do not have an answer,” says immunologist Sophie Uyoga at the Kenya Medical Research Institute–Wellcome Trust Research Programme.
Other antibody studies in Africa have yielded similarly surprising findings. From a
survey of 500 asymptomatic health care workers in Blantyre, Malawi, immunologist Kondwani Jambo of the Malawi–Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme and colleagues concluded that up to 12.3% of them had been exposed to the coronavirus. Based on those findings and mortality ratios for COVID-19 elsewhere, they estimated that the reported number of deaths in Blantyre at the time, 17, was eight times lower than expected.
So what explains the huge gap between antibody data on the one hand and the official case and death counts on the other? Part of the reason may be that Africa misses many more cases than other parts of the world because it has far less testing capacity. Kenya tests about one in every 10,000 inhabitants daily for active SARS-CoV-2 infections, one-tenth of the rate in Spain or Canada. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, tests one out of every 50,000 people per day. Even many people who die from COVID-19 may not get a proper diagnosis.
But in that case, you would still expect an overall rise in mortality, which Kenya has not seen, says pathologist Anne Barasa of the University of Nairobi who did not participate in the country’s coronavirus antibody study. (In South Africa, by contrast, the number of excess natural deaths
reported between 6 May and 28 July exceeded its official COVID-19 death toll by a factor of four to one.) Uyoga cautions that the pandemic has hamstrung Kenya’s mortality surveillance system, however, as fieldworkers have been unable to move around.
Marina Pollán of the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, who led Spain’s antibody survey, says Africa’s youthfulness may protect it. Spain’s median age is 45; in Kenya and Malawi, it’s 20 and 18, respectively. Young people around the world are far less likely to get severely ill or die from the virus. And the population in Kenya’s cities, where the pandemic first took hold, skews even younger than the country as a whole, says Thumbi Mwangi, an epidemiologist at the University of Nairobi. The number of severe and fatal cases “may go higher when the disease has moved to the rural areas where we have populations with advanced age,” he says.
Jambo is exploring the hypothesis that Africans have had more exposure to other coronaviruses that cause little more than colds in humans, which may provide some defense against COVID-19. Another possibility is that regular exposure to malaria or other infectious diseases could prime the immune system to fight new pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, Boum adds. Barasa, on the other hand, suspects genetic factors protect the Kenyan population from severe disease.
More antibody surveys may help fill out the picture. A French-funded study will test thousands for antibodies in Guinea, Senegal, Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; results are expected by October. The studies will ensure good representation across populations, says Jean-François Etard from France’s Research Institute for Development, who is leading the study in Guinea jointly with a local scientist. And 13 labs in 11 African countries are participating in a
global SARS-CoV-2 antibody survey coordinated by the World Health Organization.
South Africa, meanwhile, plans to conduct a number of serological studies both in COVID-19 hotspots and the general population, says Lynn Morris, who leads the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases. She notes that antibody prevalence found in the study will likely be an underestimate of true infection rates, given that the virus doesn’t induce antibodies in some people and that antibody levels wane over time.
If tens of millions of Africans have already been infected, that raises the question of whether the continent should try for “herd immunity” without a vaccine, Boum says—the controversial idea of letting the virus run its course to allow the population to become immune, perhaps while shielding the most vulnerable. That might be preferable over control measures that cripple economies and could harm public health more in the long run. “Maybe Africa can afford it,” given its apparent low death to infection ratio, Boum says. ”We need to dig into that.”
But Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council, says it could be dangerous to base COVID-19 policies on antibody surveys. It’s not at all clear whether antibodies actually confer immunity, and if so, how long it lasts, Gray notes—in which case, she asks, “What do these numbers really tell us?”
Science’ s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.
confirmed & recovered cases
Coronavirus Data Dashboard
Number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 and number of people who already recovered. This map gets updated multiple times each day with
data by Johns Hopkins. To zoom, use the zoom buttons or hold CTRL while scrolling.
Finally also South-Africa has enough of the plandemic
Prologue: Tanzania is the Sweden of Africa and handled the crisis best, while South Africa rocked the boat, following the interests of the WHO. But from Sunday/Monday midnight - 21. September 2020 - South-Africa also scales down to their Level 1.
However the "obedience-masks" are still required and it is demanded that people have the COVID Tracking App in their phones.
The COVID curfew is scaled down to the time between 00h and 04h in the morning.
Social distancing and the compulsory desinfection of hands in public places are still required. Restaurant rooms etc. can be filled up to 50% of its normal capacity with a maximum of 250 persons inside. Outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 500 persons, except if it is a funeral - then only 100 people can attend. This shows that also South Africa is not yet free of the "Craziness-Virus" that affects mainly bureaucrats. administrators and politicians.
From 1. October travels are allowed, but each traveller must hold a NEGATIVE TEST document - not older than 72h.
Coronavirus: South Africa eases strict lockdown as cases drop
By BBC - 17. September 2020
- IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS South Africa went into a national lockdown on 27 March
South Africa, which had one of the world's earliest and strictest lockdowns, has announced a further easing of anti-coronavirus measures.
From 20 September an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50% of a venue's capacity, and alcohol will again be on sale.
"We have withstood the coronavirus storm,"
said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised address to the nation.
But rules on social distancing and mask-wearing will remain in place.
South Africa - which went into a national lockdown on 27 March - has so far reported more than 650,000 confirmed infections, with over 15,000 deaths.
However, the number of new cases has dropped from about 12,000 per day in July to fewer than 2,000.
What did President Ramaphosa say?
"Now is the time to return our country, its people and our economy to a situation that is more normal, that more resembles the lives that we were living six months ago," Mr Ramaphosa said.
"It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us."
The president announced that following consultations with health experts and officials from across South Africa, the country would lower its current alert Level 2 to Level 1 from midnight on 20 September.
