Today's Health News in Snippets

30/11/2021

WHO warns of very high global risk from Omicron.jpg

WHO warns of very high global risk from Omicron

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant poses a high risk of infection surges around the globe.

 

The variant could lead to severe consequences in some regions, the WHO said on Monday.

 

The head of the organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, renewed a call for a global push to get vaccines to poorer nations.

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Hospitalisations soar by 330% in South African area where Omicron first detected.jpg

Hospitalisations soar by 330% in South African area where Omicron first detected

Hospitalisations have risen by 330% in the past two weeks in the South African province where the Omicron Covid variant was first detected.

 

Gauteng has had 580 hospitalisations caused by Covid which is a 330% rise from the 120 people that needed hospital treatment two weeks earlier.

 

At the same time the province, that includes Johannesburg, has one of the worst vaccine rollouts in South Africa with just under 40 percent of the 12 million residents having had at least one jab.

 

Scientists are currently investigating amid fears that the Omicron variant could be the most infectious and could evade vaccination protection due to the extent that it has mutated.

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China pledges a billion Covid vaccine doses to Africa.jpg

China pledges a billion Covid vaccine doses to Africa

China's President Xi Jinping has promised to send to Africa some one billion Covid vaccine doses to help close the "vaccination gap".

 

The president made the pledge during the China-Africa summit.

 

Out of the one billion, 600 million doses will come from China directly while 400 million will come from other sources like funded production sites.

 

The recent pledge comes amid the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant that was first detected in southern Africa.

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All UK adults to be offered Covid booster jab.jpg

All UK adults to be offered Covid booster jab

Covid booster jabs are to be offered to all over-18s in the UK to help stop a potential wave of infections driven by the new variant Omicron.

 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation made a series of recommendations to expand the booster rollout.

 

It said the minimum gap between the second vaccine dose and booster should be reduced from six to three months.

 

The experts also said children aged 12-15 should be invited for a second jab.

 

Early evidence suggests Omicron has a higher re-infection risk, but scientists say it will take about three weeks before it is known how the variant impacts on the effectiveness of vaccines.

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Scientists 'astounded' as first living robots reproduce in way not seen in plants or anima

Scientists 'astounded' as first living robots reproduce in way not seen in plants or animals

The US scientists who created the first living robots say the life forms, known as xenobots, can now reproduce - and in a way not seen in plants and animals.

 

Formed from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) from which it takes its name, xenobots are less than a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide. The tiny blobs were first unveiled in 2020 after experiments showed that they could move, work together in groups and self-heal.
 

Now the scientists that developed them at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have discovered an entirely new form of biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.

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Expectant mothers with sexually transmitted infections are more likely to give birth prema

Expectant mothers with sexually transmitted infections are more likely to give birth prematurely, study finds

New information on how having a sexually transmitted infection before or during pregnancy can affect newborns is emerging.

 

Having chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis - sometimes called "silent" infections due to a dearth of apparent symptoms in the early stages - has been associated with a higher risk of giving birth too early, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open.
 

Preterm birth - when a baby is born before 37 weeks' gestation - is the leading cause of newborn complications and death worldwide, the study authors wrote.

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Rwanda to start giving Covid booster jabs.jpg

Rwanda to start giving Covid booster jabs

Rwanda’s health ministry has announced that it will start giving third doses to the elderly and those who have underlying conditions starting on Tuesday.

 

The ministry says the implementation will be done in phases and will begin in the capital, Kigali.

 

Rwanda’s minister of state in charge of primary healthcare says third doses will be given to those who are over the age of 50.

 

Those between 30 and 50 will only get the extra shot if they have an underlying condition.

 

Health workers are also eligible for the third dose.

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Eswatini to begin giving Covid vaccine boosters.jpg

Eswatini to begin giving Covid vaccine boosters

Eswatini has started giving Covid vaccine boosters as the country heightens alert after a new variant was discovered.

 

Health authorities have said those aged 18 and over, who have been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna, within the last six months are eligible.

 

Eswatini is among several southern African countries facing travel restrictions to the UAE, UK and USA.

 

The country is also set to destroy some 100,000 Pfizer vaccines that expire on 2 December due to low uptake.

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Mum begs people not to kiss babies after daughter ​falls seriously ill with herpes.jpg

Mum begs people not to kiss babies after daughter ​falls seriously ill with herpes

A mum has urged people not to kiss babies after her youngster caught a strain of herpes.

 

The concerned parent has had to watch as her bundle of joy breaks out in nasty gum sores.

 

The woman, who shared her story with paramedic Instagram page Tiny Hearts, said she did not know how her baby contacted the virus.

