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Thailand confirms first MERS case amid easing South Korea outbreak

تھائی لینڈ کے حکام نے ملک میں میرس وائرس سے متاثرہ پہلے مریض کی موجودگی کی تصدیق کر دی ہے۔ تھائی لینڈ کی وزارت برائے پبلک ہیلتھ کے مطابق میرس کا شکار ایک 75 سالہ شخص ہے جس کا تعلق مشرق وُسطیٰ سے ہے۔ اس شخص کو طبی نگہداشت کے لیے الگ تھلگ رکھا گیا ہے۔ وزارت کی طرف سے بتایا گیا ہے کہ تین مزید افراد بھی اس وائرس سے متاثر ہونے کے شبے میں طبی نگہداشت میں ہیں۔

Thailand’s Health Ministry has confirmed the country’s first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus. More than 55 people have been quarantined after contact with the infected man. Two laboratories confirmed that a 75-year-old man traveling from Oman has been infected by the deadly virus, Rajata Rajatanavin, Thailand’s public health minister, announced on Thursday. The man arrived in the ... Read More »

South Korean MERS patients in treatment trial

As the death toll from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome rises to 19, doctors are giving two patients an experimental Treatment. The method was first tried on SARS patients more than a decade ago. Two people hospitalized in South Korea with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are being treated with an experimental blood plasma treatment, health officials announced on Tuesday. As the death roll from the latest outbreak rose to 19, doctors said they were trialing a procedure which involves injecting patients with blood plasma from those who have recovered from the disease. Health officials say they've carried out the treatment on two consenting MERS patients in additional to their existing care which includes quarantine and in severe cases, care to support the functioning of vital organs. But doctors acknowledge that they there is insufficient evidence that the new treatment works as the virus continues to baffle experts. Some success The procedure was first tried during the outbreak of a similar illness, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), with some success. It led to a 23 percent death rate from the SARS virus, which killed 774 people in 2002/3. On Tuesday, South Korea reported three more fatalities from the largest outbreak of MERS outside of Saudi Arabia, where the virus was first diagnosed three years ago. The death toll has now reached 19. Out of 154 people infected over the past month, 17 have been cured and released from hospital and health authorities said the number of new cases was falling, leading to hope that the worst was over. Almost half of the confirmed cases have been traced to one of the most prestigious hospitals in Seoul. Another hospital in Pyeongtaek City, has also seen a large number of cases. More than 5,500 people remain in quarantine after possibly being exposed to the virus. The World Health Organization's MERS emergency committee was due to meet in Geneva on Tuesday amid fears MERS could spread to other countries as easily as SARS did a decade ago. MERS death in Europe Separately, Germany has reported its first death from MERS in more than two years. The 65-year-old man was infected during a trip to the United Arab Emirates in February. He had been in hospital since his return and his death has surprised heath officials who thought he had almost recovered. The only other case in Germany happened when a UAE national died in a Munich hospital in March 2013.

As the death toll from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome rises to 19, doctors are giving two patients an experimental Treatment. The method was first tried on SARS patients more than a decade ago. Two people hospitalized in South Korea with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are being treated with an experimental blood plasma treatment, health officials announced on Tuesday. As ... Read More »

German dies of complications from MERS infection

A 65-year old man has died in northern Germany of a lung disease, following an earlier MERS infection, state health officials have said. The German contracted the virus on vacation in the Middle East in February. The patient passed away from subsequent complications related to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 6, despite managing to overcome the virus itself, the health ministry in German state of Lower Saxony announced Tuesday. "We deeply regret the death of this patient, our sympathies go to his relatives, who hoped for recovery and now have to suffer this heavy blow", Lower Saxony Social Minister for Health and Social Issues Cornelia Rundt said. The 65-year old was infected during his February trip to Abu Dhabi, and is so far the first German whose death can be traced back to the deadly infection believed to have originated in the Middle East. After overcoming the coronary virus in mid-May, the patient had been released from the isolation ward, and so his death came as a surprise for the doctors, according to the dpa news agency. Hundreds of lives lost Some 200 people who were in contact with the patient during his illness have been tested for MERS, with all the results coming back negative, officials have said. This conforms to the current scientific theories saying that MERS only rarely transfers between humans. Two people were treated for MERS in Germany in 2012 and 2013, with patients coming from Qatar and United Arab Emirates. One of them died. Historically, most MERS patients have been reported in Saudi Arabia. However, South Korea is currently combating an outbreak of the disease, which killed 19 people since it was first reported in May this year. MERS currently has a 35-percent mortality rate, according to the World Health Organization, and no vaccine has been developed so far. Around 1,200 people have been infected with MERS since it first appeared in 2012, with virus claiming some 450 lives.

