Friday November 16, 2018

South Korea Confirms First Case of MERS Since 2015

Most of the 38 deaths that occurred due to the virus in South Korea were elderly people or patients affected by other illnesses.

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South Korean police on Friday sought an arrest warrant against the younger daughter of the president of Korean Air for allegedly assaulting an advertising agency executive in April.
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South Korean authorities on Sunday confirmed the first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus since the outbreak that affected the country in 2015 leaving 187 infected and 38 dead.

The patient, a 61-year-old man, was diagnosed with the virus on Saturday after returning from a business trip in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with transit in Kuwait, the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said.

The South Korean government has convened an emergency meeting to analyse the situation and take preventive measures.

 

South Korea, MERS
Statistics depicting MERS in South Korea.

 

The patient was admitted to a hospital in Kuwait when he began to show some symptoms of the disease and upon arrival to South Korea was transferred to the Samsung Medical Centre in Seoul.

 

The hospital alerted the authorities that it could be a possible case of MERS as symptoms included high fever and pneumonia and moved the patient to the Seoul National University Hospital where he tested positive for the potentially deadly virus.

Around 20 people who were in close contact with the patient, including passengers and crew members of his flight and immigration officers, have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus.

South Korea, MERS
This is the first case of MERS in South Korea since its outbreak recorded between May and December 2015,

This is the first case of MERS in South Korea since its outbreak recorded between May and December 2015, after this virus was first detected in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and subsequently expanded to other countries.

Also Read: Harare, Zimbabwe Suffers From Cholera Outbreak

 

The mortality rate of MERS in South Korea reached 20 per cent during the outbreak, below the figures between 30 and 40 per cent that were recorded in other areas.

Most of the 38 deaths that occurred due to the virus in South Korea were elderly people or patients affected by other illnesses. (IANS)

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Small Farmers in Asia Miss Out On Climate Change Resilient Seeds

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders

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pollution, seeds
Women farmers use sticks to make holes in the soil for seeds, on a farm near Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia. VOA

Millions of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia are missing out on new, resilient seeds that could improve their yields in the face of climate change, according to an index published Monday.

The 24 top seed companies fail to reach four-fifths of the region’s 170 million smallholder farmers for reasons such as poor infrastructure, high prices and lack of training, the Access to Seeds Index found.

Access to seeds bred to better withstand changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures is vital as farmers battle loss of productivity due to climate change, said Ido Verhagen, head of the Access to Seeds Foundation, which published the index.

Egypt, pollution, seeds
A farmer burns rice straw at his field in Qalyub, causing a “black cloud” of smoke that spreads across the Nile valley, near the agricultural road which leads to the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“We see increasing demands for new varieties, because [farmers] are affected by climate change,” Verhagen told Reuters.

“If we want to feed a growing population, if we want to tackle climate change, if we want to go towards a more sustainable food system, we have to start with seeds,” he said.

Smallholder farmers managing between one to 10 hectares of land provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 pollution, seeds
FILE – Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

But traditional methods of preserving seeds from harvests are not always sufficient to cope with a changing climate.

About 340 million people were hungry in 2017 in South and Southeast Asia, a number that has barely changed since 2015, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

“The question is how to get markets to provide the varieties [of seeds] that farmers want, at prices that they’re able to pay,” said Shawn McGuire, agricultural officer at the FAO.

Some smaller companies are leading the way in helping smallholders access more resilient seeds, Verhagen said, such as Thailand-based East-West Seed which topped the index ahead of global giants Bayer and Syngenta, which ranked second and third.

 pollution, seeds
Indian Farmers causing smog in Pakistan. wikimedia commons

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders, he said, while Indian companies Acsen HyVeg and Namdhari, ranked sixth and seventh respectively, have also reached small-scale farmers with seeds.

Also Read: Climate Change’s Fight Harder Than Thought: Study

The index, funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks companies based on seven areas including strategies to help small farmers and supporting conservation. (VOA)