This means that:
Social, religious, political and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue, up to a maximum of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors
The maximum number of people who can attend a funeral is increased from 50 to 100
Venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment - such as gyms and theatres - currently limited to 50 people, will be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue's capacity
The national 22:00 - 04:00 curfew will start two hours later
Alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments
South Africa shut its borders at the star of the lockdown, but President Ramaphose said that international travel would resume from 1 October. Those arriving in South Africa must present a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of travel.
Mr Ramaphosa also said that a further stimulus package was being drawn up to rebuild an economy that has been savaged by the lockdown.
The Exodus: Corona-Induced Urban-To-Rural Migration
City dwellers in Kenya are rushing to their rural homes in droves because of economic and social disruptions caused by coronavirus lockdowns and curfews. Many may never return to the city.
Dauti Kahura 03. September 2020
Eric Oduor was your archetypal suave, tech savvy, cosmopolitan millennial with an urban mien – well, until several weeks ago, when he called from Sigomre village in Ugenya location, Siaya County, to announce that he had now fully relocated to his rural home from Nairobi city. At only 37, recently married in the last five years, with two young children and working as an IT consultant, Oduor was every millennial’s dream: living in the fast lane, seeming to have been coping well with the city’s corporate rat race. Then coronavirus crisis struck and his life changed completely.
“In the five months that the pandemic hit Kenya, all my four major corporate clients that I used to maintain and service and offer IT solutions to closed shop. In one fell swoop, I was declared redundant; I suddenly had no income. My clients empathised with me, but said there was little they could do. They also had been hit hard (I didn’t need to be told), nobody saw the pandemic coming, nobody imagined it was here to stay. It has completely disrupted and disoriented our lives,” said Oduor.
With a young family that depended on him, Oduor found himself in a bind. Yes, his wife was in gainful employment, but the family was not going to rely on his wife’s salary and there was no the guarantee she would keep her job
“So I had to think doubly hard, what I wanted to do with my life, with my family in these very difficult coronavirus times and beyond. Even after the coronavirus is finally said to have been tamed, our lives will never be the same again, and life will never go back to normal as we used to know it.”
So, after thinking very hard, one evening, Oduor broke the tough news to his wife: “We can no longer sustain our lives in the city and this thing isn’t going away any time soon. We must brace for the future now. The sooner the better, and the only way to do that is by retracing our footsteps back home, because that is the only way we can salvage our lives. City life is proving to be unsustainable.” To his great relief and surprise too, his wife agreed with him and paved the way for him to go and conduct a reconnaissance mission in Sigomre village.
Oduor’s wife is thoroughly urbanised – trendy and younger…in every sense of the word, an urban sophisticate. Above all, she is from the Mt Kenya region, so one can understand why Oduor was a bit apprehensive as he broke the “sad” news to his wife.
“This COVID-19 has had a terrible impact on marriages. It has led some marriages to break up, so you can imagine what difficulties mixed marriages like mine could be going through. My wife agreed with me that our lives’ and our children’s future lay not in the big city, but ultimately in a place where we can develop to our taste and we can always be sure whatever the disruption, we could always absorb it because we’re truly at home,” said a relieved Oduor.
To his great surprise, it was not only he who was relieved: “My father was worried about this new mysterious disease that was sweeping the world like a mystical wave and which had arrived in the country and was claiming peoples’ lives in the city. In a roundabout way, he suggested to me to temporarily relocate the family and bring it home. In a way, many rural folks, including my parents, honestly believe the coronavirus is domiciled in the city. When it broke, my father told me leave and come back home.”
As if that was not enough of a worry, said Oduor, when he told his father that is consultancy jobs had actually dried up, his father became really concerned. “Ordinarily, it’s we children who normally take care of our folks in their rural home. Now my parents were sending foodstuff to my family to beef up our sustenance. He would send beans, dry maize, millet and posho-mill flour. When I went to see him to tell him I was moving my family back home, he was overjoyed. He said, ‘Look my son, at the very least, there’s plenty of food and shelter here. The children aren’t going to school until next year. It will give you time to think about what you would like to do here.”
Oduor’s father farms maize, keeps chickens, sheep and goats, and has dairy cows for milk,. After leaving the city himself five years ago for good, he never looked back. “In those five years, my father. who regularly came to the city, has only spent two nights in town since he left,” said Oduor. “He would come on the night bus, spend the whole day doing his
biasharas and in the evening, he would be on the night bus again heading home. I couldn’t persuade him to spend the night here. My father had always told me Nairobi is a place where people go to look for employment. Once that employment is over, you pack your things and return home where you came from.”
“Ordinarily, it’s we children who normally take care of our folks in their rural home. Now my parents were sending foodstuff to my family to beef up our sustenance…”
With his savings, Oduor is exploring several options: He had already built a two-bedroomed house on his piece of land given to him by his father, so, like his father said, food and shelter are not a problem. “If taken seriously and done well, agriculture is worth the risk because people will always eat. My father has become a full-time farmer and it’s been keeping him going. I’d like to take it further and see what will come of it, even as I explore other possibilities,” averred Oduor. That doesn’t mean that I will no longer be coming to the city. All it means is that the city has ceased to be the centre of our family’s life.”
Oduor could be the exception rather than the rule: It is unlikely that the majority of millennials will be migrating to their rural homes in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but he is certainly an aberration that might as well explain the extent to which disruptions, such as a global pandemic or even an economic meltdown, can lead people in cities to reevaluate their lives and consider their options.
Economist David Ndii remarked once that in Africa, people travel to and live light in the metropolis because many cities in Africa were not built with the natives in mind. Cities have remained colonial constructions alien to the indigenous people. The great lesson for many people then has always been that in the cities, you must always have a way out of a calamity or a disruption.
But really, it is because Africans never consider cities to be their proper dwellings? Cities are still transient places for a majority of Africans. Many African cities were built by and for the colonialists, who accepted indigenous people only as indentured or migrant labour. If you did not have a pass to enter the city, or work there, you would be arrested and fined.
