Hurricane Jose now ‘extremely dangerous’ at Category 4

This satellite image obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Hurricane Irma (L) and Jose (R) at 2015UTC on September 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / NOAA/RAMMB)
Updated 08 September 2017

Hurricane Jose now ‘extremely dangerous’ at Category 4

MIAMI, US: Hurricane Jose strengthened to a powerful Category Four storm Friday as it followed in the path of Hurricane Irma, US weather forecasters said.
The “extremely dangerous” storm was located in the Atlantic Ocean 415 miles (670 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was packing sustained winds of 150 miles (240 kilometers) per hour as it moved west-northwest at 18 miles (30 kilometers) per hour, the NHC said at 1500 GMT.
“On the forecast track, the center of Jose will pass near or east of the northeastern Leeward Islands on Saturday,” the NHC said.
Ocean swells “likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions” are expected to affect portions of the Leeward Islands later Friday, the NHC said.
Hurricane conditions are also possible on Caribbean islands including Antigua, Barbuda, and Anguilla on Saturday.
Jose follows Irma, a powerful Category Five hurricane tearing across the Caribbean toward to Florida.
Further west, Hurricane Katia was also upgraded Friday to a Category Two storm as it churned toward the eastern coast of Mexico.
Mexico’s National Water Commission meteorological authority said Katia picked up strength as it swirled in the Gulf of Mexico 127 miles (205 kilometers) from the major port city of Veracruz.


Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

Updated 15 August 2020

Pakistan launches anti-polio drive as COVID-19 cases decline

  • Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio is still endemic
  • Since Jan., Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials on Saturday launched a seven-day vaccination campaign against polio as part of efforts aimed at eliminating the crippling disease amid a steady decline in fatalities and infections from the coronavirus, which had recently overwhelmed the country’s fragile health system.
The anti-polio campaign, which began amid tight security, aims to vaccinate as many as 34 million children across Pakistan, including former Taliban strongholds bordering Afghanistan, a government statement said.
Medical workers participating in the drive against polio were seen adhering to social distancing regulations as they wore face masks and gloves while going house-to-house to avoid a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I am hopeful that parents will continue to realize the importance of vaccinating their children during this campaign,” said Faisal Sultan, an adviser to the prime minister on health issues.
According to Rana Safdar, who heads the government’s polio program, similar campaigns against polio will be launched in October, November and December.
Earlier Saturday, Pakistan’s military said Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, praised Islamabad’s success in the fight against coronavirus in a telephone call to the country’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. It said Gates also discussed the resumption of the drive against polio.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three countries in the world where polio — a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the polio virus — is still endemic. The nonprofit Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped Pakistan and other places worldwide fight the disease.
Pakistan had hoped to eliminate the disease by 2018, when only 12 cases were reported. But there was a surge in new cases the following year. Since January, Pakistan has reported about 100 new polio cases from various parts of the country, including the northwestern region bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistani Taliban and other militants regularly stage attacks on polio teams and security forces escorting them because they claim the anti-polio drive is part of an alleged Western conspiracy to sterilize children or collect intelligence. Attacks on polio teams increased after it was revealed that a fake hepatitis vaccination campaign was used as a ruse by the CIA in the hunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in 2011 in Pakistan.
Pakistan halted the drive against polio in March and resumed it last month amid a decline in infections and fatalities from COVID-19.
On Saturday, Pakistan reported only 9 new deaths from the new virus in the past 24 hours, increasing the country’s total of COVID-19 deaths to 6,162. So far, Pakistan has reported 288,047 cases and officials say about 93% of the patients recovered since February, when the country reported its first confirmed case.