A 65-year old man has died in northern Germany of a lung disease, following an earlier MERS infection, state health officials have said. The German contracted the virus on vacation in the Middle East in February. The patient passed away from subsequent complications related to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on June 6, despite managing to overcome the virus itself, ... Read More »

Sierra Leone enforces curfew as Ebola virus resurfaces in north west

Sierra Leone has enforced a curfew in the face of renewed outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus in the north west of the country. The government has extended the state of emergency. Sierra Leone's president has announced a three-week curfew in an effort to curb a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. There were 15 new Ebola cases in Sierra Leone in the week ending June 7, according to the World Health Organization. It is the highest weekly total since late March. President Ernest Bai Koroma announced the curfew for parts of the north west of the country on state television on Friday: "I have instructed the security to institute chiefdom-level curfew and restriction on movement from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in Kambia and Port Loko districts, with immediate effect," Koroma said in a televised address. "The curfew restrictions and the soldier activities will last for a 21-day period. Offenders detained during this 21-day period are to be taken to courts of law thereafter," the president said. "There will be night patrols, so the idea is to stop people from escaping using vehicles. If they run away on foot they can only get so far," OB Sisay, an official involved in "Operation Northern Push" for Port Loko and Kambia said on Friday. Supermarkets and restaurants are to be allowed to operate so long as they adhere to Ebola prevention protocols such as temperature screening of employees and customers. Eleven of the country's 14 districts have recorded 42 days without an Ebola case. That is the benchmark for declaring an epidemic over. Another district has not registered a new case in two weeks. Sierra Leone's parliament this week extended the country's state of public health emergency for three months. The country has previously used lockdowns to keep residents in their homes so that authorities can attempt to identify the sick who were not being treated at Ebola centers. Ebola has claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa since December 2013, including more than 3,900 in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone has enforced a curfew in the face of renewed outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus in the north west of the country. The government has extended the state of emergency. Sierra Leone’s president has announced a three-week curfew in an effort to curb a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. There were 15 new Ebola cases in Sierra ... Read More »

Vincent Lambert can be allowed to die, EU court rules

A tetraplegic patient severely injured in 2008 can be taken off life support, according to Europe's human rights court. The ruling in Strasbourg upheld a top French court's view, but not that of Lambert's parents. The European Human Rights Court backed France's supreme administrative court on Friday by agreeing that taking Vincent Lambert off intravenous food and water would not violate European rights. The Strasbourg panel voted 12 to five that intravenous support could stop. Its ruling could become a benchmark across the continent. Lambert, a psychiatric nurse from Reims in eastern France and now in his late 30s, was left severely brain damaged and immobilized after a 2008 road accident. The high-profile case prompted nationwide debate in France about end-of-life practices and legal divisions between members of Lambert's family. Legal stance splits family Six of Lambert's eight siblings backed his wife, Rachel, who is also a psychiatric nurse, in wanting to "let him go" in line with a passive euthanasia law adopted in France in 2005. Lambert's doctor briefly withdrew life support in April 2013 and again in January 2014 at their request, but these actions were interrupted through injunctions lodged by Lambert's devout Catholic parents, his half-brother and his sister. In June last year, France's Conseil d'Etat administrative court ruled that the doctor's actions to withdraw care were lawful because there was no hope of recovery. Lambert's parents then appealed to the Strasbourg court. The parents argued for continuing medical support, saying that it came under the auspices of the European Convention of Human Rights and its stipulations protecting the right to life, respect for family life and outlawing inhumane treatment. His mother, Viviane (pictured above with Lambert), said her son was merely handicapped and any attempt to stop life-sustaining treatment would amount to "disguised euthanasia." She said he had "never left a note" explaining his wishes and claimed he was showing signs of progress, such as lifting his leg. She called Friday's ruling a "scandal," saying "we will stay at Vincent's side and we will continue to fight." Expression of will In Friday's judgement, the European court endorsed the French court's assessment that Lambert had indicated that he did not want to be kept in a vegetative state. "There is no relief, no joy to express. We'd just like his will be done," Rachel Lambert told journalists on Friday following the Strasbourg ruling. The lawyer for Lambert's parents, Jean Paillot, expressed "great disappointment" with Friday's ruling and called on doctors to reassess Lambert's condition and "make a new medical decision." He stressed that the initial decision had been taken in January 2014. Bernard Jeanblanc, the head doctor at the Strasbourg clinic where Lambert's parents want him moved, said the patient was "not in a vegetative state" but had a degree of consciousness which enabled him to interact with his environment.