To date many people who live in cities have one foot there, the other one in a rural area where their ancestors hailed from and what they call home. The idea of a city to many Africans, young and old, has always been a temporary one. Their annual exodus from the city to their respective rural homes during the Easter holiday and more so during the Christmas festive season explains this notion of the reverse urban-rural migration. It also explains, why rural areas become the refuge of city dwellers running away from city calamities and commotions be they, for instance the 1982 failed coup, the 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi, the general elections held after every five year cycle, and especially after the disputed presidential elections of 2007 that led to an explosion of violence in the Rift Valley region.
Economist David Ndii remarked once that in Africa, people travel to and live light in the metropolis because many cities in Africa were not built with the natives in mind. Cities have remained colonial constructions alien to the indigenous people.
Way before the coronavirus crisis came to bear on us, a millennial who owned an electronics shop at the famous Nyamakima area relocated back home to Murang’a County in 2018 after it become untenable to run his erstwhile lucrative business. “With the government’s crackdown on counterfeit goods, which we used to import from China, and the subsequent hoarding of our goods at the government warehouses in Industrial Area, I lost so much money, as did many other traders, that I decided to just leave Nairobi and go home.
Kaba kuinoka. I’m better off in my rural home,” said the trader.
No safety nets
“When President Uhuru Kenyatta reviewed the cessation of movement between counties on July 7, 2020, it was to allow people in Nairobi to leave town and transport their families back to their rural areas,” alleged a senior civil servant. “We (the government), knew people were suffering in the city. Many had lost their jobs, they couldn’t pay their rents, they couldn’t feed their children. Life had truly become a burden. It was going to be just a matter of time before the situation possibly blew out of hand. The government had to choose between facing a boiling agitation from the people, who would soon take it no more, or risk the very same people transporting coronavirus to the rural areas. Whichever option it took, it was the devil’s alternative.”
Many of these people worked as casual labourers, drivers or housekeepers or as waiters or waitresses in bars, restaurants and hotels. Or in the informal sector as hawkers, street vendors and merchandise traders. I know this because I am in a group that has been pooling resources to buy food for families that live where we grew up in Eastlands. With no gainful employment, yet mounting bills to pay, and no safety nets to fall back on as they would in their rural homes, many of these people just waited for the government to reconsider cessation so that they could take their families to their rural areas.
One of the big factors that drove Oduor out of Nairobi is the fact that he continued to pay rent for five months for a house he couldn’t call home and without an income. “That is money I can invest in a small project in the rural area,” he explained.
So that is why a family in Kawangware, after exhausting its reserves, went to a merchandise shop that sells and accepts second-hand goods and hawked their furniture in return for cash, which it would use to pay for transport for the long journey to western Kenya. Kawangware is a sprawling peri-urban area that was originally inhabited by the Kikuyu, but which is now dominated by Kenyans from the western region. The odd jobs the man of the house was doing had dissipated. With several mouths to feed, the man had no choice but to retrace his footsteps to his rural home.
A visit to “Machakos” Country Bus Station in downtown Nairobi revealed that people were travelling back home in droves, and accompanied by hordes of children and household goods – from wooden beds and mattresses to sofa sets and utensils. It was evident that many were not planning to return to the city in a hurry, if they would return at all. The many travellers I spoke to said life in the city had become unbearable and it was time to go back to their roots. “
Shule zilifungwa, hakuna kazi tunafanya nini huku? ” Schools have been closed, there’s no work, what are we doing in the city?
“Because of the curfew, buses are only leaving in the mornings,” explained Vincent Musa, one of the groundsmen at the station, which serves buses that travel all over upcountry. To possibly tame the spread of coronavirus, the government also instituted a curfew – first the curfew was between 5am – 7pm, later on the president revised it to 5am – 9pm. “Everyday buses have been leaving here between 6am – 10am in order to beat the curfew at 9pm. Many of the destinations of these buses take an average of seven to eight hours. Most of the people who have been travelling are women and children. Since the children are not going to school, it is pointless to keep them in Nairobi.”
“It is easier for the man to survive alone in the city,” said a man who was accompanied by his wife and children.
“Wacha waende nyumbani, mimi nitang’ang’ana na maisha hapa Nairobi.”I’m taking my family home, I will return to deal with the harsh city life.
Musa named for me nearly all the destinations that the people were travelling to: Ahero, Boro, Bungoma, Eldoret, Cheptais Chwele, Homa Bay, Kadel, Katito, Kendu Bay, Kimilili, Kisumu, Kisii, Kitale, Koguta, Luanda, Malaba, Maseno, Matunda, Moi’s Bridge, Mbita, Muhoroni, Ng’iya, Nyandorera, Olare, Rwambwa, Siaya, Urangu, Wagai and Webuye.
While at the station, I counted seven different bus companies that ferried people home: Climax Coaches, Eldoret Express, Greenline, Nairobi Bus Union, Nyar Ugenya and Nyamira Express. After coronavirus set in, many of these buses were grounded, and even though the lifting of the cessation had given the owners some reprieve, many are still grounded. “The bus capacity had been reduced. A bus that carried 67 passengers has now been restricted to 40 only. This reduction of passengers has meant that fares have had to be doubled,” said Musa.
Many of the fares to western Kenya ranged from between Sh600 and Sh800 before the pandemic. Now they are charging Sh1,400 or above to all destinations in Nyanza, Kisii and Transzoia. One bus to Kitale charges Sh1,750.
One of the big factors that drove Oduor out of Nairobi is the fact that he continued to pay rent for five months for a house he couldn’t call home and without an income. “That is money I can invest in a small project in the rural area,” he explained.
Majiwa, the supervisor told me the pandemic had been a wake-up call for many Kenyans. “Nairobi has never been a domicile for anybody – permanent or otherwise. I’m here because I still have work. The day they tell me I’m redundant, I’ll pack my things and head home. In Nairobi, you pay for everything, including going for ablution. In the rural area, food is plenty and free, children can never lack anything to eat. That’s why people are taking their children back home. Every morning 25 buses have been leaving here heading to western Kenya, packed with women and their children”.
