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What’s in a name? WHO tiptoes around what to call virus

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AFP

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Keen to avoid stigmatising the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, or Chinese people, the World Health Organization is treading carefully on naming the new virus.

The UN health agency’s official temporary name for the disease, which it has designated as a global health emergency, is “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease”.

The date refers to when it was first identified on December 31, 2019 and “nCoV” stands for “novel coronavirus” — the family of viruses it belongs to.

“We thought it was very important that we provide an interim name so that no location was associated with the name,” Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s Emerging Diseases unit, told the agency’s executive board on Friday.

“I’m sure you’ve all seen many media reports that are still calling it using Wuhan or China and we wanted to ensure that there was no stigma,” she said.

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The final decision on a name is expected within days and is up to the WHO itself as well as coronavirus experts on the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

But picking a more specific name is fraught with dangers.

Under a set of guidelines issued in 2015, WHO advises against using place names such as Ebola and Zika, where those diseases were first identified and which are now inevitably linked to them in the public imagination.

Sylvie Briand, head of WHO’s Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division, said this week that the use of a place name created “an unnecessary burden”.

More general names such as “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” or “Spanish flu” are also to be avoided as they can stigmatise entire regions or ethnic groups.

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“It is the responsibility of us all to ensure that there is no stigma associated with this disease, and the unnecessary and unhelpful profiling of individuals based on ethnicity is utterly and completely unacceptable,” said Michael Ryan, head of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.

The WHO also points out that using animal species in the name can create confusion such as H1N1, which was popularly referred to as “swine flu”.

This had a major effect for the pork industry even though the disease was being spread by people rather than pigs.

H1N1 was also sometimes also called Mexican flu “which was not very nice for Mexican people,” Briand said.

People’s names — usually the scientists who identified the disease — are also banned, as are “terms that incite undue fear” such as “unknown” or “fatal”, the WHO said.

“We’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals,” the WHO said in its guidelines.

Instead, it recommended that any new name should be descriptive and include the causative pathogen if known, as well as being short and easy to pronounce.

“We are really trying to be as neutral as possible, but as helpful as possible as well, because we need to name things with the same name everywhere in the world if we want to tackle the enemy in the same way,” Briand said.

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DCI probes Nzoia bosses over Sh961k scandal: The Standard

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KenyaAccording to an insider at Nzoia Sugar, the 228 bags were supplied to a trader based in Nairobi, who made the payment to the miller’s account.

Sleuths from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have started probing senior Nzoia Sugar Company managers over the loss of 228 bags of sugar valued at Sh961,400.
At the centre of investigations are managers of a local bank in Nairobi where the payments to the miller’s account were made, but the money could not be traced thereafter. 
According to an insider at Nzoia Sugar, the 228 bags were supplied to a trader based in Nairobi, who made the payment to the miller’s account.
SEE ALSO: Detectives nab two suspects for conning man Sh72,000
Bungoma South DCI boss Yusuf Nzioka (pictured) told The Standard yesterday that they are following crucial leads that will help in the prosecution of the company’s managers, as well as the bank staffers who were involved in the syndicate.
Nzioka said following the supply of the 228 bags, the trader made payments in cash to the bank, which reflected to the firm’s account but could not be traced later.
“We are following up on how the payments were made in cash to Nzoia Sugar, which reflected in its account but could not be traced. We will leave no stone unturned until all the suspects are prosecuted,” said Nzioka.
Nzoia Sugar Managing Director Michael Wanjala, in a press statement dated May 27, confirmed that the sugar could not be accounted for and a probe was underway. 
“Nzoia Sugar Company has lost 228 bags of sugar worth Sh961,400 to a fraudster who presented a fake cash deposit slip to the company on May 14,” said Wanjala.
SEE ALSO: DCI intercept, arrest man linked with sale of fake alcohol brands
“We would like to confirm that the company reported the case to the relevant authorities and investigations are underway.”
He said a complete report of the investigations would be communicated to the public once the investigation is concluded.
Nzoia Sugar resumed operations on February 14 this year after a five-month maintenance break and has paid farmers Sh180 million since it resumed operations.
“We ask farmers to be patient as we are on the right track, since we have paid out Sh180 million to some of them,” said Wanjala.

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Father, son jailed for 20 and 15 years respectively for raping neighbour: The Standard

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Rift ValleyCourt rules prosecution had submitted enough evidence against the two

A man and his son have been handed 20 and 15 years-jail terms respectively for raping a woman in Kuresoi North in 2018.
John Chirchir, 58 and his son Vincent Lang’at, 28 were found guilty of raping the 28-year-old woman from Telowa village.
According to the court, the two jointly violated the woman who was their neighbour against her will on June 27, 2018.
SEE ALSO: COVID-19: Nakuru MCAs risk lives to meet over Sh14,500 allowance
The two were arrested on the same day and produced before court on the following day for plea taking.
While delivering his judgement, Molo Resident Magistrate Emmanuel Soita said the prosecution led by John Limo had submitted enough evidence against the two.
The Magistrate noted that five witnesses were called on testifies against the suspects.
The same court also handed a ten-year jail term to Samuel Kiprono who is accused of defiling a nine-year-old girl at Keringet area in Kuresoi South.

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Sudan says three jailed Bashir aides have virus

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AFP

By AFP
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Sudanese authorities said Wednesday that three former senior aides to ousted president Omar al-Bashir have caught the novel coronavirus in prison.

Former officials Ali Othman Taha, Ahmed Mohamed Haroun and Abdulreheem Mohamed Hussein have been held in Khartoum’s Kober prison since Bashir’s military ouster in April 2019 following mass protests against his rule.

All three are awaiting trial in Sudan for corruption and other offences.

Haroun and Hussein, who held top government positions under Bashir, are wanted by the International Criminal Court over their role in the Darfur conflict.

On Wednesday, Sudan’s public prosecution said the three men had tested positive for Covid-19, which has so far infected 4,146 people and killed 184 in the country.

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Haroun has been in an isolation centre in northern Khartoum since late April, the statement said.

Prison authorities tested the others on May 20 and transferred Hussein to a hospital in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, and Taha to an isolation centre in central Khartoum, according to the statement.

Taha served as vice president under Bashir between 1998-2013, and was previously Sudan’s foreign minister.

Hussein served in several positions including defence and interior minister. He was also assigned governor of Khartoum before Bashir’s ouster.

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Haroun served as minister of state for the interior, minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and governor of the conflict-ridden South Kordofan.

All three were members of Bashir’s now-defunct National Congress Party.

The Hague-based ICC charged Bashir and others — including Haroun and Hussein — with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict which erupted in 2003.

The fighting started when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of political and economic marginalisation of their region.

The United Nations estimates around 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million others displaced in the conflict.

Human rights groups say Khartoum targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

In February, Sudan’s transitional authorities, who took power in August, agreed that Bashir and his aides should stand trial before the ICC.

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