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Spain announces first known European case of Zika virus

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MADRID — Spain on Thursday confirmed that a pregnant woman has infected with the Zika virus, the first such known European case.

“One of the patients diagnosed in (the northeastern region of) Catalonia is a pregnant woman, who showed symptoms after having travelled to Colombia,” the health ministry announced, adding she is one of seven cases in Spain and all are in good condition.

The mosquito-borne virus — thought to cause birth defects — has seen an outbreak in the Americas and health authorities have warned it could infect up to four million people on the continent and spread worldwide.

Spain’s health ministry nevertheless sought to ease concerns, pointing out that all seven patients had caught the disease abroad.

“Up to now, the diagnosed cases of Zika virus in Spain… don’t risk spreading the virus in our country as they are imported cases,” it said.

So far in Europe, all those diagnosed with the disease caught it while travelling abroad, and none of them were pregnant — until now.

The news comes a day after South American health ministers held an emergency meeting in Uruguay on the disease.

The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fuelled fears that it will not be easy to contain.

Brazil said it was sending more than 500,000 personnel out to clean up mosquito breeding grounds and advise people about the disease.

The World Health Organization has declared the spike in serious birth defects an international emergency and launched a global Zika response unit.

Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica and the US territory of Puerto Rico have all warned women not to get pregnant.

There is no specific treatment for Zika, and several pharmaceutical companies are developing vaccines against it.

Indian drugs company Bharat Biotech, for instance, said it was developing the world’s first Zika vaccine and was ready to test it on animals.

Zika, which is spreading through the Americas, has been linked to babies being born with underdeveloped brains.

The disease starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash. The virus has also been linked to a potentially paralysing nerve disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome in some patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the microcephaly condition, linked to the mosquito-borne virus, a global public health emergency.

AFP

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DPM Pokharel gets responsibility of Officiating PM

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KATHMANDU — Ahead of his visit to the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has given the responsibility of the Officiating PM to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokharel.

PM Oli, who is also the chairman of Nepal Communist Party (CPN), is leaving here for China today.

Similarly, Oli has appointed party’s senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as the officiating chairman of CPN, according to CPN central committee member Bishnu Rijal. Currently, another chairman of CPN Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ is out of the country.

Likewise, deputy parliamentary party leader of CPN Subas Chandra Nembang has got the responsibility of officiating parliamentary party leader in the absence of parliamentary party leader and PM Oli.

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