Mauritius on Wednesday declared wary victory in its first battle with coronavirus, saying it had “zero” active patients and had not documented a single new case in 17 days.
The Indian Ocean island nation initially surged ahead of other eastern African countries in terms of caseload, hitting a peak of 332 just shy of six weeks into its outbreak. Ten people died.
It imposed one of the first and strictest lockdowns in Africa, going so far as to initially shut supermarkets for 10 days, a measure that has been extended until June 1.
“Today we are at 17 days without a new case. Mauritius now has zero active cases,” Health Minister Kailesh Jagutpal said in an address on national television.
“We have won the battle thanks to the cooperation of the public, who understood that the government needed to take extreme measures, including complete confinement, and the closure of supermarkets and our borders. But we have not yet won the war. Let’s remain vigilant.”
From May 15, a limited selection of essential stores such as bakeries, butcheries and fishmongers will be allowed to re-open, but most businesses, bars, shopping centres and markets will stay shut.
Schools will remain closed until August 1, the island’s famed beaches will remain off limits and no more than 10 people will be allowed to attend weddings and funerals.
Independent epidemiologist Deoraj Caussy told AFP Mauritius needed to remain on alert.
“It is imperative to use random sampling and continue to test… Zero active cases does not mean that it is over and life is returning to normal.”
Meanwhile the government is busy debating two pieces of legislation, the Covid Bill and the Quarantine Bill, which will legislate aspects of the eventual lifting of the lockdown and planned return to normal of all activity from June 2.
However the laws have come under fire from unions and civil society who say they weaken individual freedoms and workers rights.
Among the changes made will be those allowing employers to fire workers with one month salary and on short notice, while another change will allow police to enter a home without a warrant.
A statement from a collective of unions in the country warned that social discontent was currently confined but “could erupt like a social volcano at any moment”.
“We still need to make sacrifices to return to a semblance of normalcy. We are counting on the understanding of the population to not let their guard down,” said Justice Minister Maneesh Gobin.
Only three countries are in control of more than three quarters of the world’s diamond reserves globally. Data gathered and calculated by Learnbonds.com indicates that Russia, Congo, and Botswana combined account for at least 80.6% of the world diamond reserves.
Russia has the largest reserves at 650 million diamond carats, representing about 52% of the global capacity. Congo comes second with 150 million carats or 13% of the global tally while Botswana is third with reserves totaling 90 million carats in diamonds. In total, the global diamond reserves stand at about 1.1 billion million carats. South Africa and Australia also account for notable reserves at 54 and 39 million diamond carats. Other countries control reserves totaling to 120 million carats.
Our research has also overviewed diamond mine production by the end of 2019 where Russia occupied the top spot with an estimated 19 million carats in mining. Australia is in the second spot with 13 million carats followed by Congo at 12 million carats. Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa produced six, three, and two million carats respectively. Other countries produced one million diamond carats.
A carat is a unit of measurement used to specify the weight of a diamond. ‘Carat’ is a diamond industry-unique term for the weight of a diamond stone. For example, one carat is equal to 200 milligrams, a 5-carat stone will then weigh 1 gram.
Global demand for diamonds to keep rising
The study acquired by Learnbonds editorial team shows that the buy and sell demand for diamonds is projected to keep rising in the coming years. By 2050, the demand is expected to be 292 million carats, representing a growth of 88.38% from 2018’s figure of 155 million diamond carats. By 2022, the global demand will stand at 178 million diamond carats.
Four years later, the demand is calculated to grow by 12.36% to 200 million carats. Notably, the demand for diamonds might surpass the 250 million carat mark by 2038 when the figure will stand at 250 million. In general, demand is expected to keep rising.
The demand for polished diamonds is mainly driven by two major factors including geopolitical and macroeconomic. These factors tend to increase or lower consumer confidence and thus affect the demand directly.
Additionally, the demand for diamonds has been impacted by conditions surrounding the mining. For example, diamonds from parts of Africa have been classified as ‘blood diamonds’ due to lack of environmental protection policies and the use of children in mining fields like in DR Congo.
Although production has declined in recent years due to constant political turmoil, DRC holds the potential for more diamond production. Over the years, DR Congo’s diamond mining has shifted from large scale to small scale with just a small area being explored.
It is worth noting that although Russia is the world’s largest producer of gem-quality diamonds based on carat weight. However, Botswana is the only country that has a higher production value. The South African country’s position can be linked to the quality of production which includes a high proportion of large, high-quality diamond mines. In most of the countries, diamond mining is done through the open pit system.
