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Patriarchy promotes both rape and men‘s promiscuity

Rebecca (not her real name, of course) was gang-raped by a group of 20 armed men in Harare! Hair-raising news of this nature is always hitting news headlines.


In fact Rebecca   's ordeal is a summarized version of what is happening not only in Harare, in particular, and the entire country, in general, but across the globe, where hardly a day elapses without having heard that so and so got raped.


The problem, as I see it, revolves around patriarchal cultures. Such cultures do encourage men to have incredible sexual prowess and to take delight in feeding on a diet of sexual aggression, a phenomenon that normally finds expression in rape or promotes rape. This is the entry point of gender based violence.


Despite some protestations to the contrary, most, if not all societies, the world over, are patriarchal, that is male dominated. Save for a few countries such as India, Malawi and Botswana, all other countries in the world are deeply rooted in male domination. And the cultural gown of patriarchy has a few patches of matriarchy. Ironically, this was also the case with the U.K, during the Victorian Age (1837-1901) , in spite of the fact that Queen Victorian was the major player in the title picture then , and hence the use of such terms as ‘anaclitic love’ and ‘masochism ‘(taking delight in suffering) for women ‘and’ nascissism’ for males.    


But what is culture? According to the Merriam Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus ,cited in Encyclopaedia Britannica (2015) ,it  is 'the integrated pattern of human knowledge ,belief and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations .It is the customary beliefs ,social  norms ,and material traits of a racial ,religious or social group'. In other words it is  everything that sets one group  of people apart from others as a distinct entity and encompasses such phenomena as dressing, language, mannerisms ,customs, norms and values and  the whole way of life of life, in general.


Culture influences our world outlook (philosophy), in general, as reflectedenshrined in both our religion and laws and this was and is still mirrored in our behaviour and devil-may-care attitudes towards women. Sadly Attitudes are die-hards, especially bad ones .Unlike intelligence, that is inborn, culture is acquired through socialization, a life-long process by which the norms and values of society are inculcated into one from birth to death.

In a classical patriarchal society men perceive women as sex toys to manipulate or objects of male sexual gratification. And the situation is even worse in societies where recreational facilities are very scarce and abusing women becomes a form of entertainment.  From a tender age young boys are taught poems which glorify sex, poems which they have to rote learn stanza by stanza .And by the time they reach adulthood they would be able to rehearse those poems up to mountain tops and having to unlearn that message overnight is a mammoth task.


I need to repeat ,for emphasis ‘sake , that  even in this age  of  enlightenment ,indeed  nothing pleases a  man ,who is worth his salt, more  than the mere knowledge that he is responsible for the emotional being of a multiplicity of sexual partners. Which is why male polygamy, known as polygyny, and not the female polyandry one, is mostly fashionable. Which is also why even King Solomon, in spite of the fact that he is the wisest known man, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. (1 Kings 11:3ff).

Such men have an unquenchable sexual appetite and it is no hyperbole to assert that they would salivate at the mere sight of a woman.  Against this background, men who fell prey to HIV/AIDS and other STDs were ironically glorified 'Bhuru rinorwa rinoonekwa namavanga'(A bull that has fighting prowess can easily be identifiable through its multi bruises!.)  In a bygone era an ideal man had to have extra-ordinary abilities of seducing as many women as possible.

In sharp contrast to women who were animals of prey, men were marauding sexual predators and armed to the teeth with Cupid ‘(the Greek god of love) s bows and arrows to hunt in a thick jungle of love where his arrow rarely missed targets.
If this intimacy cannot be attained through fair means then it must be through foul ones such as rape .In this regard ,some sex crazy men ,and macho women alike,  are daring  to , and are always ready and raring to use magic ,known as mubobobo ,in order to sexually  ravage a person who has never given consent  to and  is not even aware that someone else is busy feasting on her him.


Needless to say, a patriarchal society is highly macho and its machismo is demonstrable through the subordination or violation of the rights of women.  Rape is thus one of the many tools or instrument of bringing women under control! During war times the situation is even worse when members of the weaker sex are gang-raped in-order to boost the ego of these men as well as serving the insatiable sexual drive of sex starved soldiers. In case the reader is of a nervous disposition, this writer will not venture into the plight of illegal female travellers who suffer at the hands of these gang rapists at border posts. And during war-times  it was not uncommon  for  soldiers  to rape a ‘sell-out ‘’s wife in full view of the husband  as a way of punishing  him. But who is the victim here? And what is rape?   


