Saturday 11 August 2012

World News

1. MOMBASA, Kenya: Fears of Ebola outbreak as patient admitted in Kenya's coast

Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Fears gripped Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa on Friday after a truck driver was quarantined at the Agha Khan Hospital in the city.

The patient was admitted that the Aga Khan Hospital after he was suspected to be infected with the deadly Ebola virus, a few days after his arrival from Kampala,
Uganda.Health officials at the Aga Khan Hospital confirmed that the 61- year-old man was admitted at the hospital on Friday as soon as he arrived, and kept in isolation.The
Coast Provincial Director of Public Health and Sanitation Dr. Anisa Omar said the truck driver was admitted and found to be having symptoms of fatigue, sore throat and fever,
prompting doctors to seclude him from the rest of the patients at the hospital. "Yes, it's true the man was in Kampala from Aug. 3 and when he arrived at the facility, he was
found to be having those symptoms, " Omar said. He said the truck driver decided to seek medical attention at Agha Khan Hospital where he was isolated from the other
patients after being examined by the doctors. "He is a truck driver and he is likely to have contracted the virus while on his trip. But what I can tell Kenyans is that our doctors
are on high alert and that is why they were able to detect the symptoms. We are yet to confirm if indeed it is Ebola," said Anisa.

The driver only identified as Moses, was examined by doctors at the hospital who said he had symptoms resembling those of Ebola, but tests would be conducted to confirm
the same.Omar said that the patient's blood samples have been taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi and the results will be relayed as soon as they are back.
She at the same time allayed fears of the virus spreading to other parts of the region urging that the situation was under control.
The incident comes a week after Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo assured the country that the government was doing all it can to shield Kenyans from the
deadly virus.The development comes as a team of experts from the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are supporting the Ugandan government's
response to an Ebola outbreak in the western part of the country. The initial case was identified on July 28 in a family from the village of Nyanswiga, where 9 of the deaths
were recorded. The total number has since risen to more than 15.

The deceased include a clinical officer who attended to a patient, and her 4 month-old child. Nine of the 14 deaths have occurred in a single household, according to WHO.  
Both cases were admitted to hospital with fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Uganda has previously experienced outbreaks of Ebola fever, but the most recent
outbreak was declared over in early 2008. Last week, fears of an Ebola outbreak gripped the residents of Siaya and Eldoret Counties in Western and northwest Kenya
respectively had caused panic in the country after words went round that suspect cases had been detected.

Experts say there is an urgent need to increase public awareness on this deadly disease as well as to put in place as strong surveillance mechanism to allow for proper follow-
up of all the cases. The East African nation has been full alert following the outbreak of the deadly disease in neighboring Uganda last week. The government has since
established a taskforce to respond to the Ebola outbreak in neighboring Uganda.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, other bodily fluids or organs of infected persons or animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and
antelopes, and it has an incubation period of two to 21 days.  Sufferers can experience fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, as well as vomiting,
diarrhoea, rashes and impaired kidney and liver function. In the most severe cases, the virus leads to both external and internal bleeding.  (Xinhua)

2. LOS ANGELES, USA: Mars rover Curiosity to undergo "brain transplant"
Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars will undergo a "brain transplant" over the weekend with a software upgrade to prepare for new tasks ahead, NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, announced on Friday.

The upgrade will take place as part of a series of steps on Aug.10-13 to prepare the rover for its future tasks such as driving and using its strong robotic arm.A new version of
software would be installed in both of the rover's redundant main computers, according to JPL. JPL said the new software for Mars surface operations was uploaded to the
rover's memory during the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's flight from Earth last November. "We designed the mission from the start to be able to upgrade the software
as needed for different phases of the mission," said Ben Cichy, chief software engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at JPL "The flight software version Curiosity
currently is using was really focused on landing the vehicle. It includes many capabilities we just don't need any more. It gives us basic capabilities for operating the rover on
the surface, but we have planned all along to switch over after landing to a version of flight software that is really optimized for surface operations," Cichy explained.

Image processing to check for obstacles is the key for the new software, which allows for longer drives by giving the rover more autonomy to identify and avoid potential
hazards and drive along a safe path the rover identifies for itself, according to the JPL. Other new capabilities will facilitate the use of tools at the end of the rover's robotic
arm. While Curiosity is completing the software transition, the mission's science team is continuing to analyze images the rover has taken of its surroundings inside Gale
Crater, JPL said.

JPL scientists are discussing which features in the scene to investigate after a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and
characteristics of the landing site. Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and
Opportunity, according to JPL. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on

Curiosity will also use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these
samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments in an attempt to find out signs of life whether in the past or at present. The Gale Crater landing site places the rover
within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet
history, according to JPL. The software upgrade process is expected to last roughly four days, During this time, all other activities, including science, will temporarily be put on
hold, JPL said.The reason for this is to avoid any kind of interference, and to allow enough time for engineers to finish the transfer and verify that everything is functioning
according to plan. Once that is complete, engineers and scientists will continue checking Curiosity's instruments and gathering early science observations, according to JPL.

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