Diamond mining reserves depleting
Apart from mining, diamonds can also be produced in laboratories in the form of synthetic diamonds. The cost of these diamonds is at least 25% lower than the cost of natural diamonds for stones of similar size and quality. However, most consumers are still demanding “natural diamonds” because the supply of lab-created diamonds is relatively small.
For years, the highlighted countries have been leading the world by consistently producing over one million carats per year. In some countries, however, difficult mining conditions due to the remote location of mines has led to shut down of mining.
In general, production rates in mines globally have been slowing down, confirming that the natural diamonds are a finite resource and will eventually be depleted unless there are new discoveries. However, the depletion period is not known.
Miners are now turning to advanced technologies and underground mining techniques to extend the lifespan of some mines. With these technologies, some closed mines have begun operations again.
The UK and some US states have set out plans for easing coronavirus lockdowns. Ultimately, any government that attempts to ease restrictions must keep a close eye on daily infection numbers and the spread of the virus. Ideally, every new case should be traced and managed.
The problem is that most countries lack the resources to test and contact-trace enough people. But our app, which is called the COVID Symptom Study and is based on some 3.4 million users in the UK, US and Sweden logging symptoms daily, could help. In a new study, published in Nature Medicine, we show that this app can estimate whether someone has COVID-19 purely based on their symptoms – with a high degree of accuracy.
The app (formerly known as the COVID Symptom Tracker) was launched by our team at King’s College London in collaboration with the health technology company ZOE (which one of us helped co-found) in March. Users are asked to say whether they are feeling well or experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19 every day. Within 14 days, with the help of social media, we gathered 2 million users, collecting vital information on the symptoms of coronavirus infection and the spread of the disease across the UK.
For our new study, which has been peer reviewed, we analysed data gathered from just under 2.5m people in the UK who had been regularly logging their health status in the app. Around a third had logged multiple symptoms associated with COVID-19. More than 15,000 people reported having had a test for coronavirus, with nearly 6,500 testing positive. We confirmed the findings with data from around 168,000 US-based users of the app – 2,736 of whom had been tested for COVID-19, with 726 testing positive. US users started participating about one week after UK ones.
We then investigated which symptoms known to be associated with COVID-19 were most likely to predict a positive test. Loss of taste and smell were particularly striking, with two thirds of users testing positive for coronavirus infection reporting them compared with just over a fifth of the participants who tested negative.
Next, we created a mathematical model that can predict with nearly 80% accuracy whether an individual is likely to have COVID-19 based on their age, sex and a combination of four key symptoms: loss of smell or taste, severe or persistent cough, fatigue and skipping meals.
The implications of this are huge: in the absence of widespread, reliable testing for coronavirus, symptom logging through the app is a simple, fast and cost-effective way to help people know whether or not they are likely to be infected and should take steps to self-isolate and get tested.
We’re now further validating our prediction model by working together in the UK with the Department of Health and Social Care’s coronavirus testing programme, offering swab testing to thousands of app users reporting new symptoms every week. In the US, we are planning studies to deploy antibody tests to see if people who reported symptoms in the past were indeed infected with the virus and if antibodies are enough to protect against another infection.
Importantly, our results suggest that loss of taste or smell is a key early warning sign of COVID-19 infection. A loss of appetite and severe fatigue also outperformed the classical symptoms like cough and fever. Focusing on just cough and fever will miss many cases. Although the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently expanded the list of symptoms, many governments like the UK have been slow to change. NHS England still lists cough and fever as main symptoms on its website.
We strongly urge governments and health authorities everywhere to broaden the range of symptoms, and advise anyone experiencing sudden loss of smell or taste to assume that they are infected and follow local self-isolation guidelines.
The detailed symptom data being collected is showing us the enormous diversity of clinical presentations of the virus, such that we are beginning to define distinct clusters over time that have different outcomes and duration. For example, multiple symptoms occurring rapidly have a better prognosis than those coming on more slowly involving fatigue and chest symptoms.
We are also finding many people with symptoms waxing and waning for over a month. Working alongside testing and contact tracing, which most governments are doing to some extent, the COVID Symptom Study app is a potential tool for getting countries out of lockdown more safely. This is especially important as testing resources will remain scarce. Gathering detailed health data from as many people as possible is an essential part of this, while also ensuring that consent and privacy are fully respected.