By definition rape is a deviant and or forcible sexual encounter between a man and a woman. In most jurisdictions, ( in which the offence is regulated by the Roman Dutch Common Law), this offence  ,as evidenced by  its definitional elements ,can only be committed by men save for a few  countries like Botswana. Though it is mostly men who are rapists some women are also perpetrators of  this vice and  hence we see in Genesis 39:6-15 ,for instance ,Portipher 's wife almost forcing herself onto  young Joseph ,the romantic magnet who was renowned for his ‘’beauty’’.Which is why in such countries  as the latter the term has had to be redefined and is now gender neutral`


It   is defined as' any person who  has unlawful carnal knowledge of another person, or who causes the penetration of a sexual   organ or instrument ,of whatever nature ,into the person of another , for the purposes of sexual gratification ,or who causes the penetration of another person ‘s sexual  organ into his or her own person ,without the consent of such other person ,or with such person ‘s consent ,if the consent is obtained by force or means of threats or intimidation of any kind ,by fear of bodily harm ,or by means of false pretences as to the nature of the act ,or, in the case of a married person ,by personating the person ‘s spouse ,is guilty of the offence termed rape’(section 141: of the Botswana penal code) .

According to the modern ,statutory , definition the offence of rape is not confined to reproductive organs but also through any object  such as a broom and through any opening such as the nose, ear and mouth if it is for sexual gratification!.   
Because patriarchy protects female offenders and discourages male victims from laying a charge, due to potential scorn from mainstream society, these culprits will continue with their deviant sexual practice. As a result patriarchy promotes female rape also. After all, and as mentioned earlier on, the well-to –do ,over-assertive  women , do  brag that they are also men and hence the machismo qualities.


This writer will also include both marital and statutory rape. Statutory rape (defilement) ,though  it involves consent, that consent is not informed given that the victim has not reached a level of mental development to a point whereby shehe fully appreciates the nature and or  implications of the act. Obsessed with the desire to feel youngish, some old sugar daddies and, jelly mummies alike, deflower the youngsters and that is indeed disturbing. How about girl children who are peddling their flesh? .Could her client also be dragged before the courts for statutory rape?


Marital rape, on the other hand, is non-consensual sexual encounter occurring within the bedroom between spouses. Unfortunately countries which are rooted in the patriarchal Roman -Dutch Common Law have the marital rape exemption clause which says there is no rape within wedlock. According to this reasoning, the payment of lobola , an integral part of  our highly patriarchal African culture ,means a wife has surrendered her conjugal rights to her husband ,even if she suspects that her husband has a risky sexual behaviour which can easily put her life in danger.


Due to lack of time and space, this writer will not venture into forced wife inheritance, another aspect of a patriarchal culture, and this practice also amounts to rape. Other similar victims are girlfriends who are raped during dates. And even 'ladies of the night' in some cases fall prey also.


 Perpetrators of rape usually raise such lame excuses  as: the lady is my girl-friend or whore; the woman was moving alone at an ungodly hour; that the victim did not fight back or scream for help(As we have noted in the statutory definition above rape does not always involve physical force); that in agreeing to come for a date she was prepared for this eventuality; that the victim was putting on such provocative outfit as the so-called miniskirt which was in essence nothing but a belt wound around her waist in such a way that nothing was left to imagination , thereby moving around naked and therefore advertising her thighs; or   putting on a skin hugging outfit that tends to hug one 's body in such a way that people can  easily enumerate all the contours of her mountainous  pair of guitar-shaped bums.


To the man concerned the lady was beckoning at him through action and action speaks louder than words. The macho-man would not want to betray his manhood by letting ‘the offer’ go. It is very strange indeed ,but not surprising  in these macho societies , that men would want to prescribe what women should wear while the latter sex is  not allowed that right and this is unconstitutional.(see section 15 of the  Botswana  Constitution  on the Equality and Non Discrimination Clause).After all ,due to global warming ,the weather is getting hotter and hotter with each passing day and ,women ,through miniskirts ,need fresh air and ,besides ,our democratic societies’ law provide for  freedom of dressing.

Additionally, dressing does not have a bearing on whether or not one’s conduct is decorous or has the praiseworthy features of human conduct. Also our constitutions provide for freedom of movement (see section 14 of the Botswana Constitution).