A tetraplegic patient severely injured in 2008 can be taken off life support, according to Europe’s human rights court. The ruling in Strasbourg upheld a top French court’s view, but not that of Lambert’s parents. The European Human Rights Court backed France’s supreme administrative court on Friday by agreeing that taking Vincent Lambert off intravenous food and water would not ... Read More »

WHO to send team to South Korea to respond to MERS outbreak

جنوبی کوریا میں میرس وائرس کی نشاندہی کے بعد اسکول بند کر دیے گئے ہیں۔ حکام نے بتایا کہ میرس سے اب تک چار افراد ہلاک ہو چکے ہیں اور اس وائرس کو مزید پھیلنے سے روکنے کے لیے انتہائی اقدامات اٹھائے جا رہے ہیں۔ مزید یہ کہ ملک بھر میں سات سو سے زائد اسکولوں کو بند رکھنے کا اعلان کیا گیا ہے۔ نظام تنفس کو متاثر کرنے والے اس وائرس سے دنیا بھر میں چار سو سے زائذ افراد ہلاک ہو چکے ہیں۔ شمالی کوریا نے بھی پڑوسی ملک میں اس وائرس کے بڑھتے ہوئے واقعات پر تشویش کا اظہار کیا ہے۔

The WHO has said it will send a team to South Korea to assist in local efforts to contain an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. This followed the news that a fourth South Korean has died from the disease. A statement posted on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website on Friday said the team, to be led by its ... Read More »

Sieren’s China: Beijing backs market-based health care reform

China has lifted the country's strict pharmaceutical price controls. This signals tough times for Western pharmaceutical companies and good times for the Chinese, says DW columnist Frank Sieren. The beginning of June marked the end of drug price caps set by the Chinese government. In the future, China, now the world's second-largest pharmaceutical market, will base its pricing policies on supply and demand. China's National Development and Reform Commission has thus implemented the changes Premier Li Keqiang announced at the National People's Congress in March. The aim is to lower the cost of medication for people in China and to decrease government spending in the health sector. In recent years, China has supplied almost half a billion citizens with health insurance coverage and now health care expenditures have reached almost 400 billion euros ($450 billion). In 2020, they are expected to surpass the trillion euro mark. The government wants all 1.4 billion Chinese to be insured by then. As a result, it is in the government's interest for the cost of medication not to continue to rise. Tough competition for multinationals This is bad news for foreign pharmaceutical corporations, like Switzerland's Novartis or the US company Pfizer, which must now sell their medication for less. They have been the leading purveyors of high-quality medication, but under the new scheme, they compete directly with Chinese producers of generic products, which are much cheaper. Beijing hopes that the new pricing system will provide China's pharmaceutical companies with incentive to invest in more in research and development and to produce more innovative drugs than their Western rivals. The pharmaceutical industry is particularly important because sales accounted for an 18.5 percent higher growth rate than that of the Chinese economy itself: in 2014, the pharmaceutical industry brought in $105 billion dollars in revenue. According to estimates made by the US consultancy firm McKinsey, the health care market in China will be worth over a trillion dollars in five years. Right now, thousands of Chinese companies are active on the market. If things go the way Beijing has planned, both public and private companies in China ought to consolidate while closing the gap between them and competitors on the international pharmaceutical market. That's also a way of securing growth. Little faith in Chinese drugs In the past, Chinese companies lacked patents, but most importantly, they lacked the trust of their own citizens, who looked to the West for quality medication and were even willing to pay a surcharge of up to 40 percent for Western products. Drastic price differences tend to be a good breeding ground for corruption, as the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline had to admit last fall. Employees of the corporation ended up behind bars after they had had bribed doctors to boost sales of their products; the corporation itself was slapped with a fine of about $500 million US dollars. Consequently, the new pricing system is a government attempt to clean up corruption among doctors and hospitals. Chinese hospitals earn nearly 40 percent of their budget by prescribing expensive medication. Hospitals themselves sell almost 70 percent of prescription drugs. The days of such monopolist market structures are numbered anyway: China's online shopping giant, Alibaba, is preparing to enter the prescription drug business. That's when prices will really drop. DW columnist Frank Sieren has been living in Beijing for 20 years.

