WHO | Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

(Beginning to look like H7N1 outbreak in China and as if natural system is “probing” the human system for a path to re-balance the system to the state before so much of agriculture had become industrialized)

WHO has been informed of an additional 18 new laboratory-confirmed cases including three deaths with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.

The patients are reported from Hafar Al-Batin, Medina and Riyadh. Their ages ranging from three to 75 years old. These cases were announced by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia on 1, 5, 8, 10 and 11 September 2013.

Additionally, in Qatar, a previously laboratory-confirmed patient with MERS-CoV died on 6 September 2013.

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 132 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 58 deaths.

via WHO | Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update.

Diplomacy may make Bashar disposable | Opinion , Columnist | THE DAILY STAR

Within a week, one story – punishing Bashar Assad for his probable use of chemical weapons against civilians in the Ghouta region – has been pushed aside by another: the possibility of a rapprochement between Iran and the United States, even as Washington is coordinating its policies toward Syria with another adversary, Russia.

It’s best in these cases not to get carried away by optimism. Diplomacy and dialogue are not ends in themselves. Yet the potential opportunities are great, whether for Syria or the rest of the Middle East, if broader understandings can be reached between the main regional and global actors. And tectonic shifts, if they occur, may ultimately ensure that Assad is politically disposable.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made normalization with the West a central plank of his political program. Critically, he seems to have the support of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. On Tuesday, Khamenei endorsed Rouhani’s position, saying Iran should embrace diplomacy over militarism and that it was time for “heroic leniency.”

In remarks to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Khamenei said, “[I]t is not necessary for the IRGC to be active in the political field, but defending the revolution requires that they understand political realities.” This appeared to be Khamenei’s way of legitimizing Rouhani’s opening in front of an institution that, potentially, may pose problems for the president down the road.

From the Obama administration’s perspective, bringing Iran into negotiations on Syria’s future is necessary, even if the pitfalls are many. Supporting Assad’s regime has become a burden even for his closest partners, who might welcome a transition away from the Syrian president if it means they can preserve their interests in Syria.

via Diplomacy may make Bashar disposable | Opinion , Columnist | THE DAILY STAR.

Despite missteps, Obama hasn’t done badly in Syria | Opinion , Columnist | THE DAILY STAR

Here’s what I see when I deconstruct the Syria story:

Russia has been drawn into a process of collecting and destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal. This has been a goal of U.S. policy for two years. It finally worked thanks in part to Obama’s pledge to use military force to punish Syria if the Russians didn’t step up. In this messy world, there is considerable value in agreement by Moscow and Washington on the “soonest and safest” destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, with a timetable for implementation.

The United Nations has taken new steps to affirm the international norm against use of chemical weapons. The 41-page report delivered this week to Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon isn’t a joke, as some predicted; it’s a surprisingly thorough, careful documentation of the horrific attack on Aug. 21.

via Despite missteps, Obama hasn’t done badly in Syria | Opinion , Columnist | THE DAILY STAR.

Avian Flu Diary: Xinhua News: Cambodia Reports 19th & 20th H5N1 Case Of Year

Two more new human cases of avian influenza have been confirmed for the H5N1 virus in Cambodia, bringing the number of the cases to 20 so far this year, a hospital spokesman said Thursday.


A five-year-old girl from Takeo province and a two-year-old girl from Kampot province, who already died on Wednesday, marked the 19th and 20th confirmed cases of avian influenza this year, said Dr. Denis Laurent, deputy director of Kantha Bopha Children’ s Hospital, the kingdom’s largest pediatric hospital. “The little girl from Kampot was in very serious condition when she arrived at our hospital and died Wednesday,” he told Xinhua.” The little girl from Takeo still hospitalizes, but her condition is stable.”

via Avian Flu Diary: Xinhua News: Cambodia Reports 19th & 20th H5N1 Case Of Year.