Be that as it may, as long there was no consent the common denominator is force and hence rape. The ground of justification, in a charge of rape, is consent, known in Latin as volenti non fit injuria. This defence must comply with a number of requirements and one of them is that it must have been given before the act. This means if the victim withdraws that consent before or during the encounter and the culprit nevertheless proceeds against the wishes of this ‘sex toy’, he can still be convicted of rape. In the same vein consent should not be after the act (post facto).

The following circumstances, inter alia, make a person incapable of consenting: those sleeping, in a drunken stupor, under hypnosis or the insane (an exception, however, is, in principle, during the lucidum intevellum period), youthfulness.
In some extreme cases someday old toddlers oftentimes fall victim to such sexually avaricious men. Maybe toddlers are also expected to be in long nappies too! That is a show or manifestation of manhood and it is hardly surprisingly then that men are oftentimes equated to a bull which hardly recognizes any boundaries when it comes to sex .Sadly, this archaic perception of manhood used to be an integral part of our culture.


 Such sick rapists, most of whom are business tycoons, do that out of the mistaken belief that this practice may boost their business fortune. Others harbour the misconception that intimacy with kids would cure their HIV/AIDS status and false prophets and medicine men are equally to blame for spreading this myth. Similarly, such spiritual men, whose minds are rooted in patriarchy, tend to force themselves onto their clients who are desperate for a cure or, alternatively, misrepresent the   nature and or effects of the act.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 10)

9th July 2020

Ever heard of a 666-type beast known as Fort Detrick?

Located in the US state of Maryland, about 80 km removed from Washington DC, Fort Detrick houses the US army’s top virus research laboratory. It has been identified as “home to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with its bio-defense agency, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and  also hosts the National Cancer Institute-Frederick and the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research and National Interagency Biodefense Campus”.

The 490-hectare campus researches the world’s deadliest pathogens, including Anthrax (in 1944, the Roosevelt administration ordered 1 million anthrax bombs from Fort Detrick), Ebola, smallpox, and … you guessed right: coronaviruses.  The facility, which carries out paid research projects for government agencies (including the CIA), universities and drug companies most of whom owned by the highly sinister military-industrial complex, employs 900 people.

Between 1945 and 1969, the sprawling complex (which has since become the US’s ”bio-defence centre” to put it mildly) was the hub of the US biological weapons programme. It was at Fort Detrick that Project MK Ultra, a top-secret CIA quest to subject   the human mind to routine robotic manipulation, a monstrosity the CIA openly owned up to in a congressional inquisition in 1975, was carried out.  In the consequent experiments, the guinea pigs comprised not only of people of the forgotten corner of America – inmates, prostitutes and the homeless but also prisoners of war and even regular US servicemen.

These unwitting participants underwent up to a 20-year-long ordeal of barbarous experiments involving psychoactive drugs (such as LSD), forced electroshocks, physical and sexual abuses, as well as a myriad of other torments. The experiments not only violated international law, but also the CIA’s own charter which forbids domestic activities. Over 180 doctors and researchers took part in these horrendous experiments and this in a country which touts itself as the most civilised on the globe!

Was the coronavirus actually manufactured at Fort Detrick (like HIV as I shall demonstrate at the appropriate time) and simply tactfully patented to other equally cacodemonic places such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China?

THE FORT DETRICK SCIENTISTS’ PROPHECY WAS WELL-INFORMED

 

About two years before the term novel coronavirus became a familiar feature in day-to-day banter, two scientist cryptically served advance warning of its imminence. They were Allison Totura and Sina Bavari, both researchers at Fort Detrick.

The two scientists talked of “novel highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may emerge from animal reservoir hosts”, adding, “These coronaviruses may have the potential to cause devastating pandemics due to unique features in virus biology including rapid viral replication, broad host range, cross-species transmission, person-to-person transmission, and lack of herd immunity in human populations  Associated with novel respiratory syndromes, they move from person-to-person via close contact and can result in high morbidity and mortality caused by the progression to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).”

All the above constitute some of the documented attributes and characteristics of the virus presently on the loose – the propagator of Covid-19. A recent clinical review of Covid-19 in The Economist seemed to bear out this prognostication when it said, “It is ARDS that sees people rushed to intensive-care units and put on ventilators”. As if sounding forth a veritable prophecy, the two scientists besought governments to start working on counter-measures there and then that could be “effective against such a virus”.