This data-driven approach relies on millions of people using the app to log their health on a daily basis. Even as we return to our normal lives, we need to stay vigilant - and people need to understand the full range of symptoms. We are asking people to download the app and get in the habit of spending just a minute every day checking in. The app has been endorsed and promoted by charities as well as the governments of Wales and Scotland – but not yet by NHS England.
The rapid roll-out of the COVID Symptom Study app and others like that used in Israel proves the worth of apps like this for real-time epidemiology in the immediate response to a pandemic. There’s an even larger role for the app in research.
Working together with a large team at Massachusetts General Hospital in the US and the charity Stand Up to Cancer, we are producing early data on risk factors across countries like obesity, blood pressure medication and social deprivation. We are also looking at the risk to healthcare workers. Some of this work hasn’t yet been subject to peer review, the process by which experts scrutinise each other’s work.
The COVID Symptom Study app is available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in the UK and USA as well as Sweden. Daily research updates and data which is shared with the NHS can be found here.
Tesla boss Elon Musk is making a bold stand against local California laws, but the move could very well backfire.
The billionaire entrepreneur has challenged local authorities to arrest him after reopening his California factory in violation of local coronavirus restrictions, The New Daily reported.
“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk said on Twitter.
The company, which had been closed since March 23 to help slow the spread of Covid-19, has summoned employees back to work at its Freemont plant — in defiance of local laws requiring it to stay shut, the report said.
Some hard-pressed residents in Harare have resorted to sharing face masks in desperate attempts to comply with a government directive for citizens to wear protective clothing as part of measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
Following the directive, Zimbabwean supermarkets, transporters and other public places are barring those without masks from accessing their facilities.
In terms of new health regulations, anyone found in public without a face mask faces up to one-year imprisonment or a $500 fine. For fear of falling foul of the law, some locals now share masks in order to access supermarkets.
A Harare resident said government should assist some poor locals with the protective material.
"Some people are sharing face masks to travel to places where they are required to wear them.
"We need free face masks from the government because we are at great risk of the Covid-19 pandemic," said one Harare resident.
However, some creative locals have turned old clothing into home-made masks.
"I have no money to buy face masks. In fact, I do not even have anything to eat with my children.
"I have cut this T-shirt so that we do not get into trouble with the law when we go out," said one Debra Moyo, a resident of Mabvuku high density suburb.
Taking advantage of the requirement, some people are now in the business of picking some used face masks from dumpsites and reselling them to desperate and unsuspecting locals at prices they can afford.
Disposable masks are meant to be used once and be discarded.
Credit: New Zimbabwe
Governments across the world are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside the mountain of related challenges, fake news has become a source of frustration. Some are now referring to this fake news phenomenon as a ‘disinfodemic’.
Purveyors of fake news are disseminating propaganda and disinformation. This has increased panic amongst the public and slowed the progress of the fight against the new coronavirus pandemic.
The ‘disinfodemic’ has resulted in misinformed behaviours such as drinking alcohol and applying heat to kill the virus. Some people were led to believe that the virus only affects white people, that testing kits are contaminated, and that vaccines are being tested on Africans while the truth is that a vaccine has not yet been discovered in Africa.
Other fake news purveyors purported that shaving makes face masks more effective, made up riots, and made fake claims with falsified video evidence about Nigerians burning Chinese-owned shops in response to cases of harassment of Africans in China.
These instances are just the tip of the iceberg and governments have had to adopt and implement strict measures to combat the ‘disinfodemic’. Many have been able to contain fake news by warning or arresting those spreading it.
For example, in Mauritius, a man who falsely claimed that riots had erupted after the prime minister announced the closure of supermarkets and shops, was arrested under the Information and Communication Technology Act.
In South Africa, authorities arrested people spreading the news that the virus was being spread by foreigners. And in Kenya, a 23-year-old man was arrested after he published false information with the intent to cause panic.
But these strict controls are also affecting the freedom of expression of people on the continent.
Fake news versus freedom of expression
Even before COVID-19, many African countries used libel and defamation laws, and internet shut downs to limit the freedom of expression of citizens and the media. Some are examples are Cameroon, Ethiopia, Chad, Egypt and Uganda.
With the advent of the new coronavirus, the pandemic is now being used as an excuse to further limit freedom of expression. In Tunisia for example, two bloggers who criticised their government’s response to COVID-19 were arrested.
In Mauritius, a woman who published a sarcastic meme against the government was arrested for spreading fake news. And in countries such as Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia and Zimbabwe, there are increasing cases of arrests and attacks by law enforcement and security agencies on journalists covering the pandemic.
