A Requiem For Stephanie

 

A Requiem For Stephanie

Late Stephanie Anams

By Basil Chiji Okafor

The text was terse and sharp, as the point of a needle and jolted me to the very depths of my being:

“So sorry, she’s gone.

I’m her brother, Christopher.”

The message came in on Tuesday, the 10th of November, 2020, at exactly 7.35 pm. Although I’m not in the habit of usually checking my Facebook Messenger inbox, as I do the WhatsApp, I suddenly felt compelled to look in there because I actually hadn’t done so, nearly all day. I quickly logged in and there was Stephanie’s chat-box, right on top of the row, a message having just arrived in it.

Her older brother had picked up her phone and decided to contact her friends that were prominent in her chat-box, to intimate them of her death. According to him, she had passed away last week, Wednesday the 4th, exactly eight days ago. But as you can see from the screen shot of my chat box, she was active on the 6th of November, a good 48 plus hours, after she was supposed to have passed on! Absolutely intriguing! Could it be some kind of a software malfunction? You can also, actually read my message to her that evening:

“Hello Steph, how’re you doing? I am happy to see you here. So eager to know how you are doing, yet so confused and embarrassed to reach out when one can’t make any meaningful input to alleviate your situation.”

She was online after I typed that message for about a little longer than it would normally take to read such short text (or so, it seemed, as the three little dots that indicate typing at the other end, kept bobbing up and down). I tarried awhile, expecting a reply but suddenly, she went off line. Then, she surfaced twice again for two brief, separate moments, before finally going off line, for the last time.

I took it that she probably wasn’t too happy with me for being out of touch with her for several days, at a go, knowing her condition. Of course, I would have loved to stay in touch by the hour, but of what value would that have been when I could not provide the means to support her regular dialysis, let alone the several millions required for a kidney transplant? So, I hovered between and betwixt disturbing a very sick person and adding to her problems with just a mere, “hello”, or “sorry” and just letting her be.

I first met Stephanie Anams on Facebook, through an article I wrote back in 1990 and first published in the Guardian (Nigeria). I republished that article on my wall, on May, 27th, 2017. Titled, In Search Of The Jimi Hendrix Legacy, it told the story of my search for the family of guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix, in the United States.

Stephanie reached out to me after reading the article. She had shared it on her wall, she said and also told me she had actually been following my work for quite a while. Thus, began a very deep friendship, based on mutually shared interests and values, in a wide variety of subjects, particularly the literary and visual arts, history, music, extraterrestrial intelligence and the paranormal, to mention a few of them. Above all, we were both ardent fans of Jimi Hendrix.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to me, as she later told me that she was an English graduate. But beyond being an English graduate, was her eclectic taste. Her thirst for knowledge and voracious reading appetite was quite rare in these parts, especially for a young woman of her generation. I was simply fascinated by the depth of her intellect, the breadth of her knowledge and the wisdom and power behind the analytical mind of such a young woman, only just 42, at the time of her death.

When I told her I was starting a Website on history and asked if she could write for us, she most enthusiastically took up the challenge and made a substantial input into the project when she introduced her column on ancient history, which we aptly named, Stephanie Chronicles. She pursued this task with great zeal and up to the time of her illness and death, never asked for a kobo, for all her contributions. She was confident that the publication would grow and so worked hard to help grow it.

To date, my box is still littered with several of her yet to be published articles. She was that prolific and that also highlights one aspect of her that stood her out from most people – her extreme kind heart, dedication to duty and eagerness to be on the side of human progress and to drive things, whichever way she possibly could.

The lady had class and great integrity and carried herself with dignity. And if she had any failings, it was in these great strengths that what one might term her flaws, also lay. Stephanie could hide things, even from a friend, especially when she felt that sharing certain troubles with you, meant being a burden to a friend.

We never met, physically, so during those long, late night hours of brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other, we talked about how great a day it would be, when we would finally meet, face-to-face. It was during one of those nights, only last October, that she told me she would be coming to Lagos in just a matter of days. I was naturally excited. I asked about where she would stay and she gave me an address in Victoria Island.

Of course, she arrived promptly and notified me, accordingly. But when I asked for when we could meet, she drew a blank. Well, you never quite know with women, I thought, so I kept my cool…and maintained my distance. Four days later, she got in touch from Benin. I was perplexed and didn’t know what to make of it all, so I continued to maintain my cool. You can then imagine my shock when, a few weeks later, she sent me documents and photographs of herself in a hospital bed, undergoing dialysis! She had been dealing with renal failure and this was what brought her to a Lagos hospital and subsequently, took her to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. I was devastated.

