News in Brief 5 March 2021

News in Brief 5 March 2021

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

1,600 vaccinated in Guinea Ebola virus outbreak but more jabs needed: WHO 

More than 1,600 people have received Ebola virus vaccinations in Guinea where four have died in a new outbreak, but more lifesaving jabs are needed to contain it, the UN health agency has said. 

To date, 18 Ebola cases have been reported in the West African nation (14 confirmed and four deaths). 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) only 30,000 Ebola vaccines are available, out of a global stock of half a million.  

A ring vaccination strategy has been employed to inhibit the spread of disease by vaccinating only those most likely to be infected.  

But there are concerns that if Ebola spreads outside Guinea – which shares a border with six other countries – there are only “limited” stocks of vaccines to respond. 

Here’s Dr Ibrahima Fall, Assistant Director-General of WHO’s emergency response unit: 

“We are vaccinating the contacts of cases, the contact of contacts, and their contacts. So with this strategy …we are able to control this type of outbreak. But in the future, we need more vaccines.”  

Guinea’s last Ebola outbreak started in 2014 and quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone.  

It was the deadliest Ebola outbreak since the virus was first detected in 1976, with 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths.   

COVID-19 cases surge in West Bank in February but fall in Gaza  

Cases of COVID-19 more than doubled in the West Bank last month – likely a result of new, more contagious variants of the disease, the UN said on Friday, although infections fell in the Gaza Strip. 

According to an update from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 29,400 additional people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory tested positive for new coronavirus in February; the total number of cases is more than 208,000, and nearly 190,000 people have recovered. 

Since the pandemic began, the disease has claimed more than 1,700 lives in the West Bank - including East Jerusalem - and 550 in the Gaza Strip. 

The proportion of deaths among confirmed cases remains at 1.1 per cent in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which is above Israel at 0.7 per cent, but below Jordan at 1.2 per cent and Egypt at 5.9. 

The development follows the initial vaccination of thousands of key workers in the West Bank and Gaza, following the donation of Moderna and Sputnik V shots – although a broader rollout of the inoculation campaign had to be halted because of delays in anticipated deliveries.  

The first vaccines delivered through the UN-partnered equitable scheme known as COVAX, are expected to arrive in March. 

Iran: condemnation for killing of Baloch minority protesters 

To Iran finally, where the UN human rights office has spoken out against the use of violence by security forces against unarmed protesters and fuel couriers from the Baluch minority working on the border with Pakistan. 

In an alert, on Friday, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that at least 12 people had reportedly been killed - two of them children. 

Unrest began on 22 February, when Iranian Revolutionary Guards allegedly shot and killed at least 10 fuel couriers in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on the border with Pakistan, said OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville. 

He added that this followed a two-day stand-off that was triggered by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who had blocked the road to the city of Saravan. 

The killings reportedly triggered demonstrations in several cities across the province, where lethal ammunition was fired at protesters and bystanders, killing at least two more people and injuring several dozen others.  

Last year, Mr. Colville noted that 59 Kurdish couriers were reported to have been killed by border officials in provinces in the north-west of Iran. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News.  

  • 1,600 vaccinated in Guinea Ebola virus outbreak but more jabs needed: WHO 

  • COVID-19 cases surge in West Bank in February but fall in Gaza  

  • Iran: condemnation for killing of Baloch minority protesters 

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Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
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