These incidents act as a limitation to the freedom of expression of Africans, including that of the press. In this regard, on World Press Day – 3 May – the UN Secretary General emphasised the role of the press as an ‘antidote’ to the ‘disinfodemic’.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch have adopted guidelines and checklists regarding the protection of human rights. This includes the freedom of expression as COVID-19 measures are implemented.
There are also many laws at the global and regional level that require countries to uphold freedom of expression even in times of pandemics. That freedom can only be limited with justification for instance where news is proven to be fake.
Many of the arrests and attacks that are being made by government officials in different African countries are contrary to international conventions.
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects the universal freedom of expression but provides for limitations. Measures to contain fake news during COVID-19 are permissible under the protections of public health. However, these limitations do not apply when citizens critique the measures their governments have taken as long as they do not spread fake news.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression published a report last month on disease pandemics and freedom of opinion and expression. The Special Rapporteur emphasised that freedom of expression is critical to meeting the challenges of the pandemic.
The report recommended that states must still apply the test of legality, necessity and proportionality before limiting freedom of expression even in cases of public health threats. This recommendation can still be used to combat fake news as long as the impact on freedom of expression is minimal.
At the continental level, freedom of expression is protected by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa issued a recently press statement expressing concerns about internet shutdowns in African countries in the time of COVID-19.
The statement recommended that states guarantee respect and protection of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. This would be through access to the internet and social media services. The Special Rapporteur emphasised that states must not use COVID-19 as “an opportunity to establish overarching interventions”.
And the African Commission recently published its Revised Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. According to the Declaration, freedom of expression is an indispensable component of democracy. It states that no one should
be found liable for true statements, expressions of opinion, or statements which are reasonable to make in the circumstances.
Thus, African nations must ensure that they protect freedom of expression even in times of a pandemic. This must be the case unless governments are genuinely containing fake news.
African states should adopt regulations that clearly define what constitute fake news in relation to COVID-19. They must allow the citizens and the media to express themselves. The measures being taken in response to COVID-19 must be debated without fear of frivolous charges.
Finally, African governments must not use fake news during this pandemic as a shield to violate the freedom of expression of its citizens, or settle old scores with the press.
I must repeat that Africa deserves to be paid a compensation for the damages COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting on lives and livelihoods.
In their prickly reaction to my April 16 Washington Post #ChinaMustPay article (a response published in the Guardian Newspaper of May 3, 2020), the Government of China through their Embassy in Nigeria missed the opportunity to responsibly address the serious issues raised.
I must repeat that Africa deserves to be paid a compensation for the damages COVID-19 pandemic is inflicting on lives and livelihoods.
Unfortunately and unfairly, my country, Nigeria, is one of fifty-four countries in Africa that are struggling to respond to the disruptive effects of China’s failure to take responsibility for a pandemic that could have been easily contained and localized to avoid the ruin it has caused our continent and the world at large.
Since Beijing failed to adhere to basic scientific and research transparency in the critical early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, it must accept responsibility with humility. Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili
Therefore, a legitimate demand for accountability and payment of penalties by rich and powerful countries for damages their behaviors do to vulnerable people ought not to attract the kind of sour response China released.
There are six points that authorities in Beijing ought to humbly consider.
First, it is now clear to the world that China’s opaque handling of the pandemic is costing my country, our continent and people too much in lost lives and livelihoods. The unjustified suffering of the poor and vulnerable brought on by the actions of a comparatively rich and powerful country demands a new system for addressing global inequities.
I maintain that information in the public domain points to the fact that China suppressed vital information from the rest of the world on COVID-19. The burden to present convincing counter-factual information lies with China and,so far, it has failed to do so.
Second, I assert again that China owes Africa yet-to-be-estimated compensation. Its acts of negligence in December and early January resulted in a fast-spreading global pandemic that collapsed the continent’s economic growth from 2.9% in 2019 to negative 5.1% in 2020. Most importantly, China should, in the interim, take responsibility and ease the severe fiscal pressure on our countries, by announcing a cancellation of over $140 Billion in loans its government, contractors and banks have advanced to Africa over the last two decades.
Following this debt cancelation, an international consortium made up of the G20, China, Africa Union Commission and global institutions like the United Nations, World Bank and IMF should be constituted to assess the full extent of damages and the compensation due.
Third, Chinese authorities should know that we are Africans who are not lackeys of any power. Laying a baseless charge of “dancing to the tune of others” to an African reveals an appalling mindset toward our continent. It may in fact be this same sort of attitude that frames the extremely offensive profiling of Africans who are resident in China.