Well, it was not by sheer happenstance that Tortura and Bavari turned out to have been so incredibly and ominously prescient. They had it on good authority, having witnessed at ringside what the virus was capable of in the context of their own laboratory.  The gory scenario they painted for us came not from secondary sources but from the proverbial horse’s mouth folks.

CDC’S RECKLESS ADMISSION

In March this year, Robert Redfield, the US  Director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  told the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee that it had transpired that some members of the American populace  who were certified as having died of influenza  turned out to have harboured the novel coronavirus per posthumous analysis of their tissue.

Redfield was not pressed to elaborate but the message was loud and clear – Covid-19 had been doing the rounds in the US much earlier than it was generally supposed and that the extent to which it was mistaken for flu was by far much more commonplace than was openly admitted. An outspoken Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, seized on this rather casual revelation and insisted that the US disclose further information, exercise transparency on coronavirus cases and provide an explanation to the public.

But that was not all the beef Zhao had with the US. He further charged that the coronavirus was possibly transplanted to China by the US: whether inadvertently or by deliberate design he did not say.  Zhao pointed to the Military World Games of October 2019, in which US army representatives took part, as the context in which the coronavirus irrupted into China. Did the allegation ring hollow or there was a ring of truth to it?

THE BENASSIE FACTOR

The Military World Games, an Olympic-style spectrum of competitive action, are held every four years. The 2019 episode took place in Wuhan, China. The 7th such, the games ran from October 18 to October 27.  The US contingent comprised of 17 teams of over 280 athletes, plus an innumerable other staff members. Altogether, over 9000 athletes from 110 countries were on hand to showcase their athletic mettle in more than 27 sports. All NATO countries were present, with Africa on its part represented by 30 countries who included Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Besides the singular number of participants, the event notched up a whole array of firsts. One report spelt them out thus: “The first time the games were staged outside of military bases, the first time the games were all held in the same city, the first time an Athletes’ Village was constructed, the first time TV and VR systems were powered by 5G telecom technology, and the first use of all-round volunteer services for each delegation.”

Now, here is the clincher: the location of the guest house for the US team was located in the immediate neighbourhood of the Wuhan Seafood Market, the place the Chinese authorities to this day contend was the diffusion point of the coronavirus. But there is more: according to some reports, the person who allegedly but unwittingly transmitted the virus to the people milling about the market – Patient Zero of Covid-19 – was one Maatie Benassie.

Benassie, 52, is a security officer of Sergeant First Class rank at the Fort Belvoir military base in Virginia and took part in the 50-mile cycling road race in the same competitions. In the final lap, she was accidentally knocked down by a fellow contestant and sustained a fractured rib and a concussion though she soldiered on and completed the race with the agonising adversity.  Inevitably, she saw a bit of time in a local health facility.   According to information dug up by George Webb, an investigative journalist based in Washington DC,     Benassie would later test positive for Covid-19 at the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Incidentally, Benassie apparently passed on the virus to other US soldiers at the games, who were hospitalised right there in China before they were airlifted back to the US. The US government straightaway prohibited the publicising of details on the matter under the time-honoured excuse of “national security interests”, which raised eyebrows as a matter-of-course. As if that was not fishy enough, the US out of the blue tightened Chinese visas to the US at the conclusion of the games.

The rest, as they say, is history: two months later, Covid-19 had taken hold on China territory.  “From that date onwards,” said one report, “one to five new cases were reported each day. By December 15, the total number of infections stood at 27 — the first double-digit daily rise was reported on December 17 — and by December 20, the total number of confirmed cases had reached 60.”

TWO CURIOUS RESEARCH HALTINGS

Is it a coincidence that all the US soldiers who fell ill at the Wuhan games did their preparatory training at the Fort Belvoir military base, only a 15-minutes’  drive from Fort Detrick?

That Fort Detrick is a plain-sight perpetrator of pathogenic evils is evidenced by a number of highly suspicious happenings concerning it. Remember the 2001 anthrax mailing attacks on government and media houses which killed five people right on US territory? The two principal suspects who puzzlingly were never charged, worked as microbiologists at Fort Detrick. Of the two, Bruce Ivins, who was the more culpable, died in 2008 of “suicide”. For “suicide”, read “elimination”, probably because he was in the process of spilling the beans and therefore cast the US government in a stigmatically diabolical light. Indeed, the following year, all research projects at Fort Detrick were suspended on grounds that the institute was “storing pathogens not listed   in its database”. The real truth was likely much more reprehensible.

