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South Africa on high alert after five confirmed cases of monkeypox

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South Africa on high alert after five confirmed cases of monkeypox

Johannesburg, June 12 (IANS) South Africa is on high alert following the outbreak of monkeypox in May, with five laboratory-confirmed cases including one death, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Wednesday.

Phaahla told the media that all five patients diagnosed with monkeypox, also known as Mpox, three from KwaZulu-Natal Province and two from Gauteng Province, were men between the ages of 30 and 39 with no history of travel. Two remain hospitalized, two have been discharged, and one died on Monday in a hospital in Johannesburg, reported Xinhua News Agency.

“All five cases were classified as severe cases as per the World Health Organization (WHO) definition requiring hospitalization. Since the beginning of 2024, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has received 12 Mpox test requests, with three testing positive. The other two cases were diagnosed by private laboratories,” said the minister. “Guidelines have been updated and shared widely across networks of healthcare workers using various platforms.”

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According to him, the outbreak response team, consisting of experts from various government sectors, the WHO, and other stakeholders, has embarked on contact tracing and case finding in the affected provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

“We can disrupt the local transmission by supporting those diagnosed with this disease in taking their treatment to prevent infecting others. We can prevent avoidable deaths by cooperating with health officials when they conduct contact tracing and case finding,” Phaahla said, adding that they have held webinars about Mpox disease with more than 500 healthcare workers.

Fabian Ndenzako, a doctor with the WHO in South Africa, said they are working with the South African government to provide medicine for those infected with Mpox. A total of 10 doses of vaccine have been packaged in Geneva, Switzerland, and are awaiting paperwork to be processed and then shipped to South Africa.

The WHO defines an outbreak of monkeypox when two cases are confirmed. Ndenzako noted that since all five cases have no travel history, the country could be sitting on a high number of Mpox cases.

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Monkeypox is an infectious disease caused by the monkeypox virus. Most people fully recover, but some get very sick. The virus can be transmitted to humans through physical contact with someone infectious, with contaminated materials, or with infected animals. Symptoms of monkeypox include an unexplained acute rash and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, acute onset of fever, headache, muscle and body aches, and low energy.

According to the WHO, from January 1, 2022, to May 31, 2024, a total of 97,208 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox were reported, including 186 deaths from 117 countries. South Africa recorded five cases of monkeypox in 2022, with no cases reported in 2023.

–IANS

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Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

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Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

Indonesia's nature reserve welcomes new baby orangutan

Jakarta, July 22 (IANS) Indonesia has welcomed a new baby Sumatran orangutan, born at Orangutan Reintroduction Center in Jantho Nature Reserve in the Aceh province.

“The yet-to-be-named female baby was born to Mama Wenda and is in good health,” head of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, Ujang Wisnu Barata, said on Monday.

The baby orangutan is believed to be about two weeks old, Xinhua news agency reported.

Jantho Nature Reserve, home to a variety of wildlife, has seen its seventh orangutan birth since the reintroduction program began in 2011. ■

–IANS

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

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Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Vietnam's seaport capacity to reach 1.4 billion tonnes by 2030

Hanoi, July 22 (IANS) Vietnam’s cargo output through seaports is expected to reach 1.2-1.4 billion tons by 2030, according to the country’s detailed planning of seaports, harbours and water areas towards 2050 submitted by the Ministry of Transport.

It is forecast that the number of domestic and international passengers passing through the seaports by 2030 will be 17 to 19 million, Vietnam News Agency reported Monday.

The investment capital need for the seaport system by 2030 will be about 351.5 billion Vietnamese dong (13.8 million US dollars), including 72.8 billion dong (2.8 million dollars) for public maritime infrastructure and 278.7 billion dong (11 million dollars) for ports, Xinhua news agency reported.

The country’s cargo output through seaports in the first five months of this year was estimated at over 346 million tonnes, increasing by 17 per cent year on year, said Vietnam Maritime Administration.

