EUROPE

Navy divers on October 12th began a five-day operation to defuse the largest unexploded World War Two bomb ever found in Poland, forcing more than 750 people to evacuate their homes. Dubbed the “earthquake” bomb, the Tallboy bomb was used by Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) and weighs nearly 5,400 kg, including 2,400 kg of explosive. The bomb was found in the Piast Canal which connects the Baltic Sea with the Oder River, and was dropped by the RAF in 1945 in an attack on the German cruiser Lutzow. On October 15th, the Queen officially opened the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)’s new Energetics Analysis Centre. The center is a state-of-the-art building from which hundreds of scientists conduct world-class research and analysis to give the UK military and security advantage, protecting against terrorist and criminal threats. A highlight of the visit was a simulation of a forensic explosives investigation by scientists from the Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL), which is one of several world-leading capabilities of the Energetics Analysis Centre. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) thwarted a terrorist bomb attack in Moscow on October 22nd and detained a man preparing to detonate a bomb at a government building. The FSB described the man as a native of Central Asia and said he was working under instructions from an international terrorist group. Investigations are being carried out. On October 22nd, France reported 41,622 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily record. This cases-rise led French Prime Minister to extend the curfew from 9pm to 6am initially implemented on October 16th in Paris as well as eight other metropolitan areas (Aix-Marseille, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Toulouse, Lille, Montpellier, Rouen and Grenoble) to 38 more administrative departments. In its latest risk assessment published on October 23, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) urged European governments to take immediate targeted public health action to stop healthcare systems being overwhelmed by increasing COVID-19 infections. The paper stated that from 1 March to 18 October 2020, EU/EEA countries and the UK have reported 4 825 350 cases and 202 551 deaths due to COVID- 19 (representing 12% of all cases and 18% of all deaths reported worldwide during this period). The ECDC categorized 23 countries out of the 29th countries mentioned as of “serious concern” (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).

THE AMERICAS

On October 22, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) for use in adult and pediatric patients (12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kilograms) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. The product has shown to reduce the recovery time of hospitalized patients by five days during clinical trials. On October 19th, Argentina has become the fifth country with more than 1 million coronavirus cases, making it the smallest nation by far to reach the grim milestone after infections accelerated in recent weeks. Argentina is also grappling with low levels of testing. But for those getting tested, more than 60% of recent tests are coming back positive, one of the world’s highest positivity rates. The Peruvian government declared on October 22nd that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations. Rate of infections and deaths from COVID-19 in the country has been slowing since September.

ASIA

Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2020 took place in Brunei for its 26th edition and put emphasis on social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures. Moreover, on October 6th, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from Task Force 75 and troop commanders from the Royal Brunei Land Force participated in a real-time, virtual EOD subject matter expert exchange (SMEE). Two children were injured after a crude bomb they mistook for a toy exploded at Ghop Mahmudur Rahman School ground in Jessore town, Bangladesh on October 6th. Five persons were wounded in an ambush attack with two roadside bombs by alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on October 8th in Pinabacdao, Samar, Philippines. Five people were wounded when a bomb exploded at the entrance of a bus terminal in Karachi, Pakistan on October 20th, said police officials and hospital sources. Police investigators said that an improvised explosive device (IED) was planted at the gate of the terminal. SSP South Sheeraz Nazeer said that the bomb weighed one kilogram and contained ball bearings. Five civilians were killed, and nine others wounded after two improvised bombs tore apart two vehicles in eastern Wardak province, Afghanistan on October 20. The blasts took place after the vehicles touched off pressure-plate IEDs planted by Taliban militants recently along the main road,” spokesman for the provincial government of Maidan Wardak, Muhibullah Sharifzai said. As Malaysia struggles to contain the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin allegedly asked the King to declare a state of emergency on October 23. Although the scope of the emergency measures remains unclear, some sources disclosed it would include the suspension of parliament, which was scheduled to reconvene in November. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) declared on October 23 that it would press on with a wide flu vaccination program, despite a death toll of 36 among people who have been vaccinated. The vaccination program is aiming at heading off complications from the coronavirus and warding off a “twindemic” of concurrent major flue and COVID-19 outbreak in winter. The KDCA declared that there was no proof of a direct link between the vaccination and deaths that were investigated.

MIDDLE EAST

An improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a civilian vehicle in Manbij, Syria on October 20, injuring four people and killing one according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). According to a SOHR report, the explosion was caused by an IED that had been placed under a car owned by a doctor near the city’s central pharmacy. According to a declaration from Pehr Lodhammar, a senior program manager at the U.N. Mine Action Service (UNMAS) on October 14th, Mosul, Iraq will remain strewn with unexploded bombs for a decade, endangering a million or more civilians who want to return home following the end of three years of Daesh occupation.

AFRICA

A UN peacekeeper was killed in northern Mali and another seriously wounded after their vehicle hit a roadside bomb on October 15th, the UN mission said. The attack came as civil servants in the capital, Bamako, protested against the “selective release” of foreign hostages in hostage swap deals by the government. A landmine blast killed at least 2 people and injured several others on Ocober 20 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The explosion targeted Director-General of Immigration and Naturalization Directorate Mohamed Aden Koofi in the capital, who escaped unscathed. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO Lao) has cleared more than 700 hectares of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in northern Laos' Xieng Khuang province. This achievement has been reported by a field visit of officials from the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos in the province on October 20th.

OCEANIA

The Australian city of Melbourne will exit lockdown from Wednesday after recording no new COVID-19 cases for the first time since June. Victoria state was the epicentre of Australia's second wave. The state capital, Melbourne, went into lockdown 111 days ago, enforcing home confinement, travel restrictions and and closing stores and restaurants. However on Monday 26, authorities said the city was ready to re-open. New Zealand's Health Ministry announced on October 26 that five more infections were reported over the last 24 hours. This declaration comes one day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted the steps New Zealand took to eliminate COVID-19 within its community, posting a four-minute video posted on social media on how the country went from its first case of coronavirus, to successfully eliminating the virus within a matter of months.