 

The discomfort became so much for the young tot that she's had to be taken to A&E twice.

 

It is hoped that the condition will run its course in a fortnight.

 

The HSV-1, cold sore or herpes virus can all easily be passed onto babies and toddlers through contact such as a kiss.

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Israel to impose travel ban for foreigners over new Covid-19 variant.jpeg

Israel to impose travel ban for foreigners over new Covid-19 variant

Israel is to ban foreigners from entering the country for 14 days and use surveillance to halt the spread of the new Covid variant, local media report.

 

The ban is expected to come into effect at midnight on Sunday, following full cabinet approval.

 

Israel has so far confirmed one case of the potentially more infectious Omicron variant first detected in South Africa.

 

Many countries have since banned travel to South Africa and its neighbours.

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Dozens die from cholera in Niger.jpg

Dozens die from cholera in Niger

The UN has said that 156 people have so far died from cholera in Niger, three months after the World Health Organization reported an outbreak.

 

The eastern region of Maradi is most affected with more than 5,400 people infected countrywide.

 

The region borders Nigeria where 31,425 suspected cholera cases were reported in 22 states.

 

The rainy season during the month of August, which resulted in poor drinking habits of rainwater infected with all kinds of unsanitary conditions drained by erosion.

 

This was one of the main vectors for the spread of the epidemic to other parts of the country, especially in the tri-border area between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

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Monday's Health News in Snippets

29/11/2021

Rwanda suspends flights to southern Africa states.jpg

Rwanda suspends flights to southern Africa states

The government in Rwanda has announced new measures that include the suspension of flights to and from southern African countries.

 

All arriving passengers must have a negative test and do a repeat test on arrival and seven days after arriving into the country.

 

A seven-day quarantine has also been reintroduced for travellers coming from countries recently affected by the new waves.

 

All those attending gatherings like weddings and funerals must be fully vaccinated.

For more, click here.

Face masks required in shops and public transport from Tuesday amid new variant fears.jpg

Face masks required in shops and public transport from Tuesday in UK amid new variant fears

Face masks will become mandatory again in shops and on public transport from Tuesday in England, the Health Secretary has said.

 

Sajid Javid said he hope the tougher rules on face coverings in England would be "temporary" as ministers reimpose some measures amid fears the new strain could evade existing vaccines.

 

It was a legal requirement to wear a face covering in shops and public transport, as well as some other indoor settings, until July 19.

 

People who flouted the rules faced fines of up to £6,400 for repeated offences. It is likely a similar level of fine would accompany the new rules.

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At least 44 countries have imposed temporary restrictions on travel from the southern Afri

At least 44 countries have imposed temporary restrictions on travel from the southern Africa region over the Omicron variant

Japan and Israel have banned all foreign nationals from entering their countries following the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19, while at least 44 countries have imposed travel restrictions from several African countries.

 

A growing number of countries have reported confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, including Canada.

For more, click here.

South African health minister slams travel bans.jpg

South African health minister slams travel bans

South Africa's health minister has condemned the travel restrictions being imposed against the country after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant.

 

Speaking to reporters on Friday evening, Joe Phaahla says the introduction of travel restrictions by a number of countries against southern African nations are "completely against the norms and standards" set out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

 

He adds that foreign scientists have not presented any evidence that the new variant has the capacity to evade protection offered by vaccines, though he accepts that early signs suggest it is more transmissible.

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Governments around the world are mobilizing to respond to the new Covid-19 variant.jpg

Governments around the world are mobilizing to respond to the new Covid-19 variant

The world is in a "race against time" with the Omicron coronavirus variant, said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, warning during a visit to Latvia that scientists and manufacturers will need weeks to fully understand the new variant.

 

As more cases are identified and governments around the world mobilize to respond to Omicron, an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers will be convened on Monday, the United Kingdom said. It also announced on Sunday new domestic public health rules requiring face coverings in shops and on public transport starting this week.
 

Omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa, who raised alarm over its unusually high number of mutations on Thursday. Since then, at least dozen other have confirmed cases of the new strain, with several other reporting suspected cases.

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At least 22 killed in attack on DR Congo camp.jpg

At least 22 killed in attack on DR Congo camp

At least 22 people have been killed in an attack in a camp for displaced people in Ituri province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

The attack has been blamed on the armed group Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (Codeco) who are said to have opened fire on the camp.

 

Twenty people were buried immediately in two common graves, while another two were buried later, the AFP news agency quoted a Red Cross official as saying.

 

An attack on the same camp last week killed 29 people.

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