There has been another reason why many parents from western Kenya living in Nairobi have been transporting their children back home in great numbers. “Once the government announced that schools will not reopen till January next year, circumcision rites for boys, which usually are conducted in the month of August and December, started early in July,” said Musa. “And these rites will go on till December non-stop.
Wacha watoto watengenezwe.” Let the boys get initiated now that they are not going to school. Circumcision for boys, especially among the Bukusu people who live in Bungoma, Kitale and around Mt Elgon area, is an elaborate affair.
Not since the scare of the terrorists’ bomb at the former US embassy, then located at the corner of Haile Selassie Avenue and Moi Avenue in Nairobi, has there been such a scare leading people to migrate to their rural homes. While the scale of the Al Qaeda bombing had never been witnessed before in Nairobi, it nonetheless never took people’s jobs, or cumulatively threatened their lives. People rightly reasoned that if they escaped the city to their rural homes, they would be safe
The current coronavirus scare is compounded by the fact that normal life has been completely disrupted, so there is a possibility that those leaving might never return. There is also the issue of people believing that COVID-19 is basically a city disease.
Dauti Kahura is a senior writer for The Elephant.
Africa’s Gathering Debt Storm
COBUS VAN STADEN - 02. September 2020
Felipe Trueba/Pool/Getty Images Without rapid and vastly increased external help to weather the COVID-19 storm and ease their debt-service burden, many African economies could collapse. This would directly affect the rich world in ways for which it is not prepared.
CAPE TOWN – The COVID-19 crisis is pushing Africa to the financial brink. African governments are under pressure to continue servicing their external loans, leaving them with few resources to confront a historic pandemic and its economic fallout. Without external support – specifically, a comprehensive repayment freeze – some African economies will buckle under their debt burden. The resulting domino effect could imperil the entire continent’s development and harm richer countries, too.
The international community’s response so far has been mixed. The most notable step so far – the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) for the world’s poorest countries – covers only official bilateral debt. But
61% of African DSSI countries’ debt-service payments this year will go to private creditors, bondholders, and multilateral lenders like the World Bank. And, despite the G20’s assurances, some countries joining the DSSI were subsequently downgraded by global ratings agencies.
The World Bank has played an unhelpful role here. Although its president,
David Malpass, recently The">called for expanded debt relief and even raised the possibility of a write-off, he has also resisted calls for the Bank itself (a major lender to Africa) to freeze debt repayments. Instead, the US-dominated institution seems more interested in scoring political points by urging the China Development Bank to join the G20 initiative, even though doing so would really affect only one African country.
Geopolitics are also derailing the promising option of a new allocation of the International Monetary Fund’s
Special Drawing Rights (its global reserve asset) in order to unlock extra liquidity. This initiative faces resistance from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which worries that some of the funds would flow to countries like Iran.
A major problem for Africa is that it now has significant private-sector debt. In May, a group of 25 of the continent’s largest private creditors was created, in consultation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The organization’s executive secretary, Vera Songwe, has been
pushing for Africa’s debt to be bundled into an instrument resembling a collateralized debt obligation, backed by an AAA-rated multilateral finance institution or a central bank. This would save countries time by quickly giving them a two-year repayment freeze in order to deal with the pandemic, without preventing them from tapping credit markets in the future to fund economic recovery.
But the private creditors
quickly rejected such blanket approaches, insisting that African countries’ debt needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. This risks wasting so much time that many countries could slide into default while they’re waiting, which would be especially galling in view of the large profits these creditors have made by chasing Africa’s sky-high yields.
Although none of these proposals is a magic bullet, Africa’s debt problem is not intractable. The continent’s debt-service payments in 2020 amount to
$44 billion. That is a lot of money, but it’s small change compared to the trillions of dollars that rich-country governments are pumping into their own economies.
Pious laments about how the “poorest countries will suffer the most” accompany the infighting among Africa’s creditors. This response assumes that while Africa’s distress is regrettable, it’s also far away, and the continent will quietly suffer in its corner. Today, such thinking is woefully naive.
Until early this year, many African economies had been growing robustly. Now, without external help to weather the COVID-19 storm, these countries could face economic collapse. This will directly affect the rich world in ways for which it is not prepared.
For China, the current debt crisis represents its biggest political setback to date in Africa. The continent’s economic value to China may have declined somewhat, but its political value as a
dependable bloc of votes in multilateral institutions is increasing. If Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins November’s US presidential election, China will face concerted pressure in those organizations. And although China has joined the G20’s DSSI in principle, its applicationremains piecemeal and opaque.
The political costs are mounting. China currently faces a chorus of debt-related disapproval in
Nigeria, both on social media and in the country’s House of Representatives. Nigerian politicians are calling for an audit of every Chinese loan to the country – an unprecedented move in China-Africa relations. If the economic and debt crisis worsens, this hostility will spread across the continent.
During previous hard times, African opposition parties
campaigned against the Chinese presence in their countries. Increased economic chaos may lead not only to an erosion of high-level African support for China in forums like the UN, but also to populist targeting of Chinese firms and citizens.
America’s engagement in Africa has a strong military and anti-terrorist component. US policymakers should thus be concerned that the Islamic State (ISIS) has recently
taken control of a port in Mozambique. Africa has a population of 1.2 billion, with an average age of 19. A continent of teenagers with no economic prospects will not be difficult to radicalize.
Europe is already dealing with the scandal of Greek authorities
abandoning African migrants, leaving them to die on the high seas. If African economies collapse, Europe will face an unprecedented migration crisis that dwarfs that of 2015, which almost triggered right-wing populist takeovers in several EU countries.
The cost of helping Africa to ride out this debt storm is minuscule, while the costs of not doing so are unimaginably huge. Many European Union member states have joined the DSSI, and they might support its extension when the G20 and the Paris Club of sovereign creditors reconvene
later this year. But avoiding nightmare scenarios will require innovation. All of Africa’s financial partners, including multilateral institutions, private creditors, and rich-country governments, must get together with UNECA and other African stakeholders to work out a broad solution, and fast.