Among the documents she sent, was one of friends, organising a Go-Fund-Me fund raiser for her. She needed several millions to be able to continue to fund her twice-weekly dialysis and ultimately, a kidney transplant. She had drained her accounts and sold virtually all she had, to sustain her treatment but the condition only deteriorated. In my frenzy, I did what I had never done before in my life.

I have had a personal policy of keeping my distance from old friends and acquaintances, once they got rich, or got appointed to top government positions. But to help save Stephanie, I called an old friend I hadn’t been in touch with for a while and whom I know could shell out thrice the total required amount of money, without batting an eye lid. I also called him because Stephanie said she knew him and I thought that mentioning her plight would move him.

I shall never forget that phone call till I take my last breath. Why did I even try, I asked myself? I ended up sending this gentleman an apology on his WordsApp, for barging into his space and disturbing his peace. I hope he has forgiven me. I later called up Stephanie to tell her my experience with that call and how scared I was to try another person. Poor girl! Courageous and kind, as she always was, it was even she, in that state of severe pain that offered me words of comfort.

And so, we most painfully watched Steph, die a slow and agonising death, as the life-force slowly ebbed out of her, finally flickering off like the classic candle in the wind.

On the 28th of October, 2020, she sent me what was to be her last set of messages:

“(sic) Went to the ladies this morning. Fell. Notice right side of leg loosing motor functions same with hands.”

“(sic) Early set of stroke seems to be setting in.”

“(sic) Brother now carries me literally can’t walk at all.”

“(sic) Unfortunately was to see the MD n consultant n of course do my dialysis today. No funds so on Gods good graces as it is now.”

Stephanie’s body is being interred in her grave, about now, as I write. My heart goes out to her innocent eight year-old son, Aden, who is yet to feel the import of what has happened – I was exactly his age when my own father passed away, many years ago. My heartfelt condolences also go to her heartbroken mother and the rest of the family, the offspring of late football coach, Michael Malagwu, of Kwale, Delta State.

To Christopher, her brother, I say, thank you. There is no treasure in this world, greater than a good brother, or sister and friend. Thank you for being there, for a good woman. Thank you for having the presence of mind to notify me and for feeling free to share further information about my good friend and her family that I didn’t have. I look forward to meeting you in person, for the first time, when the grief and this whole nightmare can be managed. God bless you.

Today is a very sad day for me, bringing up to a final anti-climax, a season of deaths and burials. First, it was an old friend of nearly four decades, Dr. Yima Sen, who was also an old friend of Stephanie’s. In fact, it was a heartbroken Steph that broke the news of Yima’s death to me, from her sick bed. This is also the week of the burial of one of the greatest reggae singers that ever lived – Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, frontman of the legendary group, Toots and the Maytals, whose great fan I have been for several decades. In fact, it was Toots that gave reggae music its name, with his hit song, Do The Reggay, a version of which the great Bob Marley, also performed.

Indeed, in the words of the great English poet, Thomas Gray:

“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,

The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me…”

Late Stephanie

 

Showmax Launches New Service, Brings Live Sports And Movies To Your Mobile Phone

The Shomax Pro streaming service: viewing a live programme via a handheld device.

Showmax, your video streaming platform, turns five, in a little over a month from now, with new innovations, to boot, including bringing live sports to your handheld devices.

From July 7, 2020 the upfront video streaming platform, rolls out a new subscription plan, the Shomax Pro, across the entire sub-Saharan Africa. But the service would come in stages beginning with Nigeria and Kenya.

In addition to the already existing Showmax entertainment service of music channels, news and live sport streaming from Supersport, the Showmax Pro would feature all English Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, as well as all PSL games, with a wide range of live sport events, including IAAF Athletics, professional boxing and the world’s biggest marathon races.

The sport beta test has been running on Showmax since June last year and this debut comes as an end result of this year-long effort.

The Cape Town, South Africa-based Showmax is an African video on demand service with years of experience, operating on the African continent. It originally launched in August,2015.

Niclas Ekdahl, CEO, Connected Video division, MultiChoice.

