Zambia’s Cholera Outbreak Spreads Fear

As Zambia struggles to contain a cholera outbreak that has killed 50 people since September 2017, cases of cholera in Malawi and Tanzania are causing concern in Southern Africa.

Zambia has taken a number of steps to try to contain the outbreak.

President Edgar Lungu deployed the military last week to support the Ministry of Health, a curfew has been implemented in hard-hit areas, and the start of the school year has been delayed.

Churches have cancelled services as large gatherings have been prohibited, vendors have been removed from the streets and fast-food restaurants found to be infected with cholera have been closed.

However, infections have continued to rise.

According to a local Zambian newspaper, over 120 new infections were recorded in 24 hours.

As the outbreak has spread, killing eight in Tanzania and four in Malawi, Zambia has announced that it will stop issuing passports.

Medical workers in Malawi and Tanzania have been urged to intensify education and awareness campaigns in communities to curb the spread of the disease.

South Africa: Listeriosis Death Toll 61

The listeriosis death toll in South Africa has risen to 61 since the outbreak was announced in early December 2017.

Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating contaminated food, and can be deadly if not treated in time.

Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, said on Monday that genome sequencing – a type of dna testing – is being carried out on the bacteria, in an attempt to identify the source of the outbreak.

Gauteng still has the most cases of listeriosis, with 442 out of the 727 confirmed cases, while the Western Cape is second, with 92 confirmed cases.

The South African Department of Health has added listeriosis to its list of notifiable diseases.

The Department does not have statistics regarding past infection and mortality rates because listeriosis was not previously on the list.

In December, an abattoir in Tshwane was prohibited from selling meat after samples tested positive for listeria bacteria, the Gauteng Health Department said.

Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa, said the abattoir was tested after a food sample from a listeriosis patient was traced to have come from there.

It remains unclear whether this is the only source of the current outbreak.

South Africans are being urged to practice excellent food hygiene and to seek medical treatment if they develop any flu-like symptoms, such as fevers and body aches, as well as nausea and diarrhea.

Zambia: Cholera Found in Restaurants

Three branches of a fast-food restaurant franchise have been forced to close after testing positive for the bacterium that causes cholera.

The Hungry Lion restaurants, owned by South African retailer Shoprite, were shut yesterday morning in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.

According to local government minister, Vincent Mwale, health inspectors found contaminated food at all three branches.

The area’s recent cholera outbreak was initially attributed to contaminated water from shallow wells.

It has since been traced to hygiene conditions in the three outlets, and the manner in which employees from infected areas were handling and preparing food.

“We have since had meetings with the management to see how hygiene conditions can be improved,” said Mwale.

Zambian President, Edgar Lungu, deployed the military last week to help fight the spread of the waterborne disease.

Cholera has claimed 51 lives, and infected 2000 people in Zambia in the last few months.

Crocodile Mauls Tourists in Zimbabwe

One tourist has died and another has been seriously injured after being mauled by crocodiles.

The incident occured in Matopos National Park, Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe, on Sunday, when the tourists – John Bowman and Rosemary Mitchell – went boating on Mpopoma Dam.

The couple was attacked while paddling with air-pumped boats in the crocodile infested waters.

According to Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman, Tinashe Farawo, the two were immediately rushed to the hospital.

Bowman was pronounced dead on arrival, while Mitchell is in an intensive care unit in a Bulawayo hospital.

Farawo said: “We encourage our tourists to stay away from wild animals. No matter how domesticated they are, they can be dangerous.”

He also added that using air-pumped boats is prohibited on the Mpopoma Dam.

The couple was on holiday with colleagues, and Matopos National Park is a popular tourist destination.

Weah Wins Liberia Election

Former football star, George Weah, has been elected the new president of Liberia.

The 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year won Liberia’s presidential run-off, with a projected 61.5% of the vote, the country’s election commission said on Thursday.

The former AC Milan striker beat current Vice President, Joseph Boakai, who took 38.5% of the vote.

Weah won when Liberians went to the polls in October, but did not secure the required 50% of the vote for an outright victory, leading to a presidential run-off.

Weah, who has played for Chelsea and Manchester City, is the first and only African player to have won both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or.

Weah first ran for Liberia’s presidency in 2005. He formed the Congress for Democratic Change, but was defeated by current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In 2011, Weah came second as a vice presidential candidate.

The 51-year-old will succeed Sirleaf – Africa’s first democratically elected female leader – to become president next month, in the country’s first democratic transition since 1944.

Mnangagwa To Hunt Mugabe’s Allies

Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has engaged the services of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to track down allies of former president, Robert Mugabe.

According to reports, Mnangagwa is targeting Mugabe’s allies who skipped the country when the military toppled the veteran ruler last month.

It’s believed that former ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Paddy Zhanda are the new president’s the prime targets, because of alleged corruption-related crimes.

The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) has already arrested four close Mugabe allies, namely, Joseph Made, Walter Chidakwa, Ignatius Chombo and Jason Machaya.