COBUS VAN STADEN is a senior foreign policy researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. Writing for PS since 2018
sees at least five major obstacles, all of which have been raised higher by the COVID-19 crisis. DAMBISA MOYO
BBC continues to spread Corona fear in Africa with figures not shown in relation
No distinction between patients, who died due to COVID-19 or with other co-morbidities and just shown positive with one of the highly unreliable PCR tests for SARS-CoV-2
No explanation of the drastically increased testing and the inherently false positives or showing the relation to the number of patients, who show symptoms.
The systematically made mistakes that drove the agenda in Europe and the USA are now just repeated in Africa to eep the heat on, though most Africans were and are alreay immune to SARS-CoV-2
Africa coronavirus cases near 1.2 million mark
By BBC - 26. August 2020
ReutersCopyright: Reuters African nations are being encouraged to test for coronavirus more
African countries are closing in on 1.2 million coronavirus cases mark, according to an update by Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The centre tweeted that the cases are now at 1,196,710 with the deaths at 28, 014 and recoveries at 922, 833.
South Africa has the most cases at 611,450, followed by Egypt 97,478, Morocco 53,252, Nigeria 52,548, Ghana 43,622, Algeria 42,302, Ethiopia 42,143 and Kenya 32,803.
Southern Africa is the continent’s worst-hit region of the continent followed by northern Africa then the west. East and central Africa have recorded the least cases.
Africa CDC has been urging nations to be more aggressive in dealing with the pandemic, calling for more testing and contact tracing.
It recently launched an antibody testing drive to understand the magnitude of the virus infections in the continent.
First voices are demanding to kick the Pentagon bioweapons-grade laboratories out of East Africa
Biological Experiments are war crimes
Article 8 of
The Rome Statute of The International Criminal Court (ICC) defines biological experiments as war crimes. The US, however, is not a state party to the international treaty, and cannot be held accountable for its war crimes.
Activists put under arrest as they protest COVID funds' theft
Standard Team - 22. August 2020
Human rights activists address a Press conference at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, yesterday, in protest against Covid-19 billions' theft. They were teargassed and some arrested. [David Njaaga, Standard]
Police yesterday used teargas canisters to disperse groups of activists and arrested some as they protested the misuse of Covid-19 pandemic funds.
Those arrested were booked at Nairobi's Central police station, as the leaders from Amnesty International and Haki Africa rushed to their rescue.
One group of the protesters had gathered at Uhuru Park’s Freedom Corner to start the protest and demand accountability for the funds when anti-riot police arrived.
Another bunch had converged at Nairobi’s Jevanjee Gardens, but police dispersed them.
Central Police Station boss Mark Wanjala said the protests were illegal and went against the Ministry of Health set restrictions in managing the pandemic.
The protesters carried placards with various messages, condemning alleged theft of the funds. One of the placards read: “
Arrest Covid-19 thieves”.
So far, two key donors have threatened to withdraw funds running to billions of shillings earmarked for Kenya, following the latest Covid-19 scandal linked to a government agency.
The agencies, including United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and the Global Fund, have written to the government, expressing concern over alleged corruption.
Money Talks - Kenya suddenly gives in to vaccine trial offers amid IMF money injection:
Kenya among countries to participate in Covid-19 vaccine trial
Mireri Junior - 21. August 2020
Kenya is among the four African countries set to participate in the Covid-19 vaccine trial, African Special Envoy on Covid-19 and Director of African CDC Dr John Nkengasong has announced.
Speaking on Thursday during a virtual meeting of the African Union Bureau convened to discuss the continental response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Nkengasong said seven Covid-19 vaccine trials were nearing World Health Organisation (WHO) approval.
“Four African countries among them Kenya are participating in the clinical trials for these vaccines,” he told the meeting attended by heads of states.
Nkengasong said Africa targets to vaccinate 60 per cent of her population at an estimated cost of 10 to 15 billion USD once the Covid-19 vaccine becomes available.
In a report presented by Rwandan economist Donald Kaberuka and Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, the envoys applauded the IMF for being the most responsive bilateral institution to Africa's Coronavirus response.
Mr Kaberuka said the lender had injected a total of USD 23.5 billion into African economies in the last four months, followed by the World Bank (14.3 billion USD) and African Development Bank (700 million USD).
The former president of the African Development Bank said Covid-19 risks wiping out a decade of Africa's economic progress and warned that the next three to four years will be particularly tough for the continent.
Masiyiwa said a total of 51 countries had subscribed to the Africa Medical Supplies Platform. Among these nations are six Caribbean countries led by Barbados.
The platform, he said, has attracted 800 suppliers including eleven African manufacturers offering 600 products, including all key Covid-19 medicines recommended by WHO.
In his address, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Africa needs to elevate its global partnerships in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine so as to "ensure that African countries are not further marginalised but are positioned to be among first line of beneficiaries, once a breakthrough is made".
He commended the special envoys for their efforts in helping the continent deal with the health and socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19.
"The economic challenges we face require concerted multilateral effort, such as prioritising debt cancellation and Bretton Woods led relief package, that do not exacerbate emerging local challenges," he said.
President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and President Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) speaking on behalf of the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) emphasized on the need to ensure that Africa is not left behind in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine when ready.
Kenya has so far recorded 31, 441 positive cases after testing 407, 610 samples since March 12 when the first case was reported in the country.
ALSO THE SOUTH AFRICA HAD GIVEN IN TO THE CORRUPT DEALS NOW EXPOSED BY THE BELARUSSIAN GOVERNMENT
At $30 billion,
South Africa’s stimulus package is the largest relief effort in its history as the country struggles with almost 600,000 coronavirus cases. But the government’s efforts have been plagued by accusations of fraud and mismanagement.
Scientists still puzzled by low corona deaths in Africa
Linda Nordling | August 14th 2020
Although Africa reported its millionth official Covid-19 case last week, it seems to have weathered the pandemic relatively well so far, with fewer than one confirmed case for every thousand people and just 23,000 deaths so far.