In 2014, there was a mini local pandemic in the US which killed thousands of people and which the mainstream media were not gutsy enough to report. It arose following the weaponisation at Fort Detrick of the H7N9 virus, prompting the Obama administration to at once declare a moratorium on the research and withdraw funding.

The Trump administration, however, which has a pathological fixation on undoing practically all the good Obama did, reinstated the research under new rigorous guidelines in 2017. But since old habits die hard, the new guidelines were flouted at will, leading to another shutdown of the whole research gamut at the institute in August 2019.  This, nonetheless, was not wholesale as other areas of research, such as experiments to make bird flu more transmissible and which had begun in 2012, proceeded apace. As one commentator pointedly wondered aloud, was it really necessary to study how to make H5N1, which causes a type of bird flu with an eye-popping mortality rate, more transmissible?

Consistent with its character, the CDC was not prepared to furnish particulars upon issuing the cease and desist order, citing “national security reasons”. Could the real reason have been the manufacture of the novel coronavirus courtesy of a tip-off by the more scrupulous scientists?

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Masisi faces ultimate test of his presidency

9th July 2020

President Mokgweetsi Masisi may have breathed a huge sigh of relief when he emerged victorious in last year’s 2019 general elections, but the ultimate test of his presidency has only just begun.

From COVID-19 pandemic effects; disenchanted unemployed youth, deteriorating diplomatic relations with neighbouring South Africa as well as emerging instability within the ruling party — Masisi has a lot to resolve in the next few years.

Last week we started an unwanted cold war with Botswana’s main trade partner, South Africa, in what we consider an ill-conceived move. Never, in the history of this country has Botswana shown South Africa a cold shoulder – particularly since the fall of the apartheid regime.

It is without a doubt that our country’s survival depends on having good relations with South Africa. As the Chairperson of African National Congress (ANC), Gwede Mantashe once said, a good relationship between Botswana and South Africa is not optional but necessary.

No matter how aggrieved we feel, we should never engage in a diplomatic war — with due respect to other neighbours— with South Africa. We will never gain anything from starting a diplomatic war with South Africa.

In fact, doing so will imperil our economy, given that majority of businesses in the retail sector and services sector are South African companies.

Former cabinet minister and Phakalane Estates proprietor, David Magang once opined that Botswana’s poor manufacturing sector and importation of more than 80 percent of the foodstuffs from South Africa, effectively renders Botswana a neo-colony of the former.

Magang’s statement may look demeaning, but that is the truth, and all sorts of examples can be produced to support that. Perhaps it is time to realise that as a nation, we are not independent enough to behave the way we do. And for God’s sake, we are a landlocked country!

Recently, the effects of COVID-19 have exposed the fragility of our economy; the devastating pleas of the unemployed and the uncertainty of the future. Botswana’s two mainstay source of income; diamonds and tourism have been hit hard. Going forward, there is a need to chart a new pathway, and surely it is not an easy task.

The ground is becoming fertile for uprisings that are not desirable in any country. That the government has not responded positively to the rising unemployment challenge is the truth, and very soon as a nation we will wake up to this reality.

The magnitude of the problem is so serious that citizens are running out of patience. The government on the other hand has not done much to instil confidence by assuring the populace that there is a plan.

The general feeling is that, not much will change, hence some sections of the society, will try to use other means to ensure that their demands are taken into consideration. Botswana might have enjoyed peace and stability in the past, but there is guarantee that, under the current circumstances, the status quo will be maintained.

It is evident that, increasingly, indigenous citizens are becoming resentful of naturalised and other foreign nationals. Many believe naturalised citizens, especially those of Indian origin, are the major beneficiaries in the economy, while the rest of the society is side-lined.

The resentfulness is likely to intensify going forward. We needed not to be heading in this direction. We needed not to be racist in our approach but when the pleas of the large section of the society are ignored, this is bound to happen.

It is should be the intention of every government that seeks to strive on non-racialism to ensure that there is shared prosperity. Share prosperity is the only way to make people of different races in one society to embrace each other, however, we have failed in this respect.

