Liberia's warring factions were expected to sit down together yesterday to choose the leader of a two-year transition government to end 14 years of bloodshed, officials said. \nPresident Moses Blah's government and two rebel groups must choose from three candidates shortlisted on Tuesday by political parties and other interest groups meeting in nearby Ghana. \nDue to take power in mid-October, the new government will face the task of reuniting a country divided by civil war for most of the time since Charles Taylor launched a rebellion in late 1989. Blah took power when Taylor left for exile last week. \nThe choice is between former UN official and open Taylor opponent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Rudolph Sherman, who heads a coalition regarded as broadly sympathetic to Taylor, and Monrovia businessman Jyude Bryant of the Liberia Action Party. \nTaylor's departure paved the way for rebels to hand over control of parts of Liberia's capital Monrovia to a regional peacekeeping force backed by US Marines and aircraft. \nBut with some armed rebels still around, security is still a huge concern to aid agencies desperately trying to get emergency supplies in through the devastated port to help hundreds of thousands of people left destitute by the war. \nThe UN World Food Program says at least half a million people need food aid and the European Commission is proposing a 50-million-euro (US$55 million) aid package. \nSome of that would fund a West African peacekeeping mission that currently has 1,500 Nigerian troops in Monrovia but should soon double in size and get a UN mandate. \nOutside the capital, the humanitarian and security situation is even worse. \nGovernment and rebel officials said their forces had clashed on Monday and Tuesday in central Liberia.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and