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” (the better term is community 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
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Number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 and number of people who already recovered. This map gets updated multiple times each day with
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COMMENT: Maybe it is a clever move to safeguard South-Africans from these vaccines. When in 4-5 year the full picture of the negative side effects of these COVID-19 vaccinations will be known, it will be too late for those who have been inoculated now. The strategy chosen by Tanzania works for the people, the economy and the country. South Africa better concentrates on creating work opportunities for the huge masses of jobless Youth instead of wiggling between a detrimental international agenda and local political interests. Africa’s options for COVID-19 vaccines are limited – Ramaphosa
By BB - 04. January 2021
Africa has few options to procure Covid-19 vaccines as the outbreak of the disease worsens across many parts of the continent, South Africa’s presidency said.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have offered to supply Africa with 50 million Covid-19 vaccines for health workers between March and the end of this year, the presidency said in a response to Bloomberg on Sunday.
Moderna Inc. has no supplies for Africa, while AstraZeneca Plc has no shots for the continent in 2021 and has directed the African Union to negotiate with the Serum Institute of India Ltd., which is making the vaccine on behalf of AstraZeneca.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is the African Union’s chairman.
Ramaphosa’s response comes after days of withering criticism in South Africa over the country’s vaccine strategy from health leaders, labor unions and opposition parties.
Even though four vaccine trials are underway in the country, South Africa has only arranged to purchase enough shots for 10% of its population of 60 million people through the Covax initiative, which is designed to ensure equitable access to the vaccines.
These are likely to begin arriving in the second quarter. Some African countries have their own plans for vaccine procurement. Most do not.
“We are working hard in South Africa and on the continent to protect our people against Covid-19,” the presidency said.
South Africa is posting record numbers of infections and deaths and neighboring Zimbabwe is entering a strict 30-day lockdown. The South African economy likely contracted the most in nine decades last year, according to official estimates.
In an emailed statement, a representative for AstraZeneca said the company has “created a number of supply chains around the world in order to provide broad and equitable supply to the vaccine.”
The statement named Covax and the Serum Institute of India as the main channels through which African countries can access vaccines.
The cost of Pfizer’s vaccines are “prohibitive,” the presidency said. A representative of Pfizer confirmed talks with the African Union, declining to give further details.
In a subsequent statement, a Pfizer representative based in the U.K. said the company remained “firmly committed to equitable access for Covid-19 vaccines.”
“We have allocated doses for supply to low- and lower-middle-income countries at a not-for-profit price and we are actively working with governments all around the world,” the emailed statement said.
Discussions are taking place with Johnson & Johnson, which is conducting a trial in South Africa and plans to make 300 million doses a year at a factory in the country owned by Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. when the shot is approved.
J&J “has not clarified whether Africa will benefit from vaccines manufactured in South Africa,” the presidency said. “We still have to negotiate the price that is affordable to Africa.”
South Africa is holding direct talks with vaccine suppliers including J&J, AstraZeneca and Pfizer over supplies for the country, the presidency said. South Africa’s health products regulator is using a so-called rolling review, which allows it to assess vaccine data as it becomes available during the trials to assess J&J’s shot. It will do the same with AstraZeneca and Pfizer when they apply.
African countries would’ve been in a better position to gain early access to AstraZeneca’s and other vaccines had they been “as strategic” as wealthier nations and started talks directly with producers and in parallel with early efforts to secure access to Covax, Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist professor and head of the South African arm of the AstraZeneca trial, told Bloomberg.
“The Covax facility, whilst noble in its social solidarity mission for equitable access of vaccines, was never likely to break the legacy of the lag it takes before life-saving vaccines become available to low and middle income countries,” Madhi said.
While at least 29 countries, from Mexico to Germany, have begun inoculating their populations against the virus, South Africa has yet to conclude any supply agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
Kenya, a far poorer country than South Africa, expects to get vaccine deliveries at the end of January or next month, Nairobi’s Standard newspaper reported on Sunday, citing the country’s health secretary. It didn’t specify which vaccine. [
N.B.: Reportedly its the Astra-Zeneca/Oxford vaccine.]
On Saturday, an opinion piece published in local media and signed by senior members of the Progressive Health Forum, which includes the heads of medical associations and academics, called for Ramaphosa to fire health department officials for their failure to secure vaccine supplies.
“As a health care worker with friends and colleagues in the front line and knowing health care workers who have contracted Covid-19 and died doing their duty, we are obliged to try to hasten access to the vaccine so they can do their job,” said Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council and a member of the forum, in a response to queries.
South Africa, with over 1.09 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and 29,175 deaths, is the worst hit country on the African continent.
Interpol notes fake Covid-19 vaccine bust in SA
By Christelle du Toit - 28. December 2020
It is believed that several hundreds of ampules of unregistered vaccines were imported from China, with Interpol saying they were advertised for sale on WeChat.
On 23 December, Interpol published a purple notice on the seizure in South Africa.
International policing agency, Interpol, has taken note of a fake Covid-19 vaccine bust in South Africa.
The South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) Vishnu Naidoo confirmed the incident in November where three suspects were arrested following the seizure of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines in Germiston.
It is believed that several hundreds of ampules of unregistered vaccines were imported from China, with Interpol saying they were advertised as for sale on WeChat.
When law-enforcement authorities searched the industrial park in Germiston, they also came across and confiscated a large quantity of fake N95 masks.
At the beginning of December, Interpol issued a
global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” Interpol said.
“With an increasing amount of Covid-related frauds, Interpol is also advising members of the public to take special care when going online to search for medical equipment or medicines.”
On 23 December, Interpol published a purple notice on the seizure in South Africa.
A purple notice is issued by Interpol “to seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices, and concealment methods used by criminals”.
their website, Interpol notices are made available to all its member countries, but “most notices are for police use only and are not made available to the public”.
“However, in some cases, for example, to alert the public, or to request help from the public, an extract of the notice can be published.”
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)’s spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane says the accused in this matter appeared in court in Germiston and are out on R100 000 bail.
They are due back in court on 19 February 2021.
Kenya Launches Human Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine
By Lenny Ruvaga - 05. November 2020
FILE - Medical staff dressed in protective suits talk to each other as they treat coronavirus disease patients at the COVID-19 ICU of Machakos Level 5 Hospital, in Machakos, Kenya, Oct. 28, 2020.