Recounting the video streaming platform’s history and what sets it apart, Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice, said:

“Showmax is an African video on demand service with many years’ experience operating on this continent. We’re local-first, which means listening to our customers and delivering African stories told in familiar voices as well as the best that Hollywood has to offer.”

He went on, “Our local-first strategy is an advantage because it allows us to tailor our content, apps, packages and partnerships, specifically to what’s most important in Africa.”

In June 2019, Showmax began testing sport live-streaming, and the new Showmax Pro service is based on the results of this.

Ekdahl spoke about sport streaming: “The live sport test we ran on Showmax in conjunction with SuperSport has been well received, so that’s forming an integral part of our new Showmax Pro service.”

Another key development for African markets has been adapting the service for the data connectivity constraints on the continent and focusing on the most-used viewing devices.

Watching football and sport stream with mobile phone.

In November last year, Showmax launched a mobile-only service for smartphones and tablets, featuring all of the Showmax content but at half the cost of the standard Showmax service and consuming less data. This service has also proven popular, so in addition to the standard version of Showmax Pro there will also be a mobile-only version at half the price.

Said Ekdahl, of the role of a mobile-only option, “What else have we learned about operating an internet video service in Africa? Mobile usage is mainstream, so having a one-size-fits-all big screen service may not be the best solution here. With the mobile-only version of Showmax Pro, anyone with a smartphone in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to get the best African content, the best of Hollywood, and all of the best sporting action. This is something no other service is doing and we think it’s a game changer.”

The new bundle rolled out yesterday with Nigeria and Kenya, while additional countries would join the list in the weeks to follow. The entire process is expected to be completed within six to eight weeks, with a coverage spanning the entire sub-Saharan Africa.

The following table gives details of the new Showmax Pro service in Nigeria and Kenya.

Showmax Showmax Pro
Showmax Showmax Mobile Showmax Pro Showmax Pro Mobile
Kenya KSh 760 KSh 380 KSh 2100 KSh 1050
Nigeria NGN 2900 NGN 1450 NGN 6300 NGN 3200

 

 

 

JUST IN: Former External Affairs Minister, Gambari, May Be Buhari’s Next Chief Of Staff

Prof. Ibrahim Gambari

A former Minister of External Affairs, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, may be the next Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Although the Presidency has yet to formally confirm this, there are strong indications that the announcement will be made at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Professor Gambari served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985.

He held several leadership positions at the national and international levels, and has built extensive contacts with governments, as well as public and private institutions, especially in Africa.

The 75-year-old diplomat was also the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid (1990-1994).

He later served as Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs between 2005 and 2007.

If appointed on Wednesday, Professor Gambari will succeed the former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, who died of coronavirus (COVID-19) complications.

According to the Presidency, Kyari who was President Buhari’s chief of staff since 2015 died on April 17 at the age of 67.

He was said to have been infected with COVID-19 almost two weeks after he returned from a trip to Germany during which he met with officials of Siemens on Nigeria’s electricity expansion programme.

On March 29, the late Chief of Staff confirmed in a statement that he had tested positive for the disease, putting an end to the controversy surrounding his health status.

He was laid to rest on April 18, a day after the Presidency announced his death.

Courtesy: ChannelsTV

 

Music Legend Millicent ‘My Boy Lollipop’ Small Dies

Millicent ‘My Boy Lollipop’ Small

This year, 2020, has claimed yet another music legend, in the person of Jamaica’s legendary ska ambassador, singer, Millicent Small. Millie died on May 5, 2020, aged 72, after suffering a stroke.

The star was most famous for her hit single My Boy Lollipop, which reached number two in both the US and the UK in 1964.

It remains one of the biggest-selling ska songs of all time, with more than seven million sales.
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell announced her death and remembered her as “a sweet person… really special”.
“She was such a sweet person, really a sweet person. Very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special,” said Blackwell.
It was Blackwell who brought Small to London in 1963 and produced her version of My Boy Lollipop, showcasing her childlike, high-pitched vocals.
“I would say she’s the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record,” he told the Jamaica Observer .
Ska was one of the genres of music that the island of Jamaica gave to the world and was a major influence on the island’s now globally embraced reggae music and the Rastafarian-Nyabinghi culture. Indeed, Reggae icon, Robert Nesta Marley, popularly known as Bob Marley, started out his music career with sounds that bore distinct influences of ska.
At the age of 12, Millicent Small won a talent contest at the Palladium Theatre in Montego Bay; and by her teens, she was recording for Sir Coxone Dodd’s Studio One label in Kingston.
There, she teamed up with reggae singer Roy Panton and they became one of the island’s most prolific duos, scoring a major hit with We’ll Meet.
Blackwell took an interest in the singer after releasing some of those records in the UK on his fledgling record label, Island, and brought her to London in 1963.
Released in February 1964, My Boy Lollipop, made Millie an international star and helped popularise ska music around the world.