We do not dance to the drumbeat of any country or any continent -- our sole tune is the African Beat.
Fourth, the spirit of transparency ought to be in China’s own interest. It is intriguing that Beijing has so far failed to embrace my suggestion to allow an Independent International Panel of Experts to review and assess China’s handling of the COVID19 pandemic. Why? Is China afraid of full disclosure that can help the world learn vital lessons on how to manage global threats and risks better?
Fifth, this global New Normal requires faster prevention of cross-border risks and threats. The best antidotes to minimize global negative externalities that harm the weak and vulnerable are absolute transparency and removal of information asymmetries by countries.
As part of this New Normal, the global community has a duty to learn and correct past failures to penalize bad behavior. My #ChinaMustPay article is a call therefore to innovate global mechanisms that compel countries to start now to do the right things whenever risks and threats emerge.
Innovation is what China rode on to economic greatness. What then is wrong with asking for such as a legitimate part of our global New Normal?
Sixth, it should be in China’s historic and conscientious national interest to prevent future exploitation of vulnerable countries by economic supwerpowers. I did acknowledge previous global risks that similarly emanated from other rich and powerful countries and injured Africa’s economic growth and development. I find it hard to believe that China, given its history and experience with colonial mistreatment, would want this cyclical pattern to continue. Do the authorities in Beijing really want Africans to simply accept harmful actions of rich and powerful countries?
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in an April 2020 report on coronavirus pandemic stated that “over 300,000 Africans may lose their lives due to COVID-19.” According to the Africa Union Commission, the coronavirus is already collapsing many economies in Africa and worsening poverty. Already, the livelihoods of hundreds of millions on the continent, especially children, young people and women are already lost to the damaging economic disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The IMF calls the impact of the pandemic on Africa as “the worst reading on record”. It went further to state that Africa’s “Fiscal space is limited, and fiscal financing needs to address the crisis are large - at least $114 billion for this year”. International rating agencies have massively downgraded the credit ratings of African countries making investors more skittish.
I proposed a penalty system in the form of a Global Risk Burden Tax that will from now be payable to weaker and more vulnerable countries and their people whenever forced to bear a disproportionate burden from preventable global risks that emanate from rich and powerful countries.Such penalty tax would also serve as a disincentive to prevent the kind of unbecoming actions and decisions that escalated the spread of the deadly virus out of Wuhan.
China must know that where our lives and livelihoods are concerned, no country, regardless of how powerful it may be, can intimidate us Africans ever again.
Beijing should do the right thing now and accept the debt it owes Africa as a result of its failures on COVID-19. That is how responsible world powers should behave in the 21st Century if they are to be taken seriously.
Ezekwesili is the former vice-president for the Africa region at the World Bank and the former minister of education for Nigeria. She is the co-convener of #BringBackOurGirls Movement.
Floods are the second most prevalent and devastating natural disasters in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2000 and 2019 floods accounted for 64% of all disaster events in the region.
They affected the livelihoods of about 53 million people and killed more than 14,000. Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique were hit severely over this period.
Policies and strategies to confront the increasing flood frequency and deaths on the continent are on international, regional and national agendas. Most of these documents acknowledge that information is an important resource for flood preparedness. The recent World Disaster Report, for example, states that the impact of floods has reduced in some parts of the world because the general public obtained useful information about the risk and acted on it.
Mass information campaigns through radio, TV, newspapers, audio vans and weather reports have been ramped up globally in the past decade to improve flood disaster awareness. Such efforts are premised on the idea that people’s ability to prepare depends on getting the right information about the flood. They need to know – in clear language, at the right time – what might happen and when, and what they can do.
Unfortunately, it appears that efforts in flood risk communication haven’t always helped the general public to prepare better.
Ghana’s government conducts flood education campaigns annually before the rainy season. But in the country’s flood-prone informal settlements, where about 62% of the urban population reside, floods still have devastating consequences. In one of the most recent floods in the Greater Accra region in June 2015, one-third of the 152 fatalities were within or around informal settlements.
Our study set out to investigate the effect of community participation in strengthening the relationship between disaster risk information dissemination and disaster preparedness. We chose three flood-prone communities (Old Fadama, Nima and Kotobabi) in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. We developed a model to test whether communities prepared better for flood disasters when they have been involved in communicating information. The study was undertaken a few months after the June 2015 disaster.
Our study showed that information that is accessible, comprehensive, and tailored to the needs of flood-prone populations strongly influences intentions to prepare. But this is only when city authorities make it possible for the public to get clarity and support to act on the information.