NAIROBI - About forty volunteers, mostly front-line health workers, are participating in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in Kenya.
The trial phase of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is being conducted by the KEMRI-Welcome Trust Research program based in Kilifi.
KEMRI's Dr. Samuel Sang said researchers are trying to determine if the vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is safe for Kenyans.
“Vaccines which have been found to work and are safe in one population [may not] work across populations," Sang said. Therefore, he said, there's a need to to assess whether the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is safe and works among the Kenyan volunteers.
Sang said the vaccine was being tested for both safety and impact.
“Our expectation is to assess whether ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is safe, effective and elicits a good immune response in adults above the age of 18 years,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 100 COVID-19 vaccines currently under the human trial phase of development.
A volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, June 24, 2020, as part of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine trial.
But some analysts say that while vaccine research and development are advancing, the equitable distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine remains a question.
A recent study by Duke University's Global Health Innovation Center argues that high-income countries will have an undue advantage in accessing the vaccines once they've been developed.
Andrea Taylor, assistant director for programs at the Duke center, said, "Our results need to be understood in the context of limited manufacturing capacity. High- and middle-income countries have already reserved 3.8 billion doses, with options for another 5 billion, before any vaccines are even on the market. So when vaccine candidates do receive approvals, the doses that can be manufactured in the first year or two may already be reserved for high-income countries.”
But, Taylor said, that outcome is not set in stone.
“Leadership from lower-income countries is changing the conversation," she said. "For example, the African Union and the Africa CDC are coordinating an Africa-wide approach to pool financing for vaccine procurement and to increase financing within Africa. We’re seeing similar initiatives emerge in Latin America as well. These regional partnerships are really exciting and could strengthen lower-income countries’ leverage and their position on the global market.”
Kenya’s Health Ministry said an additional 360 volunteers would be added to the human trial phase once the efficacy and safety of the vaccine had been established over the next year in the first batch of volunteers.
Africa 'needs $1.2tn' to recover coronavirus losses
By BBC - 10. October 2020
- image copyright Getty Images Africa has not been too badly hit in health terms, but the economy has suffered
The economic damage as well as the health costs caused by coronavirus has left Africa needing $1.2tn (£920bn) over the next three years, the International Monetary Fund has said.
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said the world "must do more to support Africa to [recover]... from this crisis".
Africa has had fewer Covid infections and deaths than most other continents.
But the World Bank says 43 million more Africans are at risk of extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.
The economic impact is reversing the trend in recent years of strong growth in Africa, as jobs have been lost and family incomes have been reduced by 12%, Ms Georgieva told a virtual IMF meeting.
To help soften the blow, many African governments have introduced mitigation policies which have cost 2.5% of GDP, she added.
The IMF has given African countries about $26bn to cushion the impact but even with the help of private lenders and other countries' assistance there is still a huge shortfall in funding.
"Some countries are confronting high debt burdens forcing them to choose between debt service and additional social and health spending," the IMF chief said.
As a means to help, she called for an extension of the moratorium by the G20 of debt repayments and wanted more funds to be available to lend.
There have been more than 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa and nearly 37,000 people have died.
COMMENT: The answer to the question: Why Africa was spared by SARS-CoV-2??", for which Bill and Melinda Gates are biting their fingernails since it is against their wishful predictions of 100 Million dead Africans, was asked today again by the media-agency of the Banksters: Puzzled scientists seek reasons behind Africa's low fatality rates from pandemic
Alexander Winning - 29. September 2020
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa’s overburdened public health systems, dearth of testing facilities and overcrowded slums had experts predicting a disaster when COVID-19 hit the continent in February.
REUTERS/Mike Hutchings A health worker between empty beds at a temporary field hospital set up in a sports complex by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa, July 21, 2020.
In May the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that 190,000 people on the continent could die if containment measures failed. Yet as the world marks 1 million COVID-19 deaths, Africa is doing much better than expected, with a lower percentage of deaths than other continents.The new coronavirus was already wreaking havoc in wealthy Asian and European nations, and a United Nations agency said in April that, even with social-distancing measures, the virus could kill 300,000 Africans this year.
The continent’s case fatality count stands at 2.4%, with roughly 35,000 deaths among the more than 1.4 million people reported infected with COVID-19, according to Reuters data as at late Monday. In North America, it is 2.9% and in Europe 4.5%
Hard-hit countries such as Italy and Britain have recorded fatality counts of 11.6% and 9.0% respectively, compared to 1.6% for Ethiopia, 1.9% for Nigeria and 2.4% for South Africa, the continent’s worst affected country.
Hospitals in many African countries say COVID-19 admission rates are falling.
“Based on what we have seen so far it is unlikely that we are going to see anything at the scale that we are seeing in Europe - both in terms of infections and mortality,” said Rashida Ferrand, a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor working at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.
Experts say that some COVID-19 deaths in Africa probably are being missed. Testing rates in the continent of about 1.3 billion people are among the lowest in the world, and many deaths of all types go unrecorded.
South Africa saw some 17,000 extra deaths from natural causes between early May and mid-July, 59% more than would normally be expected, according to a July report from the South African Medical Research Council. That suggests the death toll from COVID-19 could be significantly higher than the official figure, currently over 16,000, researchers say. Even so, there is wide agreement that COVID-19 fatality rates have not so far been as bad as predicted.
A mine worker wearing a face masks boards a bus ahead of his shift, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, at a mine of Sibanye-Stillwater company in Carletonville, South Africa, May 19, 2020.
Why? Scientists and public health experts cite a number of possible factors, including the continent’s youthful population and lessons learned from previous disease outbreaks. African governments also had precious time to prepare due to the relative isolation of many of their citizens from airports and other places where they could come into contact with global travellers.
Some scientists also are exploring the possibility that a tuberculosis vaccine routinely given to children in many African countries might be helping reduce deaths from COVID-19.
Another theory being considered is whether prior exposure to other coronaviruses including those that cause the common cold has provided a degree of resistance in some of the very communities once thought to be most vulnerable.
“There is a lot of circumstantial evidence,” Salim Abdool Karim, a South African infectious disease specialist who has advised the government on COVID-19, told Reuters, “but there is no smoking gun.”
The virus hit Africa later than other continents, giving medical personnel time to set up field hospitals, source oxygen and ventilators, and learn from improvements in treatment elsewhere.
