Mt Mer­api erupts Ur­gent bid for Ebola vac­cine in DR Congo

Saturday Star - - NEWS -

JAKARTA: In­done­sian au­thor­i­ties or­dered peo­ple liv­ing near a vol­cano to leave their homes yes­ter­day and a ma­jor city closed its air­port af­ter the 5 500m peak sent steam and ash into the sky.

The Mount Mer­api vol­cano on densely pop­u­lated Java is­land is one of the most active in In­done­sia. Erup­tions in 2010 killed more than 350 peo­ple.

A dis­as­ter mit­i­ga­tion agency told res­i­dents liv­ing within a 5km ra­dius of the moun­tain to move to shel­ters.

The air­port in Yogyakarta, the near­est big city to the vol­cano, shut be­cause of the ash, avi­a­tion agency Airnav said.

The alert sta­tus on Mer­api had not been raised. – Reuters/ African News Agency (ANA) GENEVA: The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion said it hoped to send an ex­per­i­men­tal Ebola vac­cine to try out on an out­break in a re­mote area of Congo to pre­vent it spread­ing, par­tic­u­larly to the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal of 1 mil­lion peo­ple.

Congo re­ported the out­break on Tues­day, with 32 sus­pected, prob­a­ble or con­firmed cases of the dis­ease since April 4, in­clud­ing 18 deaths.

A new sus­pected case was re­ported on Fri­day.

The WHO is mov­ing quickly, hav­ing been crit­i­cised for bungling its re­sponse to a 2014-2016 out­break that killed more than 11 300 peo­ple in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“We are very con­cerned and plan­ning for all sce­nar­ios,” said Pe­ter Salama, the WHO’S deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral of emer­gency pre­pared­ness and re­sponse.

The out­break area is 15 hours by mo­tor­bike from the clos­est town and has “dire” in­fra­struc­ture, Salama said, so the WHO wants to send in 20-40 ex­perts by he­li­copter this week­end and then clear an airstrip for more sup­plies.

“This is go­ing to be tough and it’s go­ing to be costly to stamp out this out­break,” he said. The im­me­di­ate risk was to the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, Mban­daka, with about 1 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants, but Congo’s nine neigh­bours have also been put on high alert in case the dis­ease crossed a bor­der, es­pe­cially by river to the Repub­lic of Congo or Cen­tral African Repub­lic.

Nor­mally a re­mote set­ting would re­duce the chance of the dis­ease spread­ing. But al­ready there are three sep­a­rate lo­ca­tions cov­er­ing 60km or more, and some of the vic­tims were health-care work­ers, po­ten­tially “an am­pli­fi­ca­tion fac­tor” for out­breaks, Salama said.

The lo­cal cul­ture, with tra­di­tional heal­ers and com­mu­nal buri­als where there was close con­tact with the de­ceased, could cause “su­per-spread­ing” of Ebola, which kills up to 90% of suf­fer­ers, he said.

Salama said he hoped to get ap­proval within days to use a vac­cine de­vel­oped by Merck in 2016. Al­though highly ef­fec­tive, it is still ex­per­i­men­tal, has not been li­censed, and must be kept at -60°C to -80°C.

It re­quired in­ten­sive con­tact trac­ing, which Salama said could take a week or two.

Salama said the WHO hoped to have a mo­bile lab­o­ra­tory op­er­a­tional at the week­end, and both the WHO and the med­i­cal char­ity Medecins Sans Fron­tieres al­ready had a team on the ground – Reuters/african News Agency (ANA) ANKARA: A mem­ber of Iran’s cler­i­cal elite said yes­ter­day Euro­peans could not be trusted, af­ter Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said Tehran would re­main in a 2015 nu­clear deal with world pow­ers even af­ter the US pulled out.

US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared on Tues­day that Wash­ing­ton was leav­ing the deal un­der which Iran curbed its nu­clear pro­gramme, say­ing it was one-sided and he would reim­pose sanc­tions on Iran lifted as part of the ac­cord.

“Amer­ica can­not do a damn thing. They have al­ways been af­ter the top­pling of Iran’s regime and this exit is in line with that aim,” Ay­a­tol­lah Ah­mad Khatami said in a tele­vised ad­dress to wor­ship­pers at Tehran Univer­sity.

State TV aired footage of demonstrators shout­ing slo­gans against the US and Is­rael at ral­lies in Tehran and other cities and towns na­tion­wide af­ter Fri­day prayers.

They chanted, “Mr Trump, you can­not do a damn thing” and “We fight. We die. We don’t sur­ren­der” in streets festooned with anti-us and anti-is­raeli ban­ners and posters.

Both hard­line con­ser­va­tives and rel­a­tive mod­er­ates in the Is­lamic Repub­lic’s lead­er­ship con­demned Trump’s hawk­ish ap­proach to Iran, with frus­tra­tion grow­ing among or­di­nary Ira­ni­ans at the prospect of eco­nomic hard­ships as the re­sult of new sanc­tions.

“Th­ese Euro­pean sig­na­to­ries (to the deal) also can­not be trusted… Iran’s en­e­mies can­not be trusted,” Khatami said, as hard­line pro­test­ers urged the gov­ern­ment not to “re­peat the same mis­take” by re-en­ter­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Ger­many, France and Bri­tain have reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to the deal but, in a bid to bring Wash­ing­ton back into it, want talks to be held with Rouhani’s gov­ern­ment in a broader for­mat cov­er­ing Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme and its role in Mid­dle Eastern con­flicts, in­clud­ing in Syria and Ye­men.

Rouhani and his min­is­ters have sought to re­as­sure Ira­ni­ans that their oil-re­liant econ­omy can with­stand a re­turn to pres­sures sure to fol­low Trump’s re­jec­tion of the deal clinched un­der his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, af­ter years of ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Iran’s econ­omy has con­tin­ued to strug­gle de­spite eas­ing of sanc­tions from early 2016.

In De­cem­ber, Ira­ni­ans staged na­tion­wide demon­stra­tions over poor liv­ing stan­dards, call­ing on Rouhani and Shia cler­i­cal lead­ers to step down.

A Krem­lin aide dis­closed that Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin will meet Yukiya Amano, head of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, in the Rus­sian Black Sea city of Sochi on Mon­day to dis­cuss the US with­drawal from the Iran nu­clear deal.

Yuri Ushakov, the aide, added that Moscow was work­ing closely with Tehran to pre­vent it from leav­ing the deal, seen as vi­tal for global sta­bil­ity.

The prag­ma­tist Rouhani cham­pi­oned the nu­clear deal as the way to end Iran’s in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion, so if it falls apart he could face a ca­reer-threat­en­ing back­lash.

It could leave Iran’s hard­lin­ers, in­clud­ing the elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, un­chal­lenged at home and en­able greater Ira­nian as­sertive­ness abroad that in­flames ten­sions in the Mid­dle East.

Hard­lin­ers are plac­ing their faith in Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, who has the fi­nal say on ma­jor mat­ters of state. – Reuters/african News Agency (ANA)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.