Former Zanu PF youth leaders Kudzanai Chipanga and Innocent Hamandishe have also been arrested on criminal charges, related to the army takeover.

President Mnangagwa said last week, during his visit to South Africa, that he had forgiven all but three of the vanquished Zanu-PF’s Generation 40 (G40) faction.

G40 was allegedly led by former first lady Grace Mugabe, and was instrumental in forcing Mnangagwa out when he was vice president.

Mnangagwa said: “I have forgiven the cabal and they are in the country except for only three who remain outside, and still saying funny things, but all that will soon come to an end.”

Zimbabwe: Mugabe’s Airline To Be Blocked

Plans to launch a new airline in Zimbabwe have faced a major setback from the new government.

It was announced in October this year that then-President Robert Mugabe was planning to launch a new private airline, named “Zimbabwe Airways”.

The airline was set to take over from Zimbabwe’s current, struggling, national airline, Air Zimbabwe.

Air Zimbabwe’s current CEO, and son-in-law to Mugabe, Simba Chikore, was tipped to become head of the new airline.

The announcement that the ruling family would own and run a private airline was met with public outrage.

According to reports, the administration of new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is likely to prevent the new airline from being established.

A confidential aviation source said: “The deal is now being scrutinised and once that is completed, the president will be advised to block it.”

President Mnangagwa will focus, instead, on revitalising Air Zimbabwe, which is floundering with a hugely-reduced fleet of planes and a debt of more than 300 million US dollars.

Surgeon on Trial for Bizarre Practice

A British surgeon has admitted to signing his initials into two livers during transplant operations.

In a case which has no legal precedent in UK criminal law, 53-year-old doctor Simon Bramhall has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault.

Bramhall used an argon beam coagulator, which seals blood vessels using an electric beam, to brand his initials into the organs.

The marks were discovered when another surgeon conducting a follow-up surgery discovered the letters “S” and “B” etched into the man’s liver.

The investigation that followed this discovery revealed that Bramhall also carved his initials into another patient.

Bramhall resigned from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in 2014, after facing a disciplinary hearing.

Prosecutor Tony Badenoch said the branding was “an intentional application of unlawful force to a patient whilst anaesthetised”.

Public reactions to the case have been mixed.

A former patient of Bramhall’s asked: “Even if he did put his initials on a transplanted liver, is it really that bad?”

Meanwhile, a patients’ rights advocate said, “[t]his is a patient we are talking about, not an autograph book”.

Bramhall has been released on bail, and will be sentenced on 12 January 2018.

Hiroshima Survivor Wins Nobel Prize

Japanese activist, Setsuko Thurlow, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

The 85-year-old was 13 when she survived the world’s first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August, 1945.

Thurlow was in her classroom, 1.8 kilometres from the centre of the blast, when it struck at 8:15 that morning.

Thurlow recalls the horror she survived: “As I crawled out, the ruins were on fire. Most of my classmates in that building were burned to death alive. I saw all around me utter, unimaginable devastation…Grotesquely wounded people, they were bleeding, burnt, blackened and swollen. Parts of their bodies were missing.”

Eight of her family members, and 351 of her schoolmates and teachers died in the bombing, which destroyed the entire city.

Estimations of the total death toll vary widely between 90 000 and 146 000 innocent people.

The lingering radiation caused illness and birth defects for decades in those exposed to the blast.

Thurlow shares the award with her colleague, ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn.

After accepting the award, Fihn warned that the world faces a modern “nuclear crisis” made worse by “bruised egos”.

Referring to the rivalry between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, she added: “[T]he deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away”.

ICAN, formed in 2007, is a non-governmental organisation that draws attention to the humanitarian risks of nuclear weapons.

Image: Setsuko Thurlow and Beatrice Fihn accept the Nobel Peace Prize [online image] (2017) sourced on 11 December 2017 at http://www.bostonherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/gallery/public/media/ap/2017/12/10/4628828015a54c24b5b32947b747a6d9.jpg?itok=0MhQpuLS

South Africa: Head Prosecutor Removed

The High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, has ruled that the head of the National Prosecuting Authority must vacate his seat.

Judge Dunstan Mlambo announced their verdict: “The appointment of Shaun Abrahams as the National Director of Public Prosecutions is reviewed, declared invalid and set aside.”

Judge Mlambo explained that the termination of Abrahams’ predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana, was invalid.

Nxasana agreed to leave the post in 2015 after a R17 million payout, which followed a threat he had made to investigate NPA leaders who were supposedly close to President Jacob Zuma.

Because the High Court found that Nxasana’s departure was unlawful, the post was technically not vacant when Abrahams filled it.

The court did not re-appoint Nxasana to the position, saying that it would not be “just”.

Judge Mlambo also ruled that President Jacob Zuma appointing a new NPA head would be a “conflict of interest” due to the 800 corruption charges pending against him.

Instead, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been tasked with appointing a new NPA head within the next 60 days.

The appeal against Nxasana’s settlement was originally brought by Freedom Under Law‚ Corruption Watch and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.