“We got the gift of time,” said Thumbi Mwangi, senior research fellow at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases. “We had an amount of preparation that others did not.”
One reason could be that international travel is limited in many African countries, and travelling domestically can be more difficult than on other continents, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told a news conference on Thursday.
The continent’s governments have also battled deadly infectious diseases such as Ebola, which killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa in 2013-16. So officials took notice when the new coronavirus started spreading around the globe rapidly early this year.
REUTERS/Mike Hutchings A cleaner walks between empty beds at a temporary field hospital set up in a sports complex by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town, South Africa, July 21, 2020.
Many African countries were quick to introduce screening at airports, suspend flights from heavily affected nations and enforce social distancing measures and mask wearing.
Within a week of Kenya reporting its first case, schools were shut, incoming travellers had to undergo a mandatory quarantine and large gatherings were banned. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, imposed a ban on interstate travel and a curfew. Many of its land borders had already been closed since August 2019 to cut down on smuggling, which helped fight the pandemic too.
South Africa introduced one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in late March, when the country had confirmed just 400 cases.
“Africa brought down the hammer earlier in terms of coronavirus lockdowns,” said Tim Bromfield, regional director for East and Southern Africa at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a U.K.-based think tank.
Experts also point to the continent’s demographics.
Research has found that the risk of developing severe COVID-19 increases with age.
A 2019 United Nations report said 62% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population was under 25 and just 3% 65 or over. In the U.N.’s Europe and North America region, 28% were under 25 while 18% were age 65 and up.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, attributed his country’s relatively low case mortality rate in part to the fact that the majority of patients were between the ages of 31 and 40.
Scientists in several countries including South Africa are testing whether the century-old Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, widely used on the continent against tuberculosis, provides a degree of cross-protection.
BCG vaccines have been shown to protect against other viral respiratory illnesses, and a study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July found that countries with higher vaccination rates for tuberculosis had lower peak mortality rates from COVID-19.
REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko Vaccine trials' volunteers wait for their names to be called before testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and taking part of the country's human clinical trial for potential vaccines at the Wits RHI Shandukani Research Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27, 2020.
Studies have also started in South Africa and Zimbabwe to assess the impact of past exposure to other coronaviruses.
More than half of Africa’s urban population is concentrated in slums, where access to water for hand washing is scarce, and physical distancing is near-impossible.
Diseases spread rapidly under such conditions, but some scientists wonder whether that may have been an unexpected boon in this case. There is some evidence that T cells developed by the body’s immune system after exposure to other common cold coronaviruses could help fight off COVID-19.
“I would say that is at least a plausible explanation as to why there are different levels of resistance to the virus in different populations,” said Thomas Scriba, an immunologist and deputy director of the South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative.
Others are more sceptical.
“All other regions have been exposed to coronaviruses, have poor people and slums and have received BCG vaccination,” said Humphrey Karamagi, team leader for data and analytics at the WHO’s Africa office. “We are most probably looking at a mix of multiple factors working together - and not a single magic bullet.”
For Sam Agatre Okuonzi, from the Arua Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda, the doomsday predictions were informed by entrenched prejudices, including that the continent is prone to disease.
“COVID-19 has shattered a lot of biases about disease in general but also about Africa,” he told Thursday’s briefing. “The severity of the pandemic has not played out in line with the outrageous predictions.”
Additional reporting by Wendell Roelf in Cape Town and Tim Cocks in Johannesburg, MacDonald Dzirutwe in Harare, Ed McAllister in Dakar, Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos, Katharine Houreld in Nairobi and Giulia Paravicini in Addis Ababa; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and David Gregorio
The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
EPILOGUE: That's a no-brainer. Answer: Because they did not have Cuomo level corruption in their governments. Poke fun at them all you want, but their corruption is out in the open, not refined down and served up in a smoothie. And because of this, you end up with people in government who actually care, like the president of Tanzania who sent in covid test samples of fruit, birds and motor oil only to discover THE WHOLE DAMN THING IS FAKE. And THAT is why Africa's "death toll" is so low - no fakery, and no mass murders. A "shortage of ventilators" in Africa saved "394,000 lives.".
Remember - the method in the U.S. was to give people the ventilator medications, to stop their natural breathing, and then not hook them up to one. OR, if hooked up, to set the pressures so high it destroyed people's lungs from overinflation. Imagine how that would feel. Get rid of the ventilators, and you won't have those opportunities for hyper corrupt smoothies to be served up to countless families.
BBC PODCAST - 24. September 2020
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.
(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
People protest against coronavirus trials in Africa, outside Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospita in the township of Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa, Saturday, July 18, 2020, The first clinical trial in Africa for a COVID-19 vaccine started in South Africa. Experts note a worrying level of resistance and misinformation around testing on the continent.
Why 'In the last 24 hours' Covid-19 statistics a fraud
By KIBISU KABATESI - 12. Septmber 2020
•These were followed rapidly by issuance of travel restrictions, a countrywide curfew, closure of schools, ban on gatherings, including funerals and political meetings, and targeted lockdowns. The enforcement by the police was brutal.
•But it’s the collateral damage that “In the Last 24 hours” measures wrought on the economy that wasn’t foretold. Business simply went into a spin of closure, redundancy, job losses and homelessness followed.
BEWARE NCDS: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during a Covid-19 briefing. Image: MAGDALINE SAYA
Since coronavirus struck us in March, the Ministry of Health has embarked on a daily briefing decoded as “In the last 24 hours”.
At the beginning, the bulletin revealed the virus was in Kenya, what the prognosis was and the government containment measures against its spread. That’s how the stay home, avoid physical contact (keep social distance), wear masks, wash hands and sanitise containment idioms came into vogue.
These were followed rapidly by issuance of travel restrictions, a countrywide curfew, closure of schools, ban on gatherings, including funerals and political meetings, and targeted lockdowns. The enforcement by the police was brutal.
But it’s the collateral damage that “In the Last 24 hours” measures wrought on the economy that wasn’t foretold. Business simply went into a spin of closure, redundancy, job losses and homelessness followed.
The containment measures simply meant workers couldn’t go to work, while customers vanished. Interestingly, a new cottage industry sprung up to meet demands for masks, soap and sanitiser but not enough to fill the gap created by Covid-19 ravages on production, consumption and employment.