–IANS

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

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Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Heavy security in Uganda ahead of planned protest in Kampala

Kampala, July 22 (IANS) Ugandan security agencies have had heavy deployment ahead of an anti-corruption protest in the capital city of Kampala, a police spokesperson said here Monday.

Luke Owoyesigire, deputy spokesperson of Kampala Metropolitan Police, told Xinhua by telephone that various security agencies had already deployed their personnel as a precautionary move.

“They (security officers) are already around. They will be around today, tomorrow, and throughout the week,” Owoyesigire said.

The spokesperson said different groups had engaged in continuous mobilization on social media calling upon people to join in the Tuesday march, which the police decided to stop, saying it would attract criminal activities.

“People have other intentions of destabilizing public peace,” Owoyesigire said, before confirming that a message had been sent out to various sector commanders to deploy in their areas, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the police, mass occupation of streets would likely result in “significant traffic congestion, disruption of trade, and disturbances to public order.”

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The commanders were ordered to “utilise intelligence, be firm and professional.” They were also ordered to be vigilant, not to allow destruction of property or abuse to human lives.

The President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, in a live televised address Saturday to the nation, accused the opposition of working with foreign elements to cause chaos in the country through riots, illegal demonstrations and inconsiderate processions.

“These people are unfair and inconsiderate, and they should check themselves, or we will have no alternative but to check them,” Museveni said.

–IANS

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Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

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Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

Indonesia stresses commitment to local community involvement in developing SEZ

Jakarta, July 22 (IANS) Indonesia’s state-owned company Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) on Monday emphasised its commitment to encouraging local community participation in developing the Mandalika special economic zone (SEZ) in Central Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara province.

“Our main focus currently is to provide training and certification for local workers to enhance international competitiveness. Through this training, we believe the capabilities of the local community will improve, ultimately enabling them to enhance their welfare independently,” said ITDC President Director Ari Respati.

According to ITDC, its initiatives include a variety of training and community empowerment programs, such as foreign language training, mechanics training, developing an integrated farming system in buffer villages, mushroom cultivation, handicrafts, and marshals training, among others.

“It is hoped that in the development and management of the Mandalika special economic zone, we can prepare the community to welcome various international events, thereby improving the overall welfare of the surrounding community,” Respati added, Xinhua news agency reported.

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The Pertamina Mandalika International Circuit race will be held in the Mandalika area from September 27 to 29.

–IANS

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Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

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Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

Sri Lanka's minority Tamils decide to field candidate for Presidential election

Colombo, July 22 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Tamil political parties have decided to field a common candidate to represent minority Tamils at the upcoming Presidential election slated to be held in September.

It will be after more than four decades that a Tamil could feature as a candidate in Presidential polls.

Late Kumar Ponnambalam, a leader of All Ceylon Tamil Congress, was the last Tamil Presidential candidate who contested in the 1982 Presidential race. He was assassinated in Colombo in 2020.

The group of Tamil political parties, including Tamil People’s Alliance led by former Northern chief Minister C. V. Vigneswaran, Selvam Adaikkalanathan’s Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), D. Siddharthan’s People’s Liberation Organisation Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Srikantha’s Tamil National Party and Suresh Premachandran’s Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), together with the leaders of a civil society groups including Tamil People’s Congress Association (TPCA) have now come to a consensus to nominate a common candidate to represent the minority Tamils in the island nation.

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However, Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) – the main Tamil political party in the country with the largest number of MPs under the umbrella group of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) – has not joined the pact signed on Monday.

The date for the decisive presidential poll is to be announced in the coming week while unconfirmed reports indicate that the election might take place on September 21 with nominations to be accepted by mid-August.

Incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe, together with his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country amidst public protest, is completing his five-year term with the Election Commission now empowered to announce the nominations date for the next election.

The main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), who broke away from Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), and Marxist party Jathika Jana Balawegaya (National People’s Power) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake have announced candidacy.

Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are yet to announce whether they will be contesting the elections together or separately.

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–IANS

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