Yet several antibody surveys suggest far more Africans have been infected with the coronavirus — a discrepancy that is puzzling scientists around the continent. “We do not have an answer,” says immunologist Sophie Uyoga at the Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.
After testing more than 3,000 blood donors, Uyoga and colleagues estimated in a preprint last month that one in 20 Kenyans aged 15 to 64 — or 1.6 million people — has antibodies to Sars-CoV-2, an indication of past infection.
That would put Kenya on a par with Spain in mid-May when that country was descending from its coronavirus peak and had 27,000 official Covid-19 deaths. Kenya’s official toll stood at 100 when the study ended. And Kenya’s hospitals are not reporting huge numbers of people with Covid-19 symptoms.
Other antibody studies in Africa have yielded similarly surprising findings. From a survey of 500 asymptomatic health care workers in Blantyre, Malawi, immunologist Kondwani Jambo of the Malawi–Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme and colleagues concluded that up to 12.3 per cent of them had been exposed to the coronavirus.
Based on those findings and mortality ratios for Covid-19 elsewhere, they estimated that the reported number of deaths in Blantyre at the time, 17, was eight times lower than expected. Scientists who surveyed about 10,000 people in the northeastern cities of Nampula and Pemba in Mozambique found antibodies to Sars-CoV-2 in three per cent to 10 per cent of participants, depending on their occupation; market vendors had the highest rates, followed by health workers.
Yet in Nampula, a city of approximately 750,000, a mere 300 infections had been confirmed at the time.
Mozambique only has 16 confirmed Covid-19 deaths. Yap Boum, a microbiologist and epidemiologist with Epicentre Africa, the research and training arm of Doctors Without Borders, says he found a high prevalence of Sars-CoV-2 antibodies in people from Cameroon as well, a result that remains unpublished.
So what explains the huge gap between antibody data on the one hand and the official case and death counts on the other? Part of the reason may be that Africa misses many more cases than other parts of the world because it has far less testing capacity.
Kenya tests about one in every 10,000 inhabitants daily for active Sars-CoV-2 infections, one-tenth of the rate in Spain or Canada. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, tests one out of every 50,000 people per day. Even many people who die from Covid-19 may not get a proper diagnosis.
But in that case, you would still expect an overall rise in mortality, which Kenya has not seen, says pathologist Anne Barasa of the University of Nairobi who did not participate in the country’s coronavirus antibody study.
In South Africa, by contrast, the number of excess natural deaths reported between May 6 and July 28 exceeded its official Covid-19 death toll by a factor of four to one.
Uyoga, however, cautions that the pandemic has hamstrung Kenya’s mortality surveillance system as fieldworkers have been unable to move around.
Marina Pollán of the Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid, who led Spain’s antibody survey, says Africa’s youthfulness may protect it. Spain’s median age is 45; in Kenya and Malawi, it’s 20 and 18, respectively.
Young people around the world are far less likely to get severely ill or die from the virus. And the population in Kenya’s cities, where the pandemic first took hold, skews even younger than the country as a whole, says Thumbi Mwangi, an epidemiologist at the University of Nairobi.
The number of severe and fatal cases “may go higher when the disease has moved to the rural areas where we have populations with advanced age,” he says.
Jambo is exploring the hypothesis that Africans have had more exposure to other coronaviruses that cause little more than colds in humans, which may provide some defense against Covid-19.
Another possibility is that regular exposure to malaria or other infectious diseases could prime the immune system to fight new pathogens, including Sars-CoV-2, Boum adds. Barasa, on the other hand, suspects genetic factors protect the Kenyan population from severe disease.
More antibody surveys may help fill out the picture. A French-funded study will test thousands for antibodies in Guinea, Senegal, Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; results are expected by October.
The studies will ensure good representation across populations, says Jean-François Etard from France’s Research Institute for Development, who is leading the study in Guinea jointly with a local scientist. And 13 labs in 11 African countries are participating in a global Sars-CoV-2 antibody survey coordinated by the World Health Organisation.
South Africa, meanwhile, plans to conduct a number of serological studies both in Covid-19 hotspots and the general population, says Lynn Morris, who leads the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
She notes that antibody prevalence found in the study will likely be an underestimate of true infection rates, given that the virus doesn’t induce antibodies in some people and that antibody levels wane over time.
If tens of millions of Africans have already been infected, that raises the question of whether the continent should try a “herd immunity” scenario without a vaccine, Boum says — the controversial idea of letting the virus run its course to allow the population to become immune, perhaps while shielding the most vulnerable.
That might be preferable over control measures that cripple economies and could harm public health more in the long run.
“Maybe Africa can afford it,” given its apparent low death to infection ratio, Boum says. “We need to dig into that.”
But Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council, says it could be dangerous to base Covid-19 policies on antibody surveys. It’s not at all clear whether antibodies actually confer immunity, and if so, how long it lasts, Gray notes — in which case, she asks, “What do these numbers really tell us?”
KENYAN COVID ATROCITIES
Macabre: Chiefs get caught up in sex case
Boniface Gikandi | July 16th 2020
Two assistant chiefs and a policeman in Tuthu village, Murang’a, are under investigations for allegedly demanding sexual favours from a minor they arrested for flouting Covid-19 regulations.
In the Tuesday incident, the trio survived mob justice and fled into the Aberdare Forest after they were allegedly caught with a 16-year-old girl they had arrested for not wearing a mask.
One of the assistant chiefs surrendered after his seniors, led by Kangema Deputy County Commissioner Agnes Karoki, visited the village following public outcry. A resident of Tuthu said the villagers followed the security men to the forest when they realised they had taken the minor there.
Residents said the minor was among several others who were chased by security officers from the Tuthu tea-buying centre for not wearing masks.
One of the assistant chiefs was reportedly caught red-handed defiling the minor as his colleague and a policeman kept guard.
“This has been happening for days and the locals decided to set a trap,” said a resident, who declined to be named.