Masisi’s task goes beyond just delivering jobs and building a nation that we all desire, but he also has an immediate task of achieving stability within his own party. The matter is so serious that, there are threats of defection by a number of MPs, and if he does not arrest this, his government may collapse before completing the five year mandate.

The problems extend to the party itself, where Masisi found himself at war with his Secretary General, Mpho Balopi. The war is not just the fight for Central Committee position, but forms part of the succession plan.

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The Corona Coronation (Part 9)

29th June 2020
Michael Mellaham

If we are to go by what I can term as conventional wisdom, the coronavirus arose in China’s Hubei province in the city of Wuhan. According to the WHO, the Chinese government filed the country’s first confirmed Covid-19 case with the international health regulator on December 8, 2019, with the first case outside of China’s boarders reported in Thailand on January 13, 2020.

We now know, however, courtesy of a paper in The Lancet that was authored by doctors from Wuhan’s Jinhintan Hospital, that the first such case was logged on December 1. We have also come to learn that in point of fact, the first patient, the so-called Patient Zero, may have presented with the as yet unfathomed Covid-9 symptoms in a public health facility on November 17. This is according to a report in the South China Morning Post, which claims to have seen classified medical government reports.

The Post report says nine cases of Covid-19 sufferers, aged between 39 and 79, were attended to during the month of November alone and that a total of 266 people officially had the disease by December 31st. Clearly, the disease had been sedately circulating for some time before it exploded towards the end of the year considering that a great number of people do not present symptoms at all.

Yet the fact the disease was first announced in China and even laboratory-spawned in that country does not necessarily mean China was its veritable place of origin. It almost certainly had multiple origins and may have occurred much earlier in other places on the globe.

AMERICA’S FLU ILLNESS TSUNAMI

Unbeknownst to much of the world, Covid-19 struck in Europe and the USA about the same time it did so in China, if not much earlier, it has now emerged. This is not tabloid hogwash or simply idle gossip folks: it was reported by the highly estimable news outlets such as NBC News and The New York Times. Even Newsweek, which along with Time magazine constitute America’s leading two weekly political magazines, was adamant that the coronavirus outbreak must have occurred as early as September 2019 and that Wuhan was possibly not its birthplace as such. For some reason (or is it for partisan reasons?), the globally renowned broadcast media networks like CNN, BBC, and Sky News have chosen to self-gag on the matter.

If there’s one disease which is so notoriously recurrent and even death-dealing in the US, it is influenza – commonly referred to as the flu or common cold. Here in Africa, flu is no much of a big deal: it is so mild I personally do not know – nor have ever heard of – a single one person who died of flu. In the US, flu is some menace. For instance, in the 2017-18 season, over 61,000 deaths were linked to flu, and in the 2018-19 season, 34,200 succumbed to the disease. Every year, 10 percent of the US population, or 32 million people, contract flu, though only about 100,000 end up being hospitalised anyway.

In the US, the flu season ordinarily runs from October to May, straddling three of the country’s four-season set, namely fall (September to November), winter (December to February), and spring (March to May). The disease is particularly widespread in 16 states. Last year, the winter flu season began atypically early and with a big bang that had never been seen in 15 years according to a December 6, 2019 report by Associated Press (AP), a wire news agency. By the beginning of December or thereabouts, 1.7 million flu illnesses, 16,000 hospitalisations, and 900 flu-related deaths had taken place.

The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) put the number of people already dead from flu-related illnesses as of mid-March 2019 at between 29,000 and 59,000. This was in addition to the misery of hundreds of thousands of flu-related hospitalisations and millions of medical visits for flu symptoms that have raged in the course of the season. Some hospitals in New Orleans have reported the busiest patient traffic ever at their emergency departments.

Health authorities in Louisiana, which was the first to be impinged, said flu-like illnesses began to rocket in the month of October. Said the AP report: “There are different types of flu viruses, and the one causing illnesses in most parts of the country is a surprise.” Dave Osthus, a flu statistician at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, was quoted as saying, “This could be a precursor to something pretty bad. But we don’t know what that is.”
Well, maybe we can venture an answer to the conundrum: the flu situation was exacerbated by the coronavirus.