China has lifted the country’s strict pharmaceutical price controls. This signals tough times for Western pharmaceutical companies and good times for the Chinese, says DW columnist Frank Sieren. The beginning of June marked the end of drug price caps set by the Chinese government. In the future, China, now the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical market, will base its pricing policies on ... Read More »

US military base mistakenly ships live anthrax to labs

A military facility in the US state of Utah has accidentally shipped live anthrax samples to several US labs. Health officials say there are no known infections and that public safety is not at risk. A US military facility mistakenly shipped live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine US states as well as an American military base in South Korea, defense officials said Wednesday. The Pentagon said there were no suspected infections or risks to the public, but four US civilians are undergoing preventative measures that include taking a combination of the anthrax vaccine and antibiotics. Jason McDonald of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the four civilians were "doing procedures that sent the agent into the air," but face "minimal" risk. The CDC has begun an investigation into the incident. Airborne anthrax is potentially deadly if inhaled. In 2001, five people died after inhaling anthrax sent through the US mail to government and media targets. The military base from which the anthrax was shipped, Dugway Proving Grounds, regularly transfers "dead" anthrax samples, which are inactivated through radiation. But exact information about how the live Anthrax was inadvertently shipped remained unclear. "All samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to CDC" or affiliated labs "for further testing," said CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harden. The sample sent to South Korea was subsequently destroyed, according to the Pentagon. The anthrax was originally shipped from the Utah facility as part of an effort to develop a field test to identify biological threats. "Out of an abundance of caution, (the Defense Department) has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren. Latest lapse Biosafety experts were shocked at the lack of oversight. "These events shouldn't happen," said Stephen Morse, a former program manager for biodefense at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Last year, US government laboratories came under fire after reports of careless management of deadly bacteria. Investigators discovered anthrax stored in unlocked refrigerators and an unrestricted corridor and that dangerous materials had been transported in resealable plastic bags. US lawmakers have demanded stricter oversight of government labs.

A military facility in the US state of Utah has accidentally shipped live anthrax samples to several US labs. Health officials say there are no known infections and that public safety is not at risk. A US military facility mistakenly shipped live anthrax bacteria to laboratories in nine US states as well as an American military base in South Korea, ... Read More »