The residents lit bonfires in protest, demanding the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
Karoki led a security committee in the village to the victim’s home for further investigations.
She said one assistant chief and the policeman have not been traced after they went into hiding. She added that the minor would be taken to Kangema district hospital for treatment and other tests.
“The police are investigating the matter after the girl was examined at the hospital,” said Karoki.
IMF “Economic Medicine” Contributes to Health Crisis in Africa: Shortage of Health Workers
Lawrence Freeman - 15. July 15 2020
As I have told my friends for many years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is incapable of helping nations grow their economies. I do not believe the IMF can point to any success story, where its policies led to improving the standard of living of the population. Their macro-monetarist ideology fails to understand the essential driver of real (not monetary) growth. Following IMF prescriptions usually results in more suffering for the victim nation. For a more in depth analysis read my article from last year: Africa Needs Real Economic Growth, Not IMF Accountants.
The report cited by the
ActionAid and Public Service International highlights the failure of the IMF: IMF Told Countries Facing Critical Health Worker Shortages to Cut Public Sector Wages. The statistics are revealing, but should not be shocking to those of us who study physical economics. Throughout its history we have seen the IMF insist on cuts to meet to macro-economic goal at the expense of the population. This report clearly pinpoints the effects of tying loans to cuts back in healthcare. Africa was suffering from an acute shortage of healthcare workers before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sub-Saharan Africa has the fewest physicians per 1,000 population and the lowest number of hospital beds per 1,000 population.
It was pointed out by Ethiopian Prime Minister,
Abiy Ahmed, earlier this year, that payments of debt service equaled or surpassed the amount of money nations spent on healthcare. He wrote “In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health.
African nations, or any country for that matter, should not be subjected to this kind of treatment. Human life is real and precious. Debt is merely a financial accounting mechanism. There is no equivalence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the failure of the world globalized financial system, which has been become decoupled from the real economy. Genuine economic growth uses credit to promote human life. President Franklin Roosevelt’s Bretton Woods system, in its perverted form, came to an end on August 15, 1971. For the last fifty years, the City of London-Wall Street centered financial system has become more corrupt each decade, serving the interest of a tiny few. Now is the time to launch a New Bretton Woods, dedicated to improve the conditions of life for all people of all nations. I will be writing more on this subject in the future.
Below are excerpts from the cited report:
“New analysis by ActionAid and Public Services International (PSI) reveals how International Monetary Fund (IMF)
austerity policies restricted critical public employment in the lead up to the Covid-19 crisis. (emphassis added)
“The analysis, released to mark
UN Public Service Day (23 June), shows that every single low income country which received IMF advice to cut or freeze public employment in the past three years had already been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as facing a critical health worker shortage.
“Key findings include:
Of the 57 countries last identified by the WHO as facing critical health worker shortages, 24 received advice from the IMF to cut or freeze public sector wages.
When countries are told to contain wage bills – it means fewer doctors, nurses and frontline workers in countries already desperately short of medics.
All but one of the 18 low-income countries advised by the IMF to cut or freeze public sector employment funding, are currently below the WHO’s recommended nurse-to-population threshold of 30 per 10,000.
The WHO predicts that these countries will experience a collective shortage of at least 695,000 nurses by 2030.
“ActionAid’s 2020 report
Who Cares for the Future: Finance Gender-responsive Public Services exposed the detrimental IMF loan conditions and austerity measures which have pushed 78% of low-income countries to plan for zero increase in public sector wages.
“When countries are told to contain wage bills it means fewer doctors, nurses and front line health workers in countries already desperately short of medics. This was a dangerous practice even before the Covid-19 pandemic and is unthinkable now.”
Read the full report:
IMF Told Countries Facing Critical Health Worker Shortages to Cut Public Sector Wages
The original source of this article is Copyright © Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com Lawrence Freeman, Global Research, 2020. This article was originally published on the author’s blog site, Africa and the World. Featured image is from Africa and the World
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The Effect of COVID-19 in Nairobi Low-Income Areas
The full extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis in Nairobi low-income areas is yet to be seen but as Juliet Atellah analyses, it will be important to track.
Juliet Atellah - 04. July 2020
Photo: Unsplash/Anshu A
At least 30 percent of low-income earners have lost their jobs since the Government of Kenya placed restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 reveals a recently published
The report, titled
Survey on the Covid-19 Global Pandemic in Nairobi’s low income Areas conducted by Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), a local research firm, found that at least 60 percent of those who have suffered loss of daily earnings claim that the restrictions should be lifted so that people can resume their normal economic activities even if this means the virus continues to spread. This is against a backdrop of increased desperation in many of these low-income neigbourhoods, which has strained resources in a least 75 percent of households, the report notes.
Social institutions and movement have not been spared either by the lockdown. According to the report, at least 66 percent of the respondents have been affected by the ban on travel into and out of the metropolitan and the imposition of the 1900 hrs to 0500 hrs curfew. James Mogaka, a resident of Kawangware told the Elephant that he has been unable to travel to his home county of Kisii to spend time with his family. He has not seen them since the regulations were enforced. As is the plight of Mogaka and many others, the report highlights that 57 percent of low-income earners are very worried on the continuation of the Nairobi travel ban and curfew and they advocate for the restrictions to be lifted so people can resume their normal activities.
Increase in crime has been the major reason why over 80 percent of respondents are keen that the curfew and travel restrictions be lifted and economic activities continue. They are concerned about the future levels of crime due to the economic implications of the lockdown. When asked to corroborate this, Eunice Mwaniki, a resident of Huruma and mother of two, told The Elephant that she closes her vegetable business at 1600 hrs everyday because once dusk approaches, gangs of young men troll the streets pickpocketing and mugging citizens of their hard earned money. She emphasised that the last time she witnessed this kind of theft and daylight robbery was during the grim days of the Nyayo era when Nairobi was infamously christened “Nairobbery”
A majority of denizens are pessimistic that things will change and even bigger majorities are “very worried” about contracting the COVID-19 virus with the constant rise in the number of cases and deaths. Indeed, how such perceptions will change as the full extent of the impact of the virus crisis will be important to track moving forward, given the impact of such perceptions on actual behaviour, both related to the disease and the conditions of life more generally.