Meantime, the daily “In the Last 24 hours” gathered steam as a must-see media show. The thrill was in the exhortations to abide by the containment measures, and the stream of numbers of the tested, infected and the dead. In-between would be added comic relief in new measures, for instance, the one-sausage-four-beers counterfoil to beat alcohol consumption edict.
But the ecstasy soon waned off “In the Last 24 hours” show as the public lapsed into the old normal as if in competition against government decrees. The more government bent backwards to meet the Kenyans expectations to relax control measures, the more they reverted to the old normal. Public apathy isn’t without justification. The numbers of the tested, infected and the dead had lost its initial magnetism.
They have been falling rather dramatically without concise explanation hence reduced public interest. Where one would expect proportionate rise in infections given the acknowledgement of community transmission and spread, there has been deafening silence on the causality factor. Why while community infection continues unabated, infections have reduced dramatically? What’s the correlation that government isn’t telling the public?
I think “In the Last 24 hours” is a scandal of huge proportions in government dereliction of duty and abrogation of the constitutional right to know. This is much more than the Kemsa money raid because it directly compromises the lives of Kenyans and denies them the right to know the severity and spread of the virus.
First, we know — and government admits — that it hasn’t been able to follow through the promised “mass” testing that there never was. The effect of mass testing would’ve provided proximate severity status and area specifics because of the large samples involved. Instead, the country has been treated to a drip based on minute samples, whose source was initially not even attributed.
When source attribution begun, samples were concentrated in major urban centres. With counties left to their own devices, the samples weren’t nationally representative. The excuse was that the virus spread was more lethal in crowded poor urban neighbourhoods than in rural areas. Therefore, samples were high because of easy access, so were infections, but from limited geography.
Despite this limitation, there is the odd assertion of the virus being “discovered” chronologically in one county after another, even as the samples have dwindled from a high of 6,000 to an average 2,000. Why?
Second, the scandal is that government is forging reduced numbers to mean a decrease in the rate of infections thus “flattening the curve”. The fake is in the contradiction of accepting that the country has limited surveillance, tracking, contact tracing and testing capacity but creating the impression that infections are coming down.
Third, when it became obvious that community infection would be devastating after lifting lockdowns, counties were recruited to carryout tracking and contact tracing without testing capacity. With few and far between testing centres in the country, this exercise was in vain and exposed the country’s universal health care vanity didn't commensurate with poor investment in the health sector.
It gave rise to questions about the validity of the daily 24-hour circle statistics of test results. This was the first sign that “In the Last 24 hours” lay a scandal of inaccuracy because testing could’ve been done within 24-hours, but by no means were all the results obtained within that time.
Fourth, depleted of resources, counties barely carried out meaningful surveillance, enforcement of containment measures and providing PPE. They soon gave up on the pretence, including the untruthful fashion of setting up quarantine and isolation centres. Government quickly filled the void with another experiment in self-isolation and now home-based care. Both are largely impractical facades for poor Kenyans who’re on their own and have reverted to old routines as if Covid-19 doesn’t exist.
Fifth, what does this mean? That we don’t know the severity of Covid-19 in the country and “In the Last 24 hours” is misleading. In fact, experts are of the view that “In the Last 24 hours” numbers are now based on captive institutional targets such as prisons and not random public tests.
This damning allegation is buttressed by another even more shocking insight. In a story in the Star on Monday (unfortunately tacked in inside pages) that exposes “In the Last 24 hours” as a disgrace, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union reveals in
State lying about Covid-19 curve flattening, doctors’ union alleges, that we’re being taken for a nightmare ride.
The union secretary general Dr Gor Goody lifts the veil on “In the Last 24 hours” outrage stating that people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and the aged are getting Covid-19 and dying without being tested.
She’s quoted saying, “mortuaries are abnormally full, which means the mortality rate has increased. But we are not getting the right statistics. The government is only claiming the curve is flattening. How is it flattening?” With that, one wonders how “In the Last 24 hours” will explain a surge in infections soon.
Meanwhile, Dr Goody attributes lack of statistics to shortage of capacity to do more tests and “that is why the number of infections given daily by the government is reducing”.
She confirms that “In the Last 24 hours” is a fallacy because “those tested take up to one to four weeks to get their results” and adds the numbing suspicion that “the number of infections should be going up especially when government lifted movement restrictions leading to high urban-rural migration.” True of false?
I cannot begrudge the insight of a medical practitioner of Dr Goody’s ranking, neither could I second guess a social media post that reckons, “The curve has been flattened to pave way for referendum on constitution changes to allow a broad government which will be a burden to a tax payer” when political activity has resumed with a vengeance.
Just like Covid-19 gave birth to Kemsa theft, it has conceived “In the Last 24 hours” fraud.
Africa’s Catastrophic Lockdowns Have Sentenced to Death Far More People Than COVID Ever Could
You have a young population with high levels of cross-immunity, but extremely vulnerable to disruption of income
Ian Birrell - 11. September 2020
For one thing between the loss of income, travel restrictions, and fear, you have many more mothers giving birth outside hospitals leading to far more complication deaths
As Covid-19 began to sweep across the planet earlier this year,
raising the horrifying prospect of fragile health systems becoming overwhelmed with corpses piled up in hospital corridors. the warnings about the disease’s impact on Africa were terrifying. The World Health Organisation predicted ten million cases within six months, Other UN experts said there could be 1.2bn cases and 3.3m deaths without emergency interventions, while more optimistic modelling from the influential experts at Imperial College, London, anticipated 300,000 deaths.
countries on the continent rushed to follow the lead of rich nations such as Italy and Spain that were visibly struggling to cope with pandemic. Many closed borders, shut businesses and locked down citizens. Among the firmest responses was Uganda’s, where public transport was suspended, schools shut down, shops closed, curfews imposed and big gatherings banned. Kampala has conducted more than 350,000 tests, according to official data. After doom-laden warnings of 68,000 fatalities from the virus if there were failure to act, there have been 44 confirmed coronavirus deaths in this east African nation of 43m.
Such actions won praise from global health bodies. Yet were blunt lockdowns really the right approach in Africa? A growing body of doctors, economists and scientists fear these measures will have disastrous consequences. These experts warn of financial carnage, spiralling epidemics of other diseases, the intensification of gender and wealth inequalities and the battle against poverty being set back by decades. They point to Africa’s youth, with a median age of 18 years compared with 41 years in Europe, and few people in the highest-risk older categories — which may help explain why a continent of 1.3bn people has seen fewer confirmed virus deaths than the UK.
