A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11,000 across West Africa, the government said on Thursday.
It is not yet known whether the new Bombali species of the virus – which researchers say could be transmitted to humans – can develop into the deadly Ebola disease.
“At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people but it has the potential to infect human cells,” Amara Jambai, a senior ministry of health official, told AFP.
“This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research.
A health ministry spokesperson and a researcher who worked on the discovery confirmed the findings to AFP.
Researchers who found the new virus in the northern Bombali region are now working with the Sierra Leone government to determine whether any humans were infected.
“As precautionary measures, people should refrain from eating bats,” Harold Thomas, health ministry spokesperson told AFP.
The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The West African outbreak was caused by the Zaire species, which has historically been the most deadly in humans since it was first identified in 1976.
That outbreak killed more than 11 300 people out of nearly 29 000 registered cases, according to World Health Organisation estimates.
The WHO declared the epidemic over in January this year, but this was followed by flare-ups in all three countries.
Germany Hosts Summit On Peace, Politics In Libya
Leaders from 12 countries met in Germany on Sunday, in hopes of laying a foundation for a lasting cease-fire, between Libya’s rival governments.
German chancellor Angela Merkel invited to the summit world leaders, as well as representatives from the united nations, the European Union, the African Union, and the Arab League. Libya’s two main rival leaders, former general Khalifa Haftar and Fayez Sarraj, were also present.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who support Haftar and Sarraj respectively, spoke before the summit on Sunday, with Erdogan calling for Haftar to abandon what he called a “hostile attitude.”
Turkey and Russia helped broker a fragile cease-fire in Libya which took effect last week, but both sides have accused one another of breaking it.
The leaders made a commitment at the summit to curb continued foreign interference in the conflict.
U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who also attended, emphasized, before the summit started, “the need for a lasting ceasefire, a return to a U.N.-facilitated political process, and the end of all foreign intervention in Libya.”
Internet Slows Across Africa As Major Undersea Cables Falter
Some millions of Africans have been experiencing extremely slow internet connectivity since late last week.
The problem is caused by cuts to two major undersea cables along the west African coast. A fault developed by the West Africa Cable System, WACS, has caused major telecom companies and internet service providers to lose connectivity.
Countries across the west, central and southern African coast have been suffering slow internet connectivity since Thursday. Reports say even some mobile phone users are affected as well.
The WACS connects parts of the continent to the United Kingdom, and the South Atlantic submarine cable, which extends as far as to Portugal and Spain.
Openserve, the company that operates these cables, said in a statement on Thursday, there is reduced speed on international browsing, international voice calling and mobile roaming.
The company has called on clients to be patient, because undersea cable infrastructure repairs are complex, and can be time-consuming. Services are affected in Ghana, Cameroon, The Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and parts of South Africa.
Son Of Noted Muslim Preacher Shot In South Africa
In the coastal city of Durban on Wednesday, a South African activist and son of a deceased prominent Muslim preacher is fighting for his life in a hospital after he was shot outside a court.
65-year-old Yousuf Deedat – son of Sheikh Ahmed Deedat – was shot in the head as he walked towards the Verulam family court on the outskirts of Durban with his wife, Police colonel Thembeka Mbele said.
Deedat was rushed to a hospital for medical attention after an unknown suspect who fled in a car in an unknown direction opened fire, shooting him in the head.
On Wednesday, Deedat’s family said in a statement that “he is in critical condition in a local hospital. While his injuries remain severe, we remain hopeful for Deedat’s recovery.”
Yousuf’s father, Sheikh, who died in 2005 was known across the world as a respected public speaker and writer who published several widely-distributed booklets on Islam and Christianity.
Sheikh was a prominent South African Muslim missionary who held several interfaith public debates with evangelical Christians. He was the founder of the Islamic Propagation Centre International, which aims for Islam to be heard and understood across the world.
Police said they were still investigating the reason behind his shooting.
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