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Medical workers lead a young girl with suspected Ebola into the unconfirmed Ebola patients ward run by The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA). VOA

A World Health Organization Emergency Committee warns the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remains a global health threat despite significant progress in containing the spread of this deadly virus. WHO reports a total of 3,431 cases of Ebola, including 2,253 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

The Emergency Committee declared the outbreak in DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, last July. In reviewing the current situation, members of the Committee decided it was premature to declare the global threat over.


WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says he accepts the Committee’s advice.

“As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic,” he said.


Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

WHO has revised its risk assessment from very high to high at national and regional levels, and low at the global level. Last week, it reports only three new cases of the disease in North Kivu’s Beni Health Zone. Tedros calls these signs extremely positive.

“But even as we near the end of this outbreak, we must act now to prevent the next one…Only half of health facilities have access to water. Strengthening a health system may not be as sexy as responding to an outbreak, but it is equally important,” he said.

Tedros is traveling to DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Thursday. The WHO chief says he will meet President Felix Tshisekedi and other senior ministers to explore ways to strengthen DRC’s health system.

Chair of the Emergency Committee, Robert Steffen explains why the group decided to maintain the PHEIC despite cautious optimism that the Ebola epidemic was winding down.

Also Read- US Health Officials Prepare to Battle Flu Season as Coronavirus Fear Rises

“We do see a risk of some resurgence and also a risk of complacency if we would now suddenly abandon this PHEIC despite of the fact that we still occasionally still see new cases,” he said.

Another problem, Steffen says, is lack of money. He says WHO needs $83 million to carry out its Ebola operation until June. So far, less than half of the required amount has been received. (VOA)


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Indian astronomers have found an active galaxy in a very bright state with 10 times more X-ray emission than normal

Indian astronomers have found an active galaxy in a very bright state with 10 times more X-ray emission than normal, equivalent to more than 10 trillion of the sun, and located five billion light years away that could help probe how particles behave under intense gravity and acceleration to the speed of light.

It could help study the role of strong gravity and acceleration of matter in the formation, interaction and evolution of galaxies in the early universe.

Every galaxy in the universe is believed to host a supermassive black hole at its centre. In some galaxies, the black hole is actively devouring a large amount of material and shooting a jet of plasma almost at the speed of light towards us. These are called blazars.

OJ 287 belongs to a class of blazars known as BL Lacertae objects which show very rapid and large amplitude flux variations but barely discernible emission line features.

This class of sources emit in the whole electromagnetic spectrum, a rather uncommon phenomenon which requires extreme physical conditions. Hence, a study of such sources tells us about the behaviour of matter in an extreme gravitational field where it is difficult for light to escape from the vicinity of the black hole.

Astronomers at Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, have been monitoring one such black hole system named 'OJ 287' since 2015. This source shows a repeated optical brightness enhancement almost every 12 years.

"The repeated optical enhancement makes OJ 287 very intriguing as this class of sources does not show any repeating features in flux variations. The repeated optical enhancement made the researchers believe that the system hosts a binary black hole," said a release from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

In 2020, the source was very bright at optical and X-ray bands with X-ray flux more than 10 times the normal (non-active phase) flux. This flare was very different as it was not expected in models proposed for this source and thus, indicated a more complex system and physical conditions.

Investigating the extreme brightness shown by OJ 287 at optical and X-ray bands, astronomers led by Pankaj Kushwaha and Alok C. Gupta reported the source in a completely new spectral state.

The team argued that this change of state holds clues to the researcher's quest to understand how matter behaves in very strong gravity and how it accelerates the particle to almost the speed of light -- a feat that is out of the scope of even the most advanced CERN accelerator.

The research published in 'The Astrophysical Journal' tracked the details of changes in optical to the X-ray emission spectrum of the source with time from 2017 to 2020 -- after the second brightest X-ray flare of the source. It revealed how the source gradually started to change its spectral behaviour from mid-2018 to the new spectral state in 2020.

The study included data recorded by the ground-based facility operated by Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, operated Mount Abu observing facility in near infra-red bands and the space-based NASA's satellites -- the Niels Gherel Swift satellite at optical, UV and X-rays with gamma ray data from the Fermi satellite, the release added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Science, NASA, Satellites, Black Hole, Gravity, India


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Tospread awareness about the significance of reading, Rachna Kalra, who hails from Gurugram (Haryana), started the Silent Book Club in the year 2019.

Who doesn't like reading, and that, too, reading along the company of mother nature? Well, this book club is truly a fantasy turned to reality.

As said by a regular reader at the Silent Book Club, “There is something meditative about reading. Sitting quietly with a book, without any distractions, is almost spiritual for me," this exactly is the case with many such readers.

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Ninety-eight per cent of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the coming year.

A Travel Sustainable badge, provides highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices. Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industry, designed to be applicable to a wide range of property types, from apartments, B&Bs, and vacation homes to hotels, resorts, and even treehouses, and adaptable to local realities and considerations.

Ninety-eight per cent of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the coming year, and with more than 28 million listings on Booking.com, the company sees a huge opportunity to highlight more of the impactful efforts its partners are making to create more sustainable experiences, making it easier for travellers to find a sustainable way to stay.

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With 88 percent of Indian travellers indicating that they would be more likely to choose a specific accommodation that implements sustainable practices, it rewards and encourages providers to take the next steps on their individual sustainability journeys.

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