THE CASE OF A NEW JERSEY MAYOR

The story of Michael Mellaham, the mayor of the New Jersey city of Belleville, has been widely reported in the Western world, albeit in the comparatively fringe media houses primarily lest the finger of indictment shift from China to the US. Sometime in November last year, Mellaham came down with an ailment that presented with Covid-19-like symptoms such as aches, high fevers, chills, and a sore throat, the latter of which went on for a full month.
Right at the onset of his diseased condition, Mellaham went to see his doctor, who told him not to worry as it was little more than flu and would peter out in a matter of days. The illness lingered for much longer though he at long last fought it off. It was the sickest he had ever been in his adult life.

In April this year, Mellaham took a Covid-19 test and he was found not with Covid-19 per se but its antibodies, which crystal-clearly evinced he had the disease at some stage in the recent past. This is what he told China Global Television Network (CGTN) in May: “We’re told that they (people with Covid-19-like symptoms) don’t have the flu. They just have bronchitis. They just have a bad cough or it’s a bad cold. I think that we just weren’t expecting Covid-19 then, so therefore the doctors didn’t know what to call it or what to expect.”

Of the credibility of the test he took, known as IgM (Immunoglobulin M Test), the first antibody a body makes when it fights a new infection, Mellaham said, “The IgM is the more recent antibody, which would have shown that that antibody is more recent in my system, that my body more recently fought the coronavirus.”

The first publicly admitted case of coronavirus-triggered morbidity in the US was announced in January this year and involved a Californian who had recently returned from Wuhan, but as Mellaham pointedly put it, “that doesn’t mean it wasn’t here (on US soil) before that”.

SUDDENLY “MANY PIXELS”

On May 7, 2020, The New York Times reported of two men aged 57 and 69 who died in their homes in Santa Clara, California, on February 6 and 17 respectively, and this was 23 days before the US announced its first Covid-19 fatality in Kirkland, Washington, on February 29. Their demise was attributed to flu post-mortem but it later emerged that they had been victims of the novel coronavirus. Since they had never travelled outside their community for years, they must have contracted the disease within the locality.

The Santa Clara county’s chief medical office Sarah Cody said the deaths of the two was probably the tip of the iceberg of unknown size. Dr Jeffrey Smith, the Santa Clara county executive, he too a medical doctor, opined that the coronavirus must have been spreading in California unrecognised for a long time now.

Indeed, if we take stock of the fact that passengers on board the Grand Princess cruise ship, which departed California on February 11, developed Covid-19 whilst on board, the odds certainly are that Covid-19 hit much earlier in the US than it hit the headlines. As Cody pointedly put it, “We had so few pixels you could hardly pick out the image. Suddenly, we have so many pixels all of sudden that we now realise we didn’t know what we were looking for.”

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

In Europe, a radiology research team at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Colma, France, has traced the first Covid-19 case in that country to November 16, 2019 according to reports by NBC News and The New York Times. The researchers came to this finding after examining 2500 chest X-rays taken from November 1, 2019 to April 30 this year.

French authorities declared the first Covid-19 case on January 24 having detected it in three nationals who had recently been to China, though it has now transpired that whilst one finger was point to China, four were point back at France itself.

It came to light last month that a sample taken from a French patient with pneumonia on December 27 subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus. “There’s no doubt for us it was already there in December,” Dr Yves Cohen, head of intensive care at the Avicenne and Jean Verdier hospitals in the northern suburbs of Paris, told The New York Times on May 4 this year. “It is quite possible that there were isolated cases that led to transmission chains that died down.”

Weighing in on the matter too, Michel Schmitt, who led the Albert Schweitzer Hospital research, said, “The testimonies are really rich; they show that people felt that something strange was going on, but they were not in a capacity to raise the alarm.”

THE CAMBRIDGE AND UCL FINDINGS

Meanwhile, two independent research projects by two of Britain’s premier institutions of learning have turned up evidence that Covid-19 was in Europe as early as the third quarter of 2019.  Following a study to understand the historical processes that led to the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Cambridge found that the coronavirus outbreak appears to have started between September 13 and December 7 in 2019.

The University College London’s Genetics Institute (UCL) analysed genomes from the Covid-19 virus in over 7,500 people and deduced that the pandemic must have started between October 6 and December 11 in 2019.
The UCL team analysed virus genomes, using published sequences from over 7,500 people with Covid-19 across the globe. Their report, titled HYPERLINK “https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567134820301829” \l “s0045” \t “_blank” Emergence of Genomic Diversity and Recurrent Mutations in SARS-CoV-2, was published in the May 6, 2020 edition of the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution.

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