On 6th June 2020, a clear majority of respondents had hoped that the President would announce an end to both the travel ban and night curfew but what followed was only a reduction of the curfew period and a hinted policy posture to open up the country. As the country gets closer to 6
th July 2020, the day the lockdown will likely be lifted; it is yet to be perceived what direction the government will take. What is clear, however, is that Kenyans are eagerly expecting a policy shift that will make their lives better.
Juliet Atellah is a data journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya
Prof Elísio Macamo: The 'Swedish Model' is the Best Way to Fight COVID-19 in Africa
•2 Jun 2020
The Elephant publisher John Githongo hosts Prof Elísio Macamo to dissect Africa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Born and bred in Mozambique and a sociologist by training, he is currently a professor of African Studies at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Prof Macamo argues that the current raft of COVID-19 mitigation measures is potentially disastrous for Africa: "The cure is worse than the disease," he says. "We are committing suicide because we fear death."
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Africans facing coronavirus must not suffer the injustices they saw with Aids
Patients were used as guinea pigs but denied access to resulting therapies. This time, Big Pharma must be held to account
Lydia Namubiru - 18. April 2020
Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock A Covid-19 testing point in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The year I turned 11, my uncle Josiah Ssesanga was admitted to a hospital in Uganda with meningitis. It was 1994, and he was HIV positive. Between him and death stood a tattered post-civil war health system.
Treatments for HIV and Aids existed in other parts of the world, but in Uganda they were mostly limited to those used in clinical trials. For my uncle’s particular infection – cryptococcal meningitis – there was a drug called Fluconazole. But he didn’t know it existed; regardless, he wouldn’t have been able to afford it. and even among patients who took it, only 12% survived beyond six months.
The day after his admission, “people from some American project” arrived with a mountain of paperwork, my aunt remembers. They were doing a clinical trial testing a more effective combination therapy.
“There were about three pages on possible side-effects of the drug. We were also warned that he would need to keep taking the drugs even if the project ended,” my aunt says. “But for most of us, in that hour, our answer was yes. We were desperate. Anything to stop that pain.”
Cryptococcal meningitis causes very severe headaches. These headaches drove uncle Ssesanga out of his mind and he often needed to be physically restrained.
Once on the trial, my uncle received a combination of two drugs with rapid results: in under two weeks, he was discharged from inpatient care. In the subsequent months, he completed his university degree and became an inspector of schools. He would return to the hospital to meet researchers and had to endure painful lumbar punctures to track his recovery.
However, the clinical trial provided only a few months of therapy beyond the researchers’ initial period of investigation. After that, my uncle was told to start paying for his pills. A week’s supply alone cost more than he earned in a month. He quietly stopped the treatment.
About a year later, a researcher came looking for him. She implored my relatives to get him back on treatment. But there was still not enough money. Two years later, he fell seriously ill and died in the harrowing way every Aids patient without access to antiretroviral therapy did.
Today my family is proud that my uncle contributed to the development of combination therapy that restored hope and dignity to so many Aids patients globally. But we are still heartbroken that, for him and many other African patients, their contribution to these advances was unmarked and thankless.
Now I fear that we will replay this painful script again as we face the coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, two French doctors
suggested that coronavirus vaccine trials should be done in Africa: the continent with the lowest numbers of confirmed cases so far. Speaking on French TV, one said: “If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation?”
Given the long history of medical racism and painful experiences like that of my family’s, some Africans were
understandably annoyed, calling these comments racist and akin to treating people as “human guinea pigs”.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, described the doctors’ comments as a hangover from a “colonial mentality”, and said that “Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine”.
And yet – as happened with the Aids pandemic – Africa will certainly be a testbed for some coronavirus therapies, vaccines or contagion controls. It already is. The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) has, for instance, put out an early €4.75m call
for research proposals on Covid-19 responses in Africa. And this is actually a good thing.
Excluding the continent from ongoing pandemic research is not the answer. Clinical trials can be ethically done – and many African countries and institutions now have ethics review boards to oversee this research.
The injustice is in how geopolitical power imbalances, through patent law, ration access to the drugs that come out of successful trials.
In 1996, the United States began approving the powerful combination therapies to treat HIV and Aids that came out of studies like the one my uncle was part of. It was a watershed moment for US activists (many of them marginalised gay men).
But it should not have been only theirs. Patients across the developing world had also given their own blood, spinal fluid and sinew, to test and establish these therapies. For years, with the cover of western patent laws, drug companies priced medicines out of their reach. By 2000, when India’s Cipla Pharmaceuticals
defied these patents to produce generic Aids drugs that countries in the global south could afford to purchase for their citizens, my uncle was long dead.
The WHO’s declaration that Africa won’t be a testing ground for coronavirus vaccines ultimately overlooks a much bigger problem. What we really need is assurance that
Africa will get any vaccine or treatment at the same time as any other region; and on terms which mean we can actually afford it.
Médecins Sans Frontières has stated that governments must “ prepare to suspend and override patents”. Warning that companies might try to “profiteer” from Covid-19, Márcio da Fonseca, an MSF infectious disease adviser, has urged governments to “set the wheels in motion to override [patent] monopolies, so they can ensure the supply of affordable drugs and save more lives”.
Rather than simply banning clinical trials in Africa, and excluding the continent from research, this is the solution that would have saved my uncle’s life.
• Lydia Namubiru, a Ugandan feminist and journalist, is the Africa editor for
50.50, a section of openDemocracy
• This piece was co-published by
openDemocracy, and the fee was donated to Children of the Sun Foundation (CoSF), serving LGBTI Ugandans living with HIV/Aids. CoSF was recently raided by police, but you can donate through The Taala Foundation; they will transfer the donations once CoSF’s team is out of jail.