From an Ebola survivor to an Ebola fighter

It's one year since the first Ebola case was officially diagnosed in Sierra Leone. Ebola survivor Haja Kargbo has dedicated her time to protecting people from the virus. Haja Fatmata Kargbo (pictured above) quickly washes her hands without even looking at the blue bucket. A quick temperature check and she heads down the stairs towards the small huts with corrugated iron roofs, crammed together, with the blue ocean gleaming in the background. Moa Whorf is known as one of Freetown's worst slums - now it's an Ebola hotspot as well. "People in Moa Wharf are very stubborn. When we tell them not to touch each other, they do not listen to us. When we tell them not to keep their sick relatives inside of their homes, they go ahead and hide their sick relatives from us," Haja says as she navigates her way through the filthy alleys, past floods of people, goats and pigs. Street corners are stacked with garbage and a smell of urine fills the air. "Some communities are now aware of Ebola. I do not think these communities will have cases anymore." But in Moa Wharf, she insists, people are just stubborn. Haja makes her way to the slum several times a week. As a contact tracer for the Red Cross, she visits people who are kept in the closed off quarantine zones. Everybody who has been in contact with a person suffering from Ebola is put under house arrest for 21 days. This way, the government wants to stop anyone who might have contracted Ebola from spreading it. Entering the quarantine zones Despite the heat and the crowds of people pushing by, Haja and her fellow volunteers do not slow down. She comes to a halt in front of the police tape that has been put up to stop people from entering the narrow alley. A grim-faced soldier stands guard - a bottle with disinfectant looking out of his front pocket. "Good morning everyone. Did you have a good night," Haja shouts at the people behind the police. "I was told three people in this house came into contact with a corpse," she explains. "But all of them are doing fine for now." One of Haja's colleagues quickly checks the temperature of the people behind the barrier. Anyone with more than 38.5 degrees Celcius (101.3 degrees Fahrenheit) would be taken to an Ebola treatment center immediately. But nobody is showing any signs of illness. Haja reminds them again. "If you develop any symptoms, you have to go to hospital immediately," she tells the group. Life goes on for those who survive Haja means every word that she says. She does not just know what Ebola is, she knows what it feels like. She contracted the virus from her husband in August 2014. "I did not feel good, I used to cry a lot when they took me to the Ebola treatment center. I did not believe I would survive," Haja remembers. 23 members of her family died from Ebola, including her husband and her 7-month old baby."I feel happy when I am on the job, but sad when I am home," Haja says. "Every time I am alone at home and thinking about the people I lost, mostly my husband and my children, that makes me really sad". At the next house, Hassan Kargbo is already expecting the volunteers. He is standing behind the police line with a black cap and white trousers, his wife and the little daugher watching from a distance. It's the same procedure again - a quick temperature check, a few health questions, a short chat. "Haja is telling us the right thing - we have to get rid of Ebola," Hassan insists. Ramata Jalloh, a Red Cross workers, watches Haja from a distance. Sometimes a proud smile crosses her face. Ramata met Haja when she was discharged from the Ebola treatment center. "I was going to her house every two days. She was always lying down or sitting in the room alone," Ramata remembers. "Her mother told me 'She is not happy. She is not doing anything, she does not even have the money to buy soap'". Ramata asked Haja to join the Red Cross as a volunteer - a request that she happily obliged. "I felt the nurses in the Ebola treatment center had done so much for me. I wanted to give something back." Three homes and three families later, the Red Cross team is done for the day. Haja and her colleagues wash their hands again and have their temperature checked one more timeIt's 2 pm and the fresh ocean breeze does not reach the hot narrow alleys of Moa Wharf. When the Ebola crisis was at its peak, the team would sometimes take entire days to visit all the people under quarantine. Making ends meet Yet for Haja the day is far from over. Her home is just a ten minute drive from Moa Wharf. She stays here with her mother and her five year old son. As soon she get home, she opens up her shaky wooden stall in front of her house. Now that her husband can no longer provide for her she sells mangos to supplement the small amount that she earns at the Red Cross. "I am the eldest child to my mother and since I do not have any husband I have to work," explains Haja. "My mother looks up to me to fend for us. After God, I am the second most important person in the family. I am often under a lot of pressure from my family to provide for everyone." If it was up to her, she would look for a new life, far away from Freetown and her community. "My dream is to go to Europe", Haja says and bursts into laughter. "Sierra Leone has become such a difficult place to live in. There is no money in the country, so I would be very happy if someone would assist me to get to Europe."

It’s one year since the first Ebola case was officially diagnosed in Sierra Leone. Ebola survivor Haja Kargbo has dedicated her time to protecting people from the virus. Haja Fatmata Kargbo (pictured above) quickly washes her hands without even looking at the blue bucket. A quick temperature check and she heads down the stairs towards the small huts with corrugated ... Read More »

Liberia free of Ebola, says World Health Organization

The WHO has declared Liberia free of Ebola after no new cases were reported for 42 days. However, officials have said they will be cautious about celebrating as the virus is not yet gone from the region. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has released a report on Saturday calling Liberia free of the Ebola disease, after twice the virus' incubation period passed without any new cases. The last Ebola patient in Liberia died on March 27, the organization said in a statement. WHO recorded more than 4,700 Ebola deaths in Liberia, and over 10,500 infections. While the number of infections was lower than in neighboring Sierra Leone, Liberia lost more patients to the disease; it was hard-hit by the outbreak due to a lack of health services. Officials and survivors said they are cautious about openly celebrating the end of Ebola in Liberia, as the virus is yet not out of the region. "We're proud of what we collectively managed to do but we need to remain vigilant," said Peter Jan Graaff, head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response. Elsewhere in West Africa, however, new cases were reported this week in Sierra Leone and in Guinea, the other two countries hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak. According to WHO's latest situation report, each country recorded nine cases for the week ending May 3. #link:18313100:Some 11,020 people have died since the Ebola outbreak began in December 2013, while more than 26,000 have been infected.

The WHO has declared Liberia free of Ebola after no new cases were reported for 42 days. However, officials have said they will be cautious about celebrating as the virus is not yet gone from the region. The World Heath Organization (WHO) has released a report on Saturday calling Liberia free of the Ebola disease, after twice the virus’ incubation ... Read More »

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