This insight shows how disaster management professionals and policy makers can integrate the cultural, social and value systems of a community into the communication process. Risk should be clearly communicated in languages that are understood locally and information must be channeled through traditional and community institutions.
Flooding in Accra
The government carries out educational campaigns on radio, TV and other media through the National Disaster Management Organisation, Ghana Meteorological Agency and National Commission for Civic Education. These campaigns talk about the type of hazard, areas to be affected, potential damage and in some cases preventive measures. But they don’t involve the active participation of the public.
There’s a need to revisit this one-way information flow, and instead encourage dialogue between experts and the public. This could happen when public authorities build a good relationship with communities. A sustained relationship builds trust. This could in turn give communities the confidence to share experiences of their response to floods.
Our study results showed that providing flood information to the public instigates discussions among community members but has little impact on preventive action. It’s more persuasive when the public is actively engaged in discussions with experts on flood risk preparedness. This should be on transparent and open platforms where experts readily address people’s doubts and uncertainties.
The study revealed that regular engagement between experts and the public is an opportunity to clarify messages, seek additional information and build trust. This can influence positive behavioural changes in terms of flood preparedness.
Participatory disaster risk communication
The risk of climate-related disasters worldwide is growing, especially in developing regions. To build local resilience, disaster management experts and policymakers must make community participation the core element of risk communication to the public.
Our study showed that the level of community participation matters when it comes to disaster preparedness. When people get information in an engaging and interactive manner, their behaviour changes in positive ways. As one respondent quipped:
Give me more information but also seek my views and experiences; then I will act.
The public shouldn’t just receive information but take an active part in what is communicated and how, so that it is useful in their local circumstances.
Matthew Abunyewah, Sessional lecturer, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle; Kim Maund, Discipline Head – Construction Management, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle; Seth Asare Okyere, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, and Thayaparan Gajendran, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina on Monday batted away criticism for promoting a homegrown “remedy” for COVID-19, charging that the West has a condescending attitude toward traditional African medicine.
“If it wasn’t Madagascar, and if it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy, would there be so much doubt? I don’t think so,” he told French media in an interview.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly warned that the COVID-Organics infusion, which Rajoelina has touted as a remedy against the deadly coronavirus, has not been clinically tested.
The drink is derived from artemisia — a plant with proven anti-malarial properties — and other indigenous herbs.
“African scientists… should not be underestimated,” he told France 24 and Radio France International (RFI).
“I think the problem is that (the drink) comes from Africa and they can’t admit… that a country like Madagascar… has come up with this formula to save the world,” said Rajoelina, who claims the infusion cures patients within 10 days.
Already Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Tanzania have taken delivery of consignments of the potion, which was launched last month.
“No country or organisation will keep us from going forward,” Rajoelina said in response to the WHO’s concerns.
He said proof of the tonic’s efficacy was in “the healing of our sick”.
Madagascar has officially reported 183 coronavirus infections and 105 recoveries, with no deaths.
“The patients who were cured were cured through the administration of COVID-Organics alone,” the president said.
He referred to the remedy as “an improved traditional medicine”, adding that Madagascar was not conducting clinical trials but “clinical observations” in accordance with WHO guidelines.
By Agence France-Presse
Cape Town International has once again won the top spot as the best airport in Africa for the fifth consecutive time.
The airport takes top honours in the prestigious Skytrax World Airport Awards, which are regarded as a quality benchmark for the world airport industry, assessing customer service and facilities across over 550 airports. The awards began in 1999, and are voted for by customers over a six-month survey period.
According to Skytrax, over 100 customer nationalities participated in the 2019-2020 survey. The survey evaluated the customer experience across airport service and product key performance indicators from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security and immigration through to departure at the gate.
Cape Town International ranked as number one in Africa and came in 23rd place globally.
“During this challenging time, this award is a beacon of hope for all in the tourism industry, signifying that when we are ready to welcome visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape, we will be ready to once again offer them the excellent service they have become accustomed to receiving,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.
CEO of Cape Town International, Deon Cloete proudly welcomed the ranking, saying, “All of this would not be possible without the collaboration of the Provincial and City structures especially Air Access. We’re extremely proud of this accolade. Well done to all involved!”
Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, adds, “Cape Town International Airport once again proves itself a world-class airport based on a global benchmark for airline excellence. The Cape Town Air Access team is proud of this accolade for the airports industry and is working hard on recovery plans.”