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Ebola control operations have been restored in Democratic Republic of Congo’s conflict-ridden North Kivu province, following pre-election protests late last year, the World Health Organization reports.
Anti-government demonstrations preceding presidential elections on December 26 disrupted key Ebola response activities in some affected areas of the province, notably in Beni and Butembo.
Crowds of people, angry at the government’s decision to bar the region from voting in the election, vandalized an Ebola transit center and other health facilities. The damage prevented health workers from going to communities at risk and providing services needed to control the spread of the deadly disease.
But WHO says full operations have been restored in all locations as of Jan. 1. While the situation is now calm, WHO spokesman Tarek Jasarevic tells VOA that any interruption could lead to increased transmission of the virus.
“There is a risk that all this work that is being put in place, and WHO has more than 380 people on the ground, alongside hundreds of people deployed by the Ministry of Health and other partners, that this effort may be put in danger if we are not able to go and put response activities in the community,” Jasarevic said.
The number of reported Ebola cases stands at 608, including 369 deaths. WHO says no new cases have been reported among health care workers in 2019, leaving the number affected at 54, including 18 deaths.
Jasarevic says it is yet to be seen whether the temporary disruption of Ebola activities prior to the elections will result in an upsurge in cases. (VOA)
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Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
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