Malawi cholera death toll reaches 750
BLANTYRE, Malawi -- The worst cholera outbreak to affect Malawi in two decades has now claimed 750 lives, a government minister said, while the World Health Organization chief described the southeast African country as among the hardest-hit amid ongoing global epidemics that are "more widespread and deadly than normal."
Malawi's Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda on Thursday ordered the closure of many businesses that lack safe water, toilets and hygienic refuse disposal facilities, and announced restrictions on the sale of pre-cooked food.
"We continue to record rising number of cases across the country, despite signs of reduced transmission and deaths in a few areas," Chiponda said in a statement, and urged adherence to sanitation and hygiene measures.
On Wednesday, Chiponda said 17 people had died from 589 new cases of the waterborne disease "in the past 24 hours." She said the country has recorded 22,759 cases since the onset of the outbreak in March last year.
Figures show that about 15 people have been dying daily in recent days, with 155 deaths recorded in the past 10 days. Nearly 1,000 people were hospitalized as of Wednesday.
Medicine tied to 18 Uzbek kids' deaths
NEW DELHI -- The World Health Organization warned Wednesday against two cough medicines made in India after the Uzbekistan Health Ministry linked the syrup to the deaths of at least 18 children.
It is the second WHO medical alert about Indian-manufactured cough syrup, after the United Nations agency acted on the Gambian Health Ministry's allegation that Indian medicines caused the deaths of more than 60 children in October.
The case in Uzbekistan was linked to a facility of Marion Biotech in Noida, outside of Delhi. The Uzbek Health Ministry said 18 out of 21 children suffering from a respiratory illness took an excess amount of the Indian-made syrup and died afterward. The ministry added that the medicine was withdrawn from the market.
The WHO statement said the products had excess levels of diethylene glycol, according to tests carried out by Uzbek authorities, which was the same compound cited in the Gambian case.
Marion Biotech lawyer Hasan Harris told local media that the company "regrets the deaths of children in Uzbekistan" and that the Indian government is conducting an inquiry.
Belarusian opposition activist arrested
TALLINN, Estonia -- An opposition politician who ran against authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the contentious 2020 presidential election has been arrested in Minsk, a human-rights group said Thursday.
Andrey Dzmitryeu, a 41-year-old activist who heads the Tell the Truth movement, was seized by security forces late Wednesday near his home in the Belarusian capital, the Viasna center reported.
The reason for the arrest and the charges against him are still unknown. Dzmitryeu is being held at the notorious Okrestsina Detention Center, where human-rights activists say political prisoners have been tortured. Belarusian authorities declined to comment on the reported detention.
Belarus was shaken by huge anti-government protests after the disputed August 2020 reelection of Lukashenko, which the opposition and the West denounced as having been rigged. Belarusian authorities responded to the demonstrations with a major crackdown that saw more than 35,000 people arrested, thousands beaten by police and dozens of media outlets and nongovernmental organizations shut.
3 Palestinians die in Israeli arrest raids
JERUSALEM -- The Israeli military shot and killed three Palestinians during arrest raids in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest bloodshed in months of rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
The military, which has been carrying out near-nightly raids in the territory since early last year, said soldiers who entered the Qalandia refugee camp before dawn were bombarded by rocks and cement blocks. In response, the military said troops opened fire at Palestinians throwing objects from rooftops. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the man killed as Samir Aslan, 41.
Aslan's sister, Noura Aslan, said Israeli security forces broke into their house at 2:30 a.m. to arrest his 18-year-old son, Ramzi. As Ramzi was being hauled away, his father sprinted to the rooftop to see what was happening, she said. Within moments, an Israeli sniper shot him in the back.
Aslan's wife called an ambulance, but Noura said the army initially prevented medics from reaching the house. As Aslan was bleeding, his family dragged his body down the stairs and called for help. An ambulance picked him up some 20 minutes later, Noura said.
The Israeli army also raided the northern occupied West Bank on Thursday, entering the village of Qabatiya south of the flash point city of Jenin and surrounding a house in the town. The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that Israeli forces fatally shot 25-year-old Habib Kamil and 18-year-old Abdel Hadi Nazal.