Ms. Millicent Small

In 2011, Jamaica’s Governor-General made Small a Commander in the Order of Distinction for her contribution to the Jamaican music industry.
The singer is survived by her daughter, Jaelee, who is also a musician based in London.
Adapted from the BBC.
 

BREAKING: Abba Kyari, Buhari’s Chief Of Staff Dies Of Covid-19

Late Abba Kyari.

The Presidency on Saturday morning announced the passage of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.

Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in a statement in Abuja.

“The deceased had tested positive to the ravaging Covid-19 and had been receiving treatment. But he died on Friday, April 17, 2020.

“May God accept his soul.

“Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.” the statement said. (NAN).

(Courtesy, The News Express); photo courtesy, thenigerianews.com.ng.

 

HEARTRENDING!

At this critical and dangerous juncture in world history, whilst most of us are hunkered down in the comfort of our homes, to protect ourselves and family from a menacing, invisible enemy, this husband and wife, both medical doctors, are out in the frontline, in the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Here, decked out in their protective gear, the couple can only say parting words of affection to each other in the best way they can manage, through the protective walls between them, before going into battle with an enemy that has already claimed 149,884 lives, worldwide, as at the time of writing this.

The Covid-19 virus is a vicious and insidious adversary and no one knows this fact better than these two. As in all wars, neither of them is cocksure that they would return to each again, safe and sound, at the end of it all. But their instincts to save lives, drive them to the very brink of death, itself.

We therefore urge one and all to spare a thought and a prayer for this heroic couple, as well as for all the very brave healthcare workers, flung and scattered all across the globe, who are actually humanity’s first line of defense in this tough war.

Photo: Courtesy: thequint.com

 

Rivers Government Warns Against Harvesting Dead Fish On Bonny Coast

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. (Courtesy.today.ng)

The Rivers State Government has cautioned fishing communities against eating or selling dead fishes found floating along Bonny and Andoni shores in the state.

Mr. Igbiks Tamuno, the state’s Commissioner for Environment said this in Port Harcourt during an emergency meeting with King Dick Isotu, the traditional ruler of a fishing settlement located in Andoni Local Government Area in Port Harcourt on Thursday. He said that the fishes may constitute danger if consumed since the cause of their death was yet to be ascertained. The commissioner promised that the Ministry would carry out full scale investigation to unravel the actual cause of death of the fishes.

“People should avoid the temptation of consuming/selling these fishes in the interest of human health,” he said. Isotu had during the meeting, pleaded with government to quickly unravel the cause of death of the fishes to save the fishing ecosystem. “As a critical stakeholder, I’m in the ministry to intimate the Commissioner about our fears. “The massive death of fishes along the rivers of Finima in Bonny and Oyorokoto in Andoni LGA calls for urgent concern,” he said.

Thousands of dead fishes off the coast of Finima/Bonny.

Thousands of dead fishes, mostly of the ‘Croaker’ species, had been washing up the coastline, along the Bonny, Finima axis and other coastal towns of the Gulf of Guinea and the cause of their death is yet to be ascertained.

(Story, courtesy dailytimes.ng)

 

 

The 10 Worst Pandemics In Human History

1918 Flu Posters (Courtesy, pinterest.com).

Throughout recorded history, dating back to Biblical times, the world has known several pandemics, but 10 of them stand out as the worst of them all.

There are divergent views as to what a pandemic is, in the first instance, but all views converge at the point that the word describes the widespread occurrence of disease “in excess of what might normally be expected in a geographical region”.

All through history, outbreaks of diseases across international borders, have been appropriately described as pandemics. These include the bubonic plague, small pox and influenza, with smallpox having so far killed between 300 – 500 million people in its 12,000 year history.

Coronavirus (Courtesy, nature.com)

COVID19 The Current Scourge (2019 – ?)

