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The ban has resulted in huge financial distress for the industry.
NW cattle farmers lose millions due to foot and mouth outbreak
30 December 2019, 6:13 PM

Cattle farmers and livestock auctioneers in the North West are taking the Ministry of Agriculture to court over its decision to ban the movement and selling of livestock.

A countrywide ban was imposed, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Limpopo.

Bleeding from the closure of their businesses, cattle farmers and auctioneers say only the affected areas should have been quarantined. The ban has resulted in huge financial distress for the industry.

The Department of Agriculture cannot confirm when restrictions on the sale and movement of cattle will be lifted amid the foot and mouth disease outbreak.

Department spokesperson, Reggie Ngcobo says, “We can confirm that there’s no decision that has been taken to uplift the ban of movement of animals. But what we are doing as the department, we are working very closely with the industry to come up with movement control measures to ensure that when the Minister is advised to uplift the ban then there are control measures. We can confirm there are 14 farms that are affected in Limpopo with almost 20 000 cattle.”

It has now been two months since Onderstepoort confirmed the latest outbreak. Infected cattle were found on eleven farms and feedlots in Limpopo.

The properties, as well as those adjacent, were placed under quarantine.

Farmers, auctioneers, feedlots and exporters could lose millions as their businesses remain closed.

Subsistence farmers are the hardest hit as sales make up the bulk of their income at this time of year.

Man survives crocodile attack in Mlumati River
30 December 2019, 5:11 PM

A man from Mpumalanga is recovering in the hospital after a crocodile attacked him in the Mlumati River.

The attack happened on Christmas Eve, while 67-year-old Alex Masinga was swimming in the crocodile-infested river during a heatwave.

“While I was taking a bath in the Mlumati River, a crocodile bit my back as I tried to fight it off.”

It emerged that this wasn’t Masinga’s first encounter with a crocodile. In 2006, he hacked to death a crocodile in the same river.

The number of people drowning in streams and rivers in Mpumalanga is on the rise and the scorching heat is blamed for the drowning incidents.

Mpumalanga Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) are urging people to fight the temptation of swimming in rivers.

Swimming lessons may seem far-fetched but Vusi Shabangu from Mpumalanga COGTA says that it is one biggest deterrent to more people drowning.

“Compared to last year the province lost over 40 people through drowning, while last year it was thirty-plus. Keep supervision over children around water, learn to swim and ensure safety. ”

Most rivers in the Mpumalanga Lowveld are crocodile infested, and they are not a threat to people like Alex Masinga – but to livestock too.

Man sentenced to 15 years for role in murder of Slovak journalist
30 December 2019, 4:24 PM

A Slovak court handed a 15 year prison sentence to a man charged with facilitating the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018 in a plea deal on Monday, a spokeswoman said.

The killing of Kuciak and his fiancee, both 27, at their home outside Bratislava in February 2018 sparked mass protests against corruption in the central European nation, shaking the government. The case will play a role in a parliamentary election due in February.

Zoltan Andrusko, 42, was one of five charged in the case but the only to confess and seek a plea deal to act as a witness.

The trial of the other four, including entrepreneur Marian Kocner who was a subject of Kuciak’s reporting on fraud cases involving politically connected businessmen, started on Dec. 19 and will continue in January.

Andrusko had agreed a 10-year sentence with prosecutors but a court on Monday rejected that deal and proposed a longer sentence, which the defendant accepted, the court said.

“This court considers the extraordinary reduced sentence as justified, as well as logical, but the court, by its decision, should seek justice not only for the accused but for all sides of the case, for society, for justice in the law,” newspaper Dennik N cited judge Pamela Zaleska as saying.

Prosecutors say Kocner had ordered Kuciak’s killing. He and his accomplices, who have all pled not guilty, face up to life in prison if convicted. The case is a test of Slovak judicial independence given that the investigation exposed links between Kocner and police and public officials.

The murders stoked widespread public anger and forced Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign last year. His ruling Smer party faces a tight election on Feb. 29.