Almost one in five Britons is aged 65 or over; in Africa, it is fewer than one in 50. Yet the impact of shutting down countries will be far worse than in wealthier developed nations.
David Bell, a malaria specialist who has worked with both Bill Gates and the WHO, is among those concerned that we may be witnessing catastrophe unfolding on the continent. “It seems global health authorities did not think through the collateral damage, yet we knew by March the age-related fatality levels of this virus. If you looked at Italy or China, it was old people who were dying.
In developing nations, many people live day to day, so even short disruption can be devastating to lives, while there are already large epidemics of malaria, tuberculosis and HiV that will only get worse if you reduce access and healthcare for a few months.”
Take Uganda, where borders remain closed, the curfew is still in place, and half the citizens are under 16 years old. On the plus side, there is thought to have been a fall in traffic fatalities as people stayed at home. But a new study by Bell and five other researchers indicates restrictive measures led to plummeting detection of new HiV and malaria cases, along with treatment of highly-infectious tuberculosis, while maternal mortality instantly surged from 92 deaths in January to 167 fatalities in March. “The fear is more people will die from other conditions,” said Agnes Kiragga, head of statistics at the Infectious Diseases Institute, Kampala, and co-author of the paper. “This has been a learning curve. Governments in Africa must consider not just Covid but other diseases that are more dangerous in a young population.”
One medic said the nation’s health budget had been depleted in three months, storing up problems. Another told me of children missing critical immunisations and a surge in suicides amid economic downturn so fierce the
BBC recently showed a school teacher who lost her job selling maize on the street. “I had to look for a way of surviving,” said Harriet Agasiu. “I was eating my savings, which I finished.” There is little safety net in such places. Many people also live in crowded conditions lacking basic services that make social distancing impossible. And in countries such as Angola, Kenya and Uganda, people have been killed by security officials enforcing lockdown and others beaten and shot, exposing how thugs in uniform may be more dangerous than the disease.
Malawi was among the handful of African countries that did not impose such rigid measures after its pandemic response became ensnared in electoral politics.
Human rights activists, fearing the government was using the virus to wriggle out of a re-run presidential contest, won a court battle to stop lockdown on the basis there was not sufficient provision to stop poor people going hungry. Even big campaign rallies went ahead, although schools and later bars were shut down.
Predictive modelling warned that inaction would lead to 16 million infections, 483,000 hospitalisations and 50,000 fatalities in this southern African nation of 19m people — yet there have been just 176 confirmed deaths to date.
There has been limited testing in Malawi, while doctors admit significant numbers of deaths may be going unrecorded, especially in rural areas. Yet
there have been few coronavirus patients in their hospital emergency units. “We’ve not seen a lot of cases and the reasons remain unknown,” said Marah Chibwana, a member of the Viral Immunology Research Group at Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme. She has just completed a study in Blantyre that found one in eight health workers has had Covid-19, highlighting this discrepancy between predicted and actual reported deaths. “It is a mystery that despite not going into a lockdown, we have experienced a low number of fatalities.”
The youth of citizenry must be a factor. But, as Chibwana says, another theory under investigation is that previous exposure to coronaviruses, such as those responsible for common colds, might have built up immunity to Covid-19. One leading South African virologist says he cannot think of any other reason to explain the numbers of completely asymptomatic people seen on the continent. If this is correct, it would mean
the very conditions expected to fuel huge fatalities — cramped homes, crowded urban areas and communal washing spaces — may in fact help to protect poorer places in developing nations. Although who knows what lies ahead with this unpredictable new virus?
Some countries are now tweaking their approach to focus more on testing and surveillance, having seen the disadvantages of lockdown. Lynda Iroulo, a Nigerian research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies, points to a spike in crime during lockdown in Lagos.
“African nations made the mistake of mimicking Western measures without considering local conditions. In Western nations lockdowns were more feasible because the infrastructure is there and social welfare is available. But in most African nations lockdowns were flouted in search of money and sustenance. This is not surprising — it is a difficult challenge to overcome because the pandemic only exacerbated existing problems within nations. So the lockdown did more harm than good.”
A series of studies is starting to show the collateral damage in a continent where countries and families are being pushed to the brink, and where more than eight in ten people are self-employed, many surviving on marginal incomes as street vendors or day labourers.
The UN forecast that Africa could have 30 million more people in poverty. A study by the International Growth Centre spoke of “staggering” implications with 9.1% of the population descending into extreme poverty as savings are drained, with two-thirds of this due to lockdown. ‘The context is very different to Europe because people become food deprived,” said co-author Matthieu Teachout, who fears the crisis could set poverty rates back two decades.
Then there is the wider health impact.
One US charity predicts 2.3m child deaths due to disruption of services in the pandemic’s first year. Births in Zimbabwe’s health clinics have fallen more than one-fifth — which, according to a study in the , if replicated across the developing world Lancet might lead to 12,200 more maternal deaths, since women are more likely to die in childbirth from complications if not in a medical setting. A WHO analysis projects an extra 200,000 fatalities from TB this year, while the organisation also warns that the blocking of access to anti-retroviral therapies could lead to half a million extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses.
Lancet paper in May came from researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who were instantly concerned by the possible side-effects of the pandemic. It showed the results of modelling maternal and under-5 deaths resulting from disruption of health systems and decreased food access . The best scenario resulted in 253,500 additional child deaths over six months in 118 low- and middle-income countries; the worst led to 1,157,000 extra child fatalities and 56,700 more maternal deaths. “The scenarios were based on assumptions, not empirical data,” said lead author Timothy Roberton. “However, since May we’ve seen various data from different countries, and lots of anecdotal reports, that suggest our original scenarios might not be far off the mark — including the higher scenario.”
Malaria, the main cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, is another concern. To put this in perspective, Angola has seen 126 coronavirus deaths compared with 2,500 fatalities from this parasitic disease in just the first quarter of 2020. One study warned that suspending the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and a big drop in the use of drugs across Africa could lead to mortality rates not seen for two decades. Another paper in by researchers at Imperial College, London, predicts a doubling of malarial deaths this year: Nature Medicine “In Nigeria alone, reducing case management for six months and delaying long-lasting insecticidal net campaigns could result in 81,000 additional deaths.”
