Child has rare virus
Scientists have diagnosed a child suffering from respiratory illness as being infected with the human bocavirus, which was only identified last year, the Guangming Daily reported yesterday. The child, from Chenzhou, Hunan Province, had been admitted to hospital with a severe respiratory infection, the paper said. DNA tests then confirmed the child had contracted the virus, the daily said. A group of Swedish researchers were the first to identify the previously unknown virus last August. They said that it may cause many cases of serious respiratory infections in children.
Snail-eaters struck ill
At least 50 people have been diagnosed with parasite-caused meningitis after eating raw or half-cooked snails at Beijing restaurants, China Daily reported on its Web site yesterday. The first case of what now looks like a city-wide problem involved a 34-year-old man who complained about severe headaches and nausea in June after eating a dish of cold snail meat, the report said. While no deaths have been reported yet, five of the patients identified at different hospitals are in a serious condition, the paper said. The actual number of patients might be higher than 50, as it takes up to a month for symptoms to appear.
Top official to visit Africa
A member of the Chinese Communist Party's nine-man Standing Committee will visit four African countries beginning next week, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Wu Guanzheng (吳官正) will visit Rwanda, Madagascar, Botswana and Gabon on the trip that lasts from next Sunday through Sept. 10.
■ Sri Lanka
Ex-Tamil politician killed
A former Tamil politician and newspaper chief was killed outside his home in Jaffna Peninsula, police said yesterday. Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, 68, was fatally shot on Sunday night, police and members of the former lawmaker's party said. Sivamaharajah was a member of the Tamil National Alliance, a political party widely believed to be a proxy of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
Thaksin sues critic
The criminal court yesterday agreed to hear a suit by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra against a staunch critic who accused him of using black magic to maintain his political fortunes. Thaksin filed the defamation suit against Sondhi Limthongkul, a media tycoon who led months of street protests in an effort to oust the prime minister. Sondhi has publicly charged that Thaksin was deeply superstitious, believed in black magic and had resorted to the black arts in his political battles. "The court has accepted the charges and set Oct. 2 for the first hearing," said Chatree Klipasaro, Thaksin's lawyer.
Music icon dies
Music legend Bismillah Khan, who enthralled generations with his shehnai, an Indian wind instrument, died yesterday of a heart attack, hospital officials said. He was 90. Khan, a recipient of India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, or Jewel India, had been ailing for months and was hospitalized last month in Varanasi City after his condition worsened. Khan suffered a heart attack late on Sunday, said Dr. P.S.R. Aiyar at Heritage Hospital. Khan was to be given a state funeral later yesterday, said Nitin Gokaran Ramesh, a spokesman for the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Varanasi is located. All schools and colleges in the state were to be closed and the national flag was to fly at half-staff, he said.