The world is presently grappling with a strain of the Corona Virus Disease, named the Covid-19, (a short form of ‘Coronavirus Disease of 2019’). This new disease, a novelty, so to speak, was first seen in the Wuhan region of China, in December 2019, where it first began appearing in human beings.

Due to its newness, this virus spreads with an incredible speed between people, due to the fact that, as of today, nobody in the world has any immunity against it because, prior to 2019, no one had Covid-19. Within months, what was hitherto seen as an epidemic in China, soon spread, worldwide. In March, 2020, the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. By the end of the same month, half a million infections had been recorded, with 30,000 deaths. The figures are spiraling by the day. As of the time of filing this report today, April 8, 2020, 1,062,030 people had caught the disease, worldwide. Out of this figure, 83,644 deaths, (representing 5.75%) have occurred, while 309,825 cases (21.29%) have recovered.

In a bid to curb its spread, the outbreak of Covid-19 has led to the biggest lockdown in all of human history and the outcome and future effects of this massive confinement of humans, on the global economy and culture, among other things, are yet to be determined. Offices, banks, schools, airports and most businesses (except for essential services like healthcare and food delivery) remain shut. Airports, all over, are closed to traffic and buses and trains are scarcely running.

However, while surviving this present scourge is humanity’s immediate priority, there are a great deal of lessons to be learnt from past pandemics.

HIV Virus (Courtesy aidsinfo.nih.gov)

HIV/AIDS Pandemic (At its Peak, 2005 – 2012)

Caused by the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV), the AIDS pandemic, being a sexually transmitted disease, has been one of history’s most troubling outbreaks, its main victims being majorly the young, dynamic and the normally healthy — the drivers of the global economy and productive human activity. The virus was first identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Since 1981, it has killed more than 36 million people, worldwide. Between 31 and 35 million people live with HIV, a vast majority of those victims being in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 5% of the population, roughly 21 million people, are infected. However, due to awareness and new treatments, HIV has become more manageable and between 2005 and 2012, the annual global deaths resulting from the virus have dropped from 2.2 million to 1.6 million.

Flu Pandemic (1968)

First reported in Hong Kong on July 13, 1968, this category 2 Flu pandemic of the H3N2 strain of Influenza A virus, is a genetic offshoot of the H2N2 subtype, sometimes called the “the Hong Kong Flu”. Within 17 days, it spread from Hong Kong to Singapore and Vietnam. By the third month, it had spread to The Philippines, India, Australia, Europe and the United States. It claimed more than a million lives, worldwide, but decimated the population of Hong Kong by approximately 15% of its population at the time, having killed 500,000 of its residents.

Asian Flu (1956 – 1958)

Again caused by influenza, the Asian Flu pandemic was of the Influenza A H2N2 subtype that originated from the Chinese province of Guizhou. Within its two-year period of havoc, it had swept through Singapore to Hong Kong and the United States. The World Health Organisation (WHO) places its final death toll at 2 million, with 69,800 of the dead in the United States alone.

The Spanish Flu pandemic (Courtesy, greenvillesun.com).

Flu Pandemic (1918 – 1920)

The Flu Pandemic which broke out between 1918 and 1920, (exactly a century ago) was caused by influenza. It swept through the globe like a wild hurricane, knocking down a whopping 500 million people in its wake (over a third of the world’s population) and extinguishing the lives of between 20 – 50 million individuals. The mortality rate of this pandemic was estimated to be between 10% to 20%, with up to 25 million deaths in the first 25 weeks alone. The vicious 1918 pandemic was unique. While the previous flu outbreaks claimed only the vulnerable — juveniles, the elderly, the already weak and sick — this very pandemic went for the strong, healthy, young adults and the hardy, leaving the hitherto vulnerable populations.

Sixth Cholera Pandemic (1910 – 1911)

This Sixth Cholera Pandemic originated in India, where it killed over 800,000 people before spreading to the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia. It was the source of the last cholera outbreak in America (1910 – 1911) before that country’s health authorities finally wiped out the disease in their country, losing only 11 people before containing the disease.

Flu Pandemic (1889 -1890)

The ‘Asiatic Flu’ or ‘Russian Flu’, as it was originally called, this plague was caused by influenza. It was thought to be of the Influenza A virus subtype H2N2, but recent discoveries have found the cause to be the Influenza A virus subtype H3N8. It was a global affliction and the first epidemic in the era of bacteriology and quite a lot was learned from it. Within the year of its outbreak, it claimed over a million people.