India end boycott threat, to compete in Birmingham 2022
30 December 2019, 3:41 PM

India will participate in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham reversing earlier plans to boycott the event over the absence of shooting as a medal sport, the country’s Olympic association and the Games organisers announced on Monday.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had threatened to boycott the Games after shooting — which supplied 16 of their 66 medals at the 2018 Gold Coast Games — was dropped from the Birmingham programme as it is an optional sport for host cities.

India finished third in last year’s medals table but in the absence of shooting, they could slip to anywhere between fifth and eighth place in 2022, according to IOA estimates.

Sanjeev Rajput of India takes part in the Men’s 50m Rifle at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Indian shooters accounted for 16 of their 66 medals, including seven golds, at last year’s Gold Coast Games where they finished third in the medals table.

Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) president Louise Martin and chief executive David Grevemberg met IOA officials in New Delhi last month and returned home convinced India would not take such a drastic step.

The IOA, after its annual general meeting, not only confirmed India’s Birmingham participation but also revealed plans to bid for the 2026 or the 2030 edition of the Games.

“The house together reviewed and decided on governance matters and other agendas, including the decision to participate in the #Birmingham2022 #CommonwealthGames,” the IOA tweeted.

“In the AGM, the house also decided on India’s bid to host the 2026/2030 #CommonwealthGames and reviewed the progress in India’s offer to host the 2023 IOC Session,” it said in another tweet.

India hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Martin welcomed the development, which would be a big relief for the CGF.

“The CGF and the entire Commonwealth Sport Movement are delighted India has confirmed their intent to participate at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games…” she said in a statement.

“Following a useful and constructive CGF visit to India in November, we felt confident and reassured that the athletes and sports community of India places huge value and importance on the Commonwealth Games. “Finally, we are delighted that India have expressed an ambition to host another Commonwealth Games in the future.”

Suleman says it was both scary and exciting to meet leading decision makers in the health sector in Geneva, Switzerland, after their proposal made the top ten in the Innovate-4-ARM competition.
UKZN students produce winning idea to help combat superbugs
30 December 2019, 3:12 PM

Two medical students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) have come up with a winning idea to help prevent microbes becoming resistant to antibiotics.

It is estimated that the so-called superbugs could claim the lives of 10 million people worldwide by 2050.

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Suleman’s proposed “pill-Alert” app is one of ten winning ideas chosen in a global competition to combat the build-up of resistance against antibiotics.

Studies estimate that 47% of people forget to take their antibiotics or stop the course when they start feeling better.

Suleman explains the consequences. “Under reduced selective drug pressure, these organisms now can alter their structure and become resistant to the medicine that we have today.”

Such antimicrobial resistance is seen as one of the greatest global health threats. It is estimated that by 2050, 10 million people could die from these so-called superbugs.

Suleman explains how the app works: “In terms of the app, for example, if you’re prescribed an antibiotic and you need to take two tablets twice daily and if you inform your doctor that your first dose will be at 8:am. So at exactly 8:am on your phone, you will receive a reminder via call or SMS to say that you have to take your antibiotic now and the instructions on how to take it. In that way you will improve patient compliance.”

UKZN students produce winning idea to help combat superbugs (Photo: @UKZNCHS)

Suleman emphasises that patients will not have to download the app. It will be hosted by the National Department of Health.

Doctors will enter the patient’s details and instructions for the prescription. This makes the system compatible with even the most basic cellular phones. Suleman says the World Health Organisation in Africa (WHO) is among the institutions showing an interest.

“We hope to work with the World Health Organisation, ReAct Africa, the South African national department of Health and the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology for the implementation of our app. Our app is actually best suited for resource-limited settings. Our main focus is obviously KZN.”

Narain is a fifth-year student while Suleman is a first-year medical student after completing his pharmacy degree. They met for the first time in March.

Suleman says since Narain is based in Pietermaritzburg for his studies, they Skyped over weekends as they worked on the concept.

“We would meet online, for example, Skype; video calls online. Every weekend we would have a call, you know, for an update on the work. For example, I do a piece and so I send it to my friend Kapil, and he would do a piece and send it to me. And from there we would work.”

Suleman says it was both scary and exciting to meet leading decision-makers in the health sector in Geneva, Switzerland, after their proposal made the top ten in the Innovate-4-ARM competition.



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