Gabon polio-free, WHO certifies

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Updated 16 December 2017
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Gabon polio-free, WHO certifies

LIBREVILLE: The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Gabon a “polio-free country,” given the lack of new reported or suspected cases in the central African country.
According to a WHO statement obtained by AFP on Saturday, the UN health agency nonetheless recommended taking the necessary steps to continue monitoring for possible signs of the disease.
Gabon’s Health Minister Denise Mekam’ne Edzidzie also urged families on Saturday to “continue to immunize children and prevent a resurgence of this disease.”
Polio is a highly-infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children and can result in permanent paralysis. There is no cure and it can only be prevented through immunization.
Cases of polio have decreased by 99 percent since 1988, when polio was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases were recorded worldwide.
Now the disease is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the WHO recorded four cases this year — two in each country. Last year, there were 37 cases globally.


Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

Updated 26 min 6 sec ago
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Japan halts missile drills after Trump-Kim summit

TOKYO: Japan has halted evacuation drills simulating a North Korean missile attack in the wake of historic talks between Washington and Pyongyang, local media reported Thursday.
Government officials did not immediately confirm the reports, but authorities in one town said they were suspending a drill planned for next week on orders from Tokyo.
The decision comes after US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un met last week in Singapore, with the pair signing a joint document calling for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Yaita in Tochigi prefecture north of Tokyo had been planning an evacuation drill for next week involving some 800 residents including 350 school children, city official Yutaka Yanagida said.
But the city suddenly canceled all preparations late Wednesday after being instructed by the government that “drills should be postponed for the time being following a change in the environment after the US-North Korea summit,” he said.
Contacted by AFP, a Cabinet Office official said the government would announce its policy on evacuation drills on Friday, declining to comment further.
Last year, Pyongyang fired two missiles over Japan and it has splashed others into the sea near the country, sparking a mix of panic and outrage.
Earlier this year, hundreds of Tokyo residents scrambled for cover in the Japanese capital’s first evacuation drill for a military attack by Pyongyang.
North Korea has singled out Japan, a key US ally in the region, for verbal attacks, threatening to “sink” the country into the sea and to turn it into “ashes.”
But the regional mood has turned toward diplomacy since the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea, which set off a series of diplomatic moves culminating in the Trump-Kim meet.