Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 29th 2016 Contents A19
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Palestinian militant group
Hamas says seven of its fight-
ers have died after an attack
tunnel they were working on
in north-east Gaza collapsed.
The tunnel near the Israeli
border collapsed after heavy
rain, it said.
Palestinian militants have
used tunnels on Gaza s borders
with Israel and Egypt to launch
attacks on Israel, transport
weapons or smuggle goods.
Israel destroyed dozens of
tunnels during the 2014 Gaza
conflict, but Hamas has been
Meanwhile, tunnels on the
Egyptian border have been
used to smuggle weapons into
Gaza, as well as civilian goods.
The tunnels have played a
vital role in the economy of
Gaza, which has been under a
blockade imposed by Israel and
Egypt in 2007.
Israel occupied Gaza in the
1967 Middle East war and
pulled its troops and settlers
out in 2005.
Israel considered this the end
of the occupation, but it still
exercises control over most of
Gaza s borders, waters and air-
space. Egypt controls Gaza s
southern border. (BBC)
Hamas militants die in tunnel collapse
Euphoric faithful greet Pope Francis as he arrives to
lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at
the Vatican, Wednesday. REUTERS PHOTO
Geovane Silva holds his son Gustavo Henrique, who has microcephaly, at the Oswaldo Cruz Hospital in Recife, Brazil, Tuesday. Health
authorities in the Brazilian state at the centre of a rapidly spreading Zika outbreak have been overwhelmed by the alarming surge in
cases of babies born with microcephaly, a neurological disorder associated to the mosquito-borne virus. REUTERS PHOTO
A school girl steps over a puddle in Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, Wednesday. Zika outbreaks have been
reported in Haiti. The virus is spread by the Aedes
aegypti mosquito, which is notoriously adaptive.
The insect thrives in puddles, nooks and crannies
common in tropical cities peppered with chaotic
and unplanned neighbourhoods, where rainwater,
open sewers and litter offer ample habitat.
An Iraqi refugee returning from Germany kneels
down and kisses the ground after arriving at Erbil
airport in Iraq Wednesday. REUTERS PHOTO
HOME AT LAST!
GENEVA---Declaring that the Zika virus
is "spreading explosively," the World Health
Organization announced it will hold an
emergency meeting of independent experts
Monday to decide if the outbreak should
be declared an international health emer-
At a special meeting Thursday in Geneva,
WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan
said the virus was becoming much more of
a threat. One WHO scientist said the Amer-
icas could see up to four million cases of
Zika in the next year.
Chan said although there was no definitive
proof that the Zika virus was responsible
for a spike in the number of babies being
born with abnormally small heads in Brazil,
"the level of alarm is extremely high." She
also noted a possible relationship between
Zika infections and Guillain-Barre syndrome,
which can cause temporary paralysis.
The Zika virus was first detected in 1947
and for decades only caused mild disease,
but Chan noted that "the situation today
is dramatically different." According to the
US Centers for Disease Control, the Zika
virus is now in more than 20 countries,
mostly in Central and South America. It is
spread by the same mosquito that spreads
dengue and yellow fever.
Sylvain Aldighieri, head of WHO s epi-
demic response team in the Americas, esti-
mated there could be three to four million
Zika infections in the region over the next
year. He said the agency expects "huge
numbers" of infections because of the wide-
spread presence of the Aedes mosquitoes
that spread Zika and because people in the
region have no natural immunity.
WHO also warned China and all other
countries that have dengue fever to be on
the lookout for Zika infections. The agency
said it could be many years before a vaccine
Declaring a global emergency is akin to
an international SOS signal and usually
brings more money and action to address
There is no specific treatment or vaccine
for Zika, which is related to dengue. Sci-
entists have struggled for years to develop
a dengue vaccine, the first such shot made
by Sanofi Pasteur was licensed last year in
...four million cases predicted
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