Pastor confirmed with Ebola as disease spreads in DR Congo

A worker from the World Health Organization (WHO) decontaminates the doorway of a house on a plot where two cases of Ebola were found, in the village of Mabalako, in eastern Congo Monday, June 17, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 July 2019

Pastor confirmed with Ebola as disease spreads in DR Congo

  • Ebola causes diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhagic fever and can be spread through bodily fluids

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, the biggest city to have been affected by the disease since its outbreak in eastern DR Congo last August, the health ministry said on Sunday.
The patient is a pastor who had been preaching in church and would have touched the hands of worshippers “including the sick,” the ministry said in a statement.
His symptoms first appeared last Tuesday in Butembo, one of the main towns touched by Ebola where he had been preaching.
He left by bus on Friday to Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, arriving early Sunday where “the results of the laboratory test confirmed that he was positive for Ebola,” the ministry said.
“Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low,” the ministry said.
The other 18 passengers and the driver will begin getting vaccinations on Monday, it added.
Health workers in Goma were vaccinated as early as December when the outbreak first hit Butembo some 300km (185 miles) further north.
The two towns are separated by poor roads under the threat of armed groups.
The latest Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people and 694 have been cured, according to a health ministry bulletin on Saturday.
And 160,239 people have been vaccinated, it added.
The World Health Organization had initially voiced hope it would be able to contain the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever, thanks in part to the new vaccine.
But efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered both by militia attacks on treatment centers, in which some staff have been killed, and by the hostility of some local people to the medical teams.
Insecurity in the restive region, including a long-standing presence of various rebel groups in Ituri and North Kivu, has also made it difficult for health workers to access those who might have come into contact with Ebola.
The disease spreads among humans through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person, or objects contaminated by such fluids.
The current outbreak is the tenth in DRC in 40 years, putting all of East Africa on alert.
It is already the second deadliest on record globally, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016 and killed more than 11,300 people.
 


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 49 min 31 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.