Nearly 700 get Ebola vaccine in Congo; more cases possible

In this photo taken Friday, May 25, 2018, UNICEF staffer Jean Claude Nzengu, center, talks with members of an Ebola vaccination team as they prepare to administer the vaccine in an Ebola-affected community in the north-western city of Mbandaka, in Congo. (AP)
Updated 01 June 2018

Nearly 700 get Ebola vaccine in Congo; more cases possible

  • More than 680 people have received Ebola vaccinations in three health zones in Congo where cases of the deadly virus have been confirmed.
  • There have been 37 confirmed Ebola cases, including 12 deaths in Congo.

DAKAR, Senegal: Congo’s health ministry says more than 680 people have received Ebola vaccinations in three health zones where cases of the deadly virus have been confirmed.
Health experts are pushing to find contacts of those infected. The World Health Organization this week estimated there could be up to 300 cases in the coming months.
The health ministry late Thursday said nearly 500 people have been vaccinated in Mbandaka, the provincial capital of northwest Equateur province, since May 21. It said more than 110 have been vaccinated in Bikoro, where the outbreak began, and 70 in Iboko.
The ministry says there have been 37 confirmed Ebola cases, including 12 deaths. There are another 13 probable cases.


White House official went to Syria seeking Americans’ release

A deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official flew to Damascus to negotiate the hostages' release. (File/Reuters)
Updated 4 min 55 sec ago

White House official went to Syria seeking Americans’ release

  • It has been more than a decade since a high-level White House official had met with Assad's government
  • Syria erupted into civil war nearly a decade ago after Assad in 2011 began a brutal crackdown on protesters calling for an end to his family’s rule

WASHINGTON, DC: A White House official traveled to Damascus earlier this year for secret meetings with the Syrian government seeking the release of at least two US citizens thought to be held there, a Trump administration official said on Sunday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, named the official as Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official, saying he had flown to Damascus.
“It is emblematic of how President Trump has made it a major priority to bring Americans home who have been detained overseas,” said the official, who was confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The newspaper, citing Trump administration officials and others familiar with the negotiations, described Patel’s trip as the first time such a high-level US official had met in Syria with the isolated government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in more than a decade.
Syria erupted into civil war nearly a decade ago after Assad in 2011 began a brutal crackdown on protesters calling for an end to his family’s rule.
The newspaper said US officials hoped a deal with Assad could free Austin Tice, a freelance journalist and former Marine officer who disappeared while reporting in Syria in 2012, and Majd Kamalmaz, a Syrian-American therapist who disappeared after being stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in 2017.
At least four other Americans are believed to be held by the Syrian government, the newspaper reported, but little is known about those cases.
The Journal reported that Trump wrote Assad a private letter in March, proposing a “direct dialogue” about Tice.
It said that Lebanon’s top security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, met last week at the White House with national security adviser Robert O’Brien to discuss the Americans held in Syria, according to people involved in the talks.
Talks with Syria have not gotten very far, according to people briefed on them, the newspaper reported, saying Damascus has repeatedly demanded Washington withdraw all its forces from the country.