Dengue fever cases jump
Guangdong Province has reported a sharp rise in mosquito-transmitted dengue fever cases in the past two months, with dozens of people still in hospital, state media said yesterday. Experts blamed recent humid and hot weather and inadequate anti-mosquito efforts in the area for the recent increase, the Southern Metropolis Daily said. Most of the more than 70 infections so far this year have been reported since June, and more than 20 patients were still being treated in a hospital in the capital Guangzhou, prompting authorities to issue an epidemic warning.
Bird flu `vaccine' safe
A vaccine against the H5N1 strain of bird flu in humans has been found safe in its first round of tests, a government news agency said yesterday. Researchers began work on a vaccine last year. The government said then it was ready to start mass production, but any vaccine would face more rounds of testing before it could be declared safe for human use. Tests were conducted on six human volunteers at a Beijing hospital between last November and June, Xinhua news agency said.
Scores to stay private
Students long accustomed to being publicly honored or disgraced by the open ranking of exam scores may soon be able to celebrate their intelligence, or hide their shame, in private. Over the weekend, the Education Ministry barred primary and middle schools from making public rankings of test scores, a practice that has been blamed for student depression and even suicides. The measures would not be applicable to high schools.
Boy dies playing with grenade
One boy was killed and five others wounded while playing with a grenade left over from decades of fighting in Aceh Province, police said yesterday. The children found the explosive outside a former military post in the town of Bireun on Sunday, and started hitting it with a piece of wood, said Lieutenant Colonel Supriyanto Tarah, the local police chief. The device detonated, killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding five others, aged four to 12, Tarah said, adding that a bomb-squad later scoured the area but did not find any other explosives.
Probe of video launched
The government is investigating a video clip that shows two men allegedly being beaten and humiliated in police custody, with one of them forced to lick saliva from a floor, news reports said yesterday. An initial investigation indicates the grainy footage -- broadcast on the private TV3 network's evening news on Saturday -- was filmed by a policeman with a cellphone camera at a police station in a Kuala Lumpur suburb in May, Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum was quoted as saying. "The interrogation of the suspects was done badly,'' Johari was quoted as saying by the Star newspaper. ``It should not have happened that way."
■ New Zealand
Ex-minister in more trouble
Fresh allegations of graft against a sacked Cabinet minister are awful and he should reconsider his future as a lawmaker, Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday. She stopped short of demanding former junior minister Taito Phillip Field give up his parliamentary seat, saying he had suffered "public humiliation" and his future was up to the ruling Labour Party. Field was sacked from his post by Clark after an independent inquiry found him guilty of "misjudgments" in aiding immigrants -- some of whom he employed at cheap rates to work on properties he owned. Allegations at the weekend said Field had also pocketed donations from constituents, acted inappropriately by having immigrants work for little pay in return for getting them work visas and altered a birth certificate.