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US health officials say Zika virus “scarier” than first thought

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The Zika virus is “scarier” than first thought and the mosquito that spreads it is currently present in around 30 US states, top American health officials say.

The virus is linked to broader set of complications with pregnancy, not just shrunken head or microcephaly, but also prematurity, blindness and other conditions, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

There was deep concern about Puerto Rico where they may be hundreds of thousands of cases, principal deputy director of the CDC Dr Anne Schuchat said.

She said there was hope there would not be broad transmission across the US mainland, but that authorities needed to be prepared.

“Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought,” Dr Schuchat said.

“And so while we absolutely hope we don’t see widespread local transmission in the continental US, we need the states to be ready for that.

“We can’t assume we’re not going to have a big problem.”

A request by President Barack Obama for nearly $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) in assistance to fight the virus has stalled in Congress.

Zika, linked to numerous cases of the birth defect micocephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The White House said last week in the absence of the emergency funds it will redirect $US589 million ($775 million), mostly from money already provided by Congress to tackle the Ebola virus, to prepare for Zika before it begins to emerge in the continental US as the weather warms.

Agencies

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Nirmala Panta rape, murder case : Locals protest after wrong suspect paraded

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BHIMDUTTANAGAR — Locals who were protesting against the rape and murder of Nirmala Panta of Kanchanpur’s Bhimdatta Municipality, have enforced shutdown in Bhimduttanagar Bazaar on Tuesday, protesting police’s failure to reveal facts behind the murder of 13-year-old girl and parading wrong suspect on Monday.

The District Police Office, organising a press conference on Monday,had made public Dilip Singh Bista (41), of Baghphanta, Bhimdatta Municipality-19 as Nirmala’s murderer.

Locals have shut down the market area stating that police were not being able to make public the true murderer(s) as they are not convinced by the findings of police citing that Bista was mentally unsound, according to the District Police Office.

Transportation has also been halted.

Bista, a resident of Khanna Chauraha area in Bhimdutta Municipality-19, was apprehended near the scene of crime on Sunday, according to police.

Police making public the wrong suspect has infuriated the locals and fueled the protest.

The agitators including various civil society organisations and human rights defenders have been picketing the District Administration Office and staging rally on the street mounting pressure on the police to reveal the facts behind the heinous crime.

Meanwhile, it had been learnt that police have fired rounds of teargas shells to contain the agitated mob.

Nirmala was found murdered in a sugarcane field on July 27, a day after she had gone to her friend’s home to get a notebook.

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