The tragedy behind such horrifying data, as co-author Thomas Churcher pointed out to me, is that we know how to control malaria though prevention and quick treatment.
This discussion over lockdown in Africa is a microcosm of the wider global debate over how to balance the handling of a deadly new disease with wider health, commercial and social issues.
But it is multiplied many times over since coronavirus fatality rates are so much lower than in developed nations while the impact so much more profound.
“Lockdowns are the wrong policy not just for Africa, but for almost all low income countries,” said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital and author of a book on Africa’s renaissance. I fear he is right. The more you look at the data, the harder it is to avoid the conclusions that the instant panicked response on the continent was a mistake — and one that may have the most hideous long-term consequences.
Ian Birrell is an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist. He is also the founder, with Damon Albarn, of Africa Express.
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 addressed a Press conference at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, yesterday, in protest against Covid-19 billions' theft. They were teargassed and some arrested.
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
By 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.
Kenya Police Fire Tear Gas at COVID-19 Corruption Protesters
By Mohammed Yusuf - 21. August 2020
Demonstrators run from teargas fired by police at a protest against alleged corruption, including the theft of supplies for the fight against the coronavirus, at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 21, 2020.
NAIROBI - Kenyan authorities have arrested protesters who allege equipment to fight COVID-19 is being mismanaged. Police used tear gas to disperse the activists at a park in central Nairobi.
Kenyans, led by local activists, took to the streets of Nairobi Friday. Wanjeri Nderu, one of the protest organizers, said police should be investigating those who stole public money.
“We are demanding for the arrest of the people who are known thieves, who are known to have stolen COVID-19 [equipment], but they are still free. The police, instead of coming to tear gas us, they should be in the offices investigating, making sure these people are taken to court and jailed. We cannot live in a country where we are ruled by impunity, and we have a system that does not care for the people of this nation,” Nderu said.
Before the protest began, police lobbed tear gas canisters at demonstrators and arrested at least five people.
Kenyan media report police said the protest was illegal, and the protesters' action went against health ministry protocol to contain the virus.
Nderu said she is not happy with the police.
“We do not need to seek permission from the police for them to allow us to congregate and what they have decided to do is to disperse us using teargas. We organized ourselves into four groups; one was here, the other group was in town, even the groups in Jevanjee have been tear gassed, the group at archives has been teargassed; we cannot work with the police like this. The police cannot make us [their] enemy,” Nderu said.
Last week, the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency Board suspended three top officials, including Chief Executive Officer Jonah Manjari, as a result of an investigation.
The country’s anti-corruption agency is probing a $7.7 million procurement of COVID-19 medical supplies, and preliminary results show officials flouted the process.
Political commentator Michael Agwada says corruption in an environment of economic uncertainty due to the pandemic can bring political instability.
“The worst that can happen, you can see more infections taking place as a result of these protests we are seeing here. But again, the worst that also can happen is we could see more protests that will make the government unstable. It’s a time when the government has to sit down and be very open to the public and say this is what is happening. People have asked very relevant questions as to donations from Jack Ma, where are they? And now we are hearing some of them were taken to Tanzania, and some of them were brought to Kenya. That in itself is enough to infuriate the public that you are arresting for having no mask,” Agwada said.
KEMSA is part of the Ministry of Health and provides procurement, warehousing, and distribution services for medical materials for agencies like USAID and the Global Fund.
Those organizations have raised questions about how the money meant for the public was used, and asked for an audit of KEMSA.
In May, Kenya received $50 million from the World Bank to help respond to the global pandemic threat.
Mohammed Yusuf - reports for VOA from Nairobi.
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.
Demos held in Kisumu, Nakuru over Covid funds 'theft'
They demanded Uhuru address graft allegations and bring those culpable to book.
By FAITH MATETE AND LOISE MACHARIA - 14. August 2020
• They called on development partners to demand the government publishes full information on the disbursement, allocation and utilisation of all funds advanced as grant or loans.
• Police lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators who wanted audience with Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, George Natembeya.
Human rights activists in Kisumu and Nakuru on Monday held demonstrations demanding for arrest and prosecution of those involved in the alleged theft and loss of billions of Covid-19 funds.
Human rights activists in Kisumu and Nakuru on Monday held demonstrations demanding for arrest and prosecution of those involved in the alleged theft and loss of billions of Covid-19 funds.
The demos dubbed #ArrestCovid19Thieves saw the human rights defenders sing and dance along the major streets of Kisumu as they demanded for justice.
Under the umbrella of
Kenya Tuitakayo movement from different social justice centers within the county, the activists said they were perturbed by the looting of the Covid-19 funds.
The activists were outraged by the continued lack of transparency and accountability by the Health Ministry and other governments agencies charged with managing public resources for Covid-19 response efforts and support of social protection programmes.
Bonface Ogutu Akach, the group coordinator noted that the MoH and other government institutions have disregarded calls by Kenyans to embrace openness and accountability by making public the allocations and expenditures of the funds.
They called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to address the nation on the allegations of corruption and announce transparency and accountability measures to be undertaken to safeguard resources against further theft and bring those implicated to book.
"The President must involve anti-corruption and other oversight agencies in the national coordination committee on the response to the coronavirus pandemic to steer comprehensive anti-graft measures that will prevent Covid-19 resources from further pilferage," they stated.
Human rights activists in Kisumu during demonstrations demanding for arrest and prosecution of those involved in the alleged theft and loss of billions of Covid-19 funds on August 24, 2020.
They further called on development partners to demand that the government publishes full information on the disbursement, allocation and utilisation of all funds advanced as grant or loans.
They also demanded that the EACC and DCI fast track their efforts to investigate the already suspected cases of the theft at national and county levels to facilitate the arrest, timely prosecution, adjudication and recovery of stolen resources.
"The Auditor General must conduct an independent audit of all funds advanced for Covid-19 response efforts to all recipients entities including the national and county governments and the Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund Board".
The audit, they added, should include the accounts of the different government institutions using public resources to respond to the pandemic.
They also want all government agencies to publish the names of companies and their beneficial owners and individuals awarded any contracts for Covid-19 related commodities or services and the contract amounts, at both national and county levels on the public procurement information portal.