The Third Cholera Pandemic (1852 – 1860)

Originating from India and spreading from the Ganges River Delta, it rifled its way through Asia, Europe, North America and Africa, dragging to their graves, over a million people. The Third Cholera Pandemic is considered the most deadly of the seven cholera outbreaks of the 19th century. In Great Britain alone, the disease claimed 23,000 lives in 1854, its worst year.

Learn from history; don’t panic (Courtesy, ancient-origins.net).

The Black Death (1346 – 1353)

This Bubonic plague, as well, ravaged three continents in its wake, sweeping through Europe, Africa, and Asia, with an estimated death toll of between 75 and 200 million people. It is thought that this plague most likely jumped continents by way of the fleas that lived aboard the merchant ships.

Plague of Justinian (541 – 542)

This was caused by the Bubonic Plague and claimed 25 million lives. In its year-long reign of terror, this pandemic wiped out, perhaps, half the population of the entire Europe, afflicting the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean port cities, devastating the city of Constantinople, where, at the height of the outbreak, up to 5,000 people died every day, finally claiming some 40 per cent of the city’s population.

The Antonine Plague (165 AD)

Of unknown causes, this pandemic, also known as the Plague of Galen, affected Asia Minor, Greece, Egypt and Italy. Thought to have been Smallpox or Measles, the unknown disease was brought back to Rome, from Mesopotamia, by returning soldiers. In the end, its death toll rose to 5 million and decimated the Roman army.

LATEST COVID-19 STATISTICS WORLDWIDE, 08/04/2020:

Active – 1,062,030

Deaths – 83,644 (5.75%)

Recoveries – 309,825 (21.29%)

For latest Covid-19 details:  https://www.covidvisualizer.com/

 

 

Seismologists Say The Earth Is Standing Still For Coronavirus, COVID-19

The earth, photographed from the International Space Station (ISS).

The current global trend is the stuff of which a bestselling Science Fiction novel is made. But this is, indeed, science fact.

It is unprecedented in the entire history of the earth, in fact, totally unimaginable that a day would come when the entire planet would stand still and locked down – from Europe, to the Americas; from Africa to Asia; Australia, to Japan, Oceania and beyond. All over the place, commercial and social activities have been ground to a screeching halt, all of a sudden.

Flights are grounded. Fewer trains and buses are running. Rush hour is gone. The world – particularly in cities – is looking drastically different during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

According to seismologists, that drastic reduction in human hustle and bustle is causing the Earth to move substantially less. The planet is ‘standing still’.

Thomas Lecocq, a geologist and seismologist at the Royal Observatory in Belgium, noticed that the country’s capital Brussels is experiencing a 30 to 50 percent reduction in ambient seismic noise since the lockdowns began, as CNN reports.

That means data collected by seismologists is becoming more accurate, capable of detecting even the smallest tremors – despite the fact that many of the scientific instruments in use today are near city centers.

“You’ll get a signal with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events,” Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington DC told Nature.

Researchers in Los Angeles and in West London, UK noticed a similar trend.

But seismologists collecting data from remote stations far away from human civilisation might not see a change at all, according to Nature.

Regardless, a significant drop in seismic noise also shows that we’re at least doing one thing right during the current pandemic: staying in the safety of our own homes as we wait for the virus to run its course.

The coronavirus COVID-19.

In the interim, as the global community tackles the COVID-19 headlong scientists, in a race against time, are working to determine where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has come from.

All the answers are not known yet and this includes whether it came from an animal reservoir. However, a new analysis has definitively put to rest the conspiracies that claim the disease was man-made, cultured in some laboratory.

There are some possibilities of interest regarding the origin of this currently devastating virus, one scenario, suggesting that it may have been circulating harmlessly in humans for quite a while, before becoming the troubling pandemic that has now brought the world to a standstill.

“It is possible that a progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 jumped into humans, acquiring [new genomic features] through adaptation during undetected human-to-human transmission,” a team from the US, UK and Australia writes in their study.

Illustration of humanity’s relentless fight against the COVID-19 virus by Nigerian artist/animator, Adeboye Adegbenro.

Story adapted with files from, ‘Science Alert’. 

Photos: ISS, courtesy, NASA; coronavirus COVID-19, courtesy,nature.com; illustration, courtesy, adeboyeadegbenro.org.