Ebola outbreak on a 'knife edge,' WHO unsure it can stop spread to urban areas
Newsletter: A closer look at the day's most notable stories
Welcome to The National Today newsletter, which takes a closer look at what's happening around some of the day's most notable stories. Sign up here and it will be delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.
- Health workers are struggling to contain the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo as some patients turn to spiritual leaders rather than doctors
- Why Democrats counting on a "Blue Wave" of voter support heading into the U.S. midterm elections would be wise not to simply run an anti-Trump campaign
- Russia's 2018 World Cup soccer team has been cleared of doping allegations
- Missed The National last night? Watch it here
Fighting bats, superstition and Ebola
The World Health Organization is warning that West Africa is on the cusp of another Ebola epidemic as the disease continues to expand in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"We are on the epidemiological knife edge," Dr. Peter Salama, the organization's emergency response chief, said at a special meeting of WHO member states in Geneva today.
"The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we are going to be able to keep it under control."
"This is a hospital. It's not a prison. We can't lock everything," Yokouide Allarangar, the WHO's representative in Congo, told the Reuters news agency.
The two patients who died had left the hospital on the weekend to attend a "place of prayer."
Agence France Presse yesterday reported that one of the first Ebola deaths in Mbandaka was the pastor of an evangelical church who had been ministering to another victim, trying to cure him of his illness via prayer.
In response, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDCP) is sending anthropologists into the field along with its 25 epidemiologists to try and support the vaccination efforts.
"If we do not handle communication well, the vaccination program may suffer," John Nkengasong, the organization's head, explained yesterday.
There have been 58 confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in the DRC since an outbreak was declared on May 8, from which 27 people have died. Two of the victims were nurses.
The vaccination program began on Monday, and the initial goal is to have 100 people — 70 of them frontline health workers — inoculated by the end of the week. More than 7,500 doses are already in the Congo, and 8,000 more will soon arrive.
But the WHO remains concerned that the disease will spread — not only within the DRC, but to nine neighbouring nations. The borders with the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo are near the epicentre of the outbreak, and area residents travel freely across the frontiers to trade, shop and visit.
"There is constant movement of people through the porous borders," Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional chief for Africa, said today.
Their zoonotic model, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, traces the migratory patterns of bats using satellite data and factors in the environment, like weather and the availability of food and shelter, to predict where and when the outbreak might spread.
When they applied their model to the 2014 outbreak which killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, they found a connection between its spread and bat migrations, with the peak in Ebola infections coinciding with the bat birthing season.
The hope is that the tool might soon help health authorities focus on specific locations and times of the year when the danger of an Ebola outbreak is the greatest.
Riding America's Blue Wave
CBC's Keith Boag looks at why Democrats counting on a "Blue Wave" of voter support heading into the U.S. midterm elections would be wise not to simply run an anti-Trump campaign:
It can be a struggle to report on things that exist only as concepts or impressions. That was our challenge in trying to illustrate the energy and passion behind the metaphorical U.S. "Blue Wave" that has produced a string of Democratic victories in special elections.
It's come vividly to life in marches across the country, but where to find it otherwise?
That's what led us to a live edition of Pod Save America in Dallas, Texas.
It wouldn't exist without opposition to Trump, so to be at a Pod Save America show is, in a way, to be inside the Blue Wave that seems to be rolling toward the midterm elections in November.
The counterintuitive corollary for Democrats, though, is that while Trump is the force that's bringing them together, running explicitly against him in the coming midterms is probably not an effective tactic.
To unpack that idea we looked back at the peculiar race for a Senate seat in Alabama last December. The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats won this seat because the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, was accused of child molesting just a few weeks before the vote, and therefore it was sui generis and had no broader political lesson to offer.
For one thing, most Republicans didn't believe the allegations made against Moore, and some might even have been more inclined to come to his defence at the ballot box as a result.
The truth about the Alabama race is that it showed Democrats why running against Trump might be risky in an era of highly tribal politics, as well as what an alternative strategy could be. That's the focus of our online feature today.
- Enjoying this newsletter? Sign up and have it delivered by email. You may also like our early-morning newsletter, the Morning Brief — start the day with the news you need in one quick and concise read. Sign up here.
Just say 'nyet'
Russia's 2018 World Cup soccer team has been cleared of doping allegations after an investigation found "insufficient evidence" of organized cheating.
In a statement released yesterday — just three weeks before the tournament's June 14 kickoff in Moscow — the sport's organizing body, FIFA, said that it has completed all of its probes into the 28 players and seven reserves named to the host country's provisional squad, and is unable to "assert an anti-doping rule violation."
Whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, had told International Olympic Committee investigators that he oversaw the destruction of around 8,000 "dirty" doping samples in December 2014 in order to "evade" WADA controls.
He said in a recent interview with the Associated Press that Vitaly Mutko, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and head of the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, had specifically instructed him to make the country's soccer players "immune from doping controls and sanctions."
FIFA says that it consulted with both McLaren and Rodchenkov in its investigation, and reanalyzed the remaining samples from the Moscow laboratory — as well as examining a database of all Russian tests between January 2012 and August 2015 — but could find no evidence of prohibited substances or tampering.
It also stepped up its unannounced testing of Russian players, again failing to find any violation.
The soccer body says that WADA agrees with its decision to close the doping investigations.
The clean bill for Russia came on the same day that the captains of three Group C World Cup teams, France, Australia and Denmark, released an open letter to FIFA urging that their Peruvian counterpart Paolo Guerrero be forgiven for a failed test and allowed to compete in the tournament.
Guerrero was handed a 12-month ban last December after a positive result for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. He says it was a result of having consumed a cup of tea infused with coca leaves, for which the Court of Arbitration for Sport concluded the 34-year-old must bear "some fault or negligence."
The as-yet-untitled song will be the first new music from the 49-year-old movie star in more than a decade.
It's not clear if the Fresh Prince of Bel Air ever aired in Russia, but here's a Polish version of its theme.
Quote of the moment
"The notion that I'm just out of there seems really unreasonable."
- Michael Rotondo speaks to reporters yesterday following an eviction hearing in Syracuse, N.Y. The 30-year-old's parents were seeking an order to force him to leave their split-level ranch home after he failed to heed five written notices — and several offers of financial assistance — asking him to find his own place.
What The National is reading
- Syria scoffs at U.S. demand to send Iranian forces home (CBC)
- Germ-free childhood could trigger leukemia, scientist suggests (CNN)
- Oil hits four-year high; OPEC threatens to increase supply (CBC)
- At least nine dead in India as police fire on copper smelter protesters (Reuters)
- McDonald's sues B.C. government over Happy Meal toy tax (CBC)
- Rwanda becomes an Arsenal sponsor (Africanews)
- Hold it: Manitoba mulls roadside rest stop closures (CTV)
- 8 years ago somebody bought 2 pizzas with bitcoins now worth $82 million (Quartz)
Today in history
May 23, 1969: High-rise bicycles get kids riding in 1969
Parents just don't understand, man. These kooky kids and their "high-rise" bicycles with the banana seats, knobby tires and "sissy" bars on the back. CCM gets it, however, churning out multiple models in their suburban Toronto factory and capitalizing on the craze with retail prices of up to $90. How do you feel when you ride one? "Sort of, like, dangerous," says one owner. Which is good, because you looked ridiculous.
Sign up here and have The National Today newsletter delivered directly to your inbox Monday to Friday.
Please send your ideas, news tips, rants, and compliments to email@example.com.