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African Nations Cup in jeopardy amid Ebola fears

The nation of Morocco has failed to meet a deadline to confirm it will go ahead with the hosting of January's African Nations Cup finals amid fears over the spread of the Ebola virus, throwing the 2015 tournament into jeopardy.

African Cup of Nations Trophy. Credit: Liewig Christian/ABACA/Press Association Images

Morocco officials, who want the 16-team event postponed, said they had rejected an ultimatum set by the Confederation of African Football to confirm their hosting of the continental championship, set for January 17 to February 8.

A decision on the tournament will now be made next week when CAF have an executive committee meeting in Cairo but Morocco are almost certain to be stripped as hosts.

Zambia appoints Africa's first white leader in 20 years

Zambia has appointed Guy Scott to be its interim leader until an election can be held, making him the continent's first white head of state in 20 years.

Zambia's new interim leader Guy Scott Credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

Guy Scott, a Cambridge-educated economist born to Scottish parents, was previously vice president in the central African country.

His appointment follows the death of Zambia's President Michael Sata in a London hospital following an unspecified illness.

Mr Scott, 70, is the first white head of state in an African country since South Africa's apartheid government of F.W. de Klerk. He is not eligible to stand in the forthcoming presidential elections due to citizenship restrictions.


Poachers making African elephant losses 'unsustainable'

Poachers killed more than 33,600 African elephants each year between 2010 and 2012 making their losses unsustainable, a new study has shown.

Elephants orphaned by poaching in Kenya. Credit: Reuters

Over that period alone an estimated 6.8% of the continent's elephant population was wiped out by the illegal ivory trade, scientists said.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers said that the very existence of the African elephant was threatened.

They wrote: "Our analysis demonstrates the heavy toll illegal ivory trade is taking on African elephants, and suggests current off-take exceeds the intrinsic growth capacity of the species."

They added: "These results provide the most comprehensive assessment of illegal ivory harvest to date and confirm that current ivory consumption is not sustainable."

UK hospitals on 'alert' after Ebola outbreak in Africa

The Health Protection Agency has told ITV News hospitals in the UK have been put on "alert" after an outbreak of the Ebola virus killed at least 78 people in Guinea, West Africa. But the HPA said it was "extremely unlikely" it would reach Britain.

Health Protection Agency: UK hospitals on Ebola 'alert'

The Health Protection Agency's director of Global Health has said that UK hospitals have been put on "alert" over Ebola after an outbreak of the virus killed at least 78 in Guinea, West Africa.

Dr Brian McClusky told ITV News: "What we have done is make sure all hospitals in the UK have been alerted, so if a patient turns up, who has those symptoms, who has been to that part of West Africa, they can be tested and looked after in specialist facilities in London.

He added: "The chance of it spreading outside West Africa is relatively small, because essentially people get ill relatively quickly. They are not likely get on a plane and survive a journey.

"It's technically possible that somebody could get on a plane and arrive in the UK. It's extremely unlikely."


WHO official takes swipe at MSF over Ebola severity

The Head of PR for the World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken to Twitter to downplay the severity of the current Ebola virus in Guinea, with Médecins Sans Frontières.

MSF started by tweeting that this type of Ebola virus "kills 9 out of every 10 patients," before Gregory Härtl of WHO jumped in and told them not to "exaggerate."

Härtl continued to the discuss the issues with other followers, especially the issue of travel bans and airports.

What is the Ebola virus?

The Ebola virus is named after the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, where the first reported outbreak was reported in 1976.

Medecins Sans Frontieres describes Ebola as:

One of the world’s most deadly diseases. It is a highly infectious virus that can kill up to 90 percent of the people who catch it, causing terror among infected communities.


Ebola spreads in the blood and shuts down the immune system at first, causing a high fever, headache and muscle pain.

The World Health Organisation categorises the Ebola virus as follows:

  • Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals, mainly bats, and spreads through human-to-human transmission.
  • No specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals.

Ebola is a 'regional threat' say West African ministers

West African foreign ministers have said that the Ebola outbreak is a "threat to regional security."

A number of countries have stepped up border and flight checks. Senegal have said it was imposing sanitary checks at borders "until further notice."

Donka Hospital, Conakry, where Ebola victims are being treated. Credit: REUTERS/Saliou Samb

In Conakry people remained calm but some executives at international mining companies voiced concern according to the Telegraph.

"We have asked our employees to avoid physical contact, especially in hospitals," said one executive with a mining firm.

People also avoided shaking hands, an important part of West African greetings.

Five deaths are currently being investigated in Liberia and one in Sierra Leone. At least 78 people in Guinea have known to have died so far.

The Morocco health ministry told MAP News they have put up precautionary measures "especially at Casablanca airport," a key transportation hub for north and west Africa.

Bat eating blamed as Ebola spreads in Guinea

The western African country of Guinea has forbidden the sale and consumption of bats, rats and monkeys as the country fights the spread of Ebola which has claimed the lives of over 70 people so far.

“We discovered the vector agent of the Ebola virus is the bat,” said Remy Lamah, the country’s health minister, in an interview from the town of N’zerekore to Bloomberg News.

“People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals.” Communities eat bats in rural areas around the Ebola-stricken towns of Macenta, Gueckedou and Kissidougou.

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