They demanded that Health CS Mutahi Kagwe provide full disclosure on the distribution of PPEs acquired by the government whether purchased or donated giving full details on the sourced recipients.
The activists also wanted the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Regulatory Authority to publish all information on the criteria for allocation and distribution of social protection funds aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic including the list of all beneficiaries and amount disbursed.
Image: BEN NDONGA Nakuru human right defender Vincent Tanui arrested by police officers during a demonstration in Nakuru town on August 24, 2020 over the alleged stealing of Covid -19 funds.
At the same time, three human rights activists were arrested during the street demonstrations in Nakuru to pressure for government action against corruption especially on the alleged plunder of billions of meant for mitigating the pandemic.
Police lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse the demonstrators who wanted audience with Nakuru Governor, Lee Kinyanjui and Rift Valley Regional Commissioner, George Natembeya.
They wanted to present an accountability charter detailing their list of demands.
Despite the disruption, the protesters managed to get to the County headquarters where they presented their charter.
Photos by Daniel Ogendo and Ben Ndonga
KENYAN COVID ATROCITIES
Macabre: Chiefs get caught up in sex case
Boniface Gikandi | July 16th 2020
AP PHOTO/BRIAN INGANGA Children run past a mural warning about COVID-19 in Nairobi. Kenya has reported relatively few cases so far.
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.
ICYMI: 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
* Note to readers: Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
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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N.B.: Though UNHCR realized this back in May, the situation until December 2020 has declined and turned now much more severe with many refugees especially in Nairobi rendered homeless and hungry.
Urban refugees struggling to survive as economic impact of COVID-19 worsens in East, Horn and Great Lakes of Africa
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Charlie Yaxley – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
26 May 2020 |
Español | Français | عربي
© UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan Refugee mothers in Kampala, Uganda, whose livelihoods have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.
Refugees in urban areas across the East, Horn and Great Lakes region of Africa are struggling to meet their most basic needs as the economic impact of COVID-19 begins take hold.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working closely with governments and partners to find solutions for urban refugees in these challenging times. However, we fear that without further support, many urban refugees will become extremely vulnerable to exploitation, risk falling into significant levels of debt and may be forced into desperate situations to survive, such as transactional sex or child labour.
Urban refugees are facing job losses as businesses are forced to downsize or close due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many were daily wage workers or worked in the informal economy and were already living hand-to-mouth before the pandemic struck. For example, in Rwanda, most of the 12,000 urban refugees have seen the family wage earners lose their jobs; many had been working for businesses that have closed or are struggling to import commodities due to border restrictions.
Many urban refugees are also living in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions and are particularly vulnerable to the spread of the virus, as in Kenya where thousands of refugees live in impoverished neighbourhoods in Nairobi with little access to clean water, making it nearly impossible to practice regular hand washing.
In both Rwanda and Kenya, UNHCR has been providing emergency cash assistance to the most vulnerable and exploring options to expand programming. In Uganda, UNHCR and WFP are introducing one-off cash assistance for some 80,000 urban refugees using mobile money to help cover rent, food and other key items. However, these are only temporary measures and socio-economic conditions are expected to deteriorate further in the coming weeks and months.
Across the region, most governments have already generously included refugees in their COVID-19 national contingency and response plans. UNHCR calls on States to ensure that as part of these plans, urban refugees additionally have access to social safety nets providing health insurance, food and cash assistance, which the international community should further support.
Many refugees are calling UNHCR informing us they are desperate for help with rent and are facing eviction by their landlords. In Djibouti, UNHCR is working to find alternative accommodation arrangements for refugees and host community members evicted from their homes. Considering the unprecedented nature of pandemic, we urge governments and landlords across the region to develop solutions that would put in place a moratorium on evictions, at least until the crisis subsides.
Refugee children have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 prevention measures, with schools across the region having closed. While most governments have attempted to plug this gap by offering classes through the internet, TV or radio stations, many families lack the required equipment or are unable to afford internet data bundles.
UNHCR and education partners are pursuing a range of solutions including printing home study kits and uploading learning content onto phones in Uganda. In Kenya, the local mobile company, Safaricom, is providing free daily data bundles to some urban refugee students. UNHCR calls on the private sector to follow this example and play a pivotal role in helping ensure refugee kids receive the education they deserve by donating radios, smartphones, tablets, laptops and connectivity options.
UNHCR urges the international community to support its emergency response with further funding so that we can meet the rapidly rising needs before the situation reaches breaking point.
As part of the broader UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan, UNHCR is requesting some US$745 million for life-saving interventions in response to COVID-19, of which $126 million has been requested for countries in the East, Horn and Great Lakes of Africa.
UNHCR’s Bureau for the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region covers 11 countries: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Nairobi, Dana Hughes,
, +254 733 440 536 In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley,
, +41 795 808 702 In Geneva, Babar Baloch,
, +41 79 513 9549
Severe hunger threatens Africa during COVID-19 lockdowns
By Abu-Bakarr Jalloh - 22. April 2020
Measures put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus are pushing millions of people in Africa into severe hunger, relief agencies warn. The locust plague in eastern Africa could exacerbate shortages.
Rowdy scenes of people scrambling for food in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, are the new normal. The federal government and dozens of humanitarian organizations distribute food to ease the pains of the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I have to struggle in the crowd because there is no food at home and I need to get food for my daughter, my mum, my sister and her children," said Folashade Samuel, a Lagos slum dweller.
Samuel is among a growing number of desperate Nigerians who risk stampedes to collect free food supplies. The single mother and her sister carry their babies on their backs to get more, but sometimes have to come home empty-handed.
"We were scrambling for food when my sister with a young baby on her back was pushed away, and she had to give up," Samuel said. "The situation is a very, very tough. It is very dangerous to scramble for food because you can fall and get trampled on."
The Nigerian government claims its system is robust and capable of providing support to vulnerable people. But the West African regional body ECOWAS warned on Tuesday that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic could "increase the number of people at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition from 17 million to 50 million people between June and August 2020."
Most African countries followed the IMF directives to impose lockdowns for further loans.
Price hikes, no farming or cattle grazing
With 24,397 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Africa as of April 21, the outbreak means an additional burden for many people, according to a report by eight nongovernmental organizations, including Oxfam.
"In Burkina Faso, for example, which is facing an unprecedented security crisis, more than 800,000 people are currently internally displaced and suffer from a lack of food supply," Oxfam communications officer Claire Le Prive in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, said in a telephone interview. "The response today is not enough in the face of exploding needs. The coronavirus is worsening an already very difficult situation."
According to Oxfam, food prices have increased dramatically because of movement restrictions and border closures. In some countries, basic foodstuffs are often unavailable. Farmers could also struggle in the new planning season to get quality seeds and fertilizers.
Nomadic herders are also restricted from reaching new grazing lands, according to the humanitarian organization. "Dairy producers claim to have lost 75% of their market due to lockdowns in certain cities," Le Prive said. "They will no longer be able to pay their employees and suppliers. Also, the possibility of taking animals to the drinking wells at night is no longer possible due to curfews. Suddenly, there are too many of them around the wells during the day causing conflict."
A similar situation has been reported in Guinea, where businesses and hotel services have been forced to close and thousands of workers have been laid off.
"I have stopped working," said Ismail Cisse, a father of four, in the capital, Conakry. "My wife is also not working. There is nothing going on now. Even what to eat is not there."
"My child is crying because she wants to eat, but there is no food," Cisse said. "I swear I don't even have 10,000 francs (€1/$1.05) on me. The virus has weakened us, really weakened us."
Guinea has recorded 688 COVID-19 cases so far, with six deaths. The government imposed a nighttime curfew and shut businesses down in early March to slow the spread of the virus. To help with food shortages, President Alpha Conde distributed 30 tons of rice, but, according to civil society organizations, that is far from solving the country's food crisis.
People struggle to make ends meet
A dark picture
In its annual Global Report on Food Crises, released Tuesday, the UN's World Food Program reports that "the number of people battling acute hunger is on the rise again." Although the research for the publication had been conducted before the outbreak began, the pandemic "may push even more families and communities into deeper distress," according to the WFP
"Three hundred thousand people could die a day over the next three months if we do not get the funding, if we do not get to the people, who need food and other assistance now," WFP spokesperson Bettina Luescher said.
According to the report, at least 20% of the African continent's 1.2 billion people are already undernourished. This is the highest percentage in the world. Widespread poverty, price hikes under the COVID-19 lockdowns and reliance on imported food may push many into severe hunger if African governments do not act quickly.
The report paints a darker picture of a continent already concerned by numerous crises. "Many people in Africa are suffering through wars and conflicts," Luescher said. "There are sufferings in some place from droughts, and in other places from floods and the desert locust plague has been hitting eastern Africa. On top of that, comes the coronavirus."
In addition, millions of people who work as traders in the informal sector, which accounts for 85% of employment across the continent, have been forced to stay home, with no means of making ends meet.
In Kenya, desperate residents in the city's biggest slum, Kibera, rushed to a food distribution event organized on Sunday by opposition leader Raila Odinga. The stampede prompted the government to ban any direct donations.
"Food is more important than corona," Kennedy Odede, whose charity, Shining Hope for Communities, works in Kibera, told the news agency Reuters. "The government must see how people are desperate — they will risk their life for food."
In South Africa, the government is distributing food to 54,000 people deemed vulnerable under the nationwide lockdown.
A severe hunger crisis could be averted if donor countries were to provide $1.9 billion (€1.4 billion), according to the WFP. "It's not new money: That's money they were planning on giving us," Luescher said. "They have to give it now so we can requisition food for three months."
Swarms fo locusts have invaded parts of East Africa in recent months
The humanitarian organizations also warn that a second wave of
the ongoing desert locust plague in eastern and southern Africacould destroy 20 times as many food crops as the previous one had. Billions of eggs have already hatched, and juvenile locusts could prove more voracious than their parents.
A plague contains several million desert locusts, who, on a single day, could collectively feed on the food of 2,500 people. In the first wave, a few months ago, the locust plague left hundreds of thousands of hectares of arable and pasture land destroyed.
Back in Nigeria, many are flouting government's lockdown order and taking to the streets to sell small items or beg for food. "Since this morning I have not eaten, and, if I cannot find anything to eat in the afternoon, I will have to beg in the evening, because I have to survive," said Lagos resident Benjamin Jeje.
Security personnel enforcing the nationwide lockdown have killed nine people. But this does not prevent Jeje from leaving his home to fend for his family. "I have to survive," he said. "We are running away from the virus, but lack of food must not kill us: We must not go hungry."
Sam Olukoya in Lagos, Nigeria, and Karim Kamara in Conakry, Guinea, contributed to this report. Read more:
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.
Africa to become ‘land of opportunity’ if US & China strike trade deal – Bank of America
By RT - 08. Nov, 2019
The long-awaited trade agreement between the United States and China would turn the African continent into a land of opportunity for bond and equity investors.
That’s according to Bank of America (BofA) strategists David Hauner and Claudio Irigoyen. They wrote in a client note seen by Bloomberg:
“At a minimum, we think the removal of tariff and recession fears at least until the November 2020 US elections should lead to some restocking effect and green shoots by the first quarter.”
The strategists said that among the main emerging-market beneficiaries would be
“some of the less loved currency and high-yield markets, the African ‘China plays.’”
They have explained that a trade deal would reduce the risk of a strengthening dollar, supporting emerging-market currencies and high-yield debt. Some currencies, including South Africa’s rand, would also benefit from equity inflows, given that stocks are the asset class most likely to profit from an economic rebound.
BofA also predicted the biggest gainers if the US and China reach a trade agreement.
“We also like Africa, where several external credits have lagged amidst the global growth concerns: Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa,” it said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that a deal between the world’s two largest economies would greatly benefit South Africa.
On Thursday, China and the US agreed to proportionally roll back mutual punitive tariffs with the initial phase of a trade deal expected to be signed in the coming weeks. The trade row between the two countries has been going on for over a year, resulting in multiple rounds of tit-for-tat tariffs and restrictions.
Africa, beware of this man and his cohorts
Realising Africa's Potential with WEF Head Klaus Schwab
Though he also sees Africa's greatest problems correctly, i.e. the lack of inclusion (too many poor) and youth unemployment, the way he and the 1% want to solve these problems will bring disempowerment, disenfranchisement and the loss of self-determination of the people.
•Jun 25, 2013
Africa's economic pulse has quickened, and growth resurgence has transformed the continent to one of the fastest growing regions. ABN caught up with Klaus Schwab, founder & executive chairman at WEF.