CBRNe World News Briefs
On September 15th, Iraqi health officials reported the death of an individual in Mosul after being infected with Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. A subsequent number of people were quarantined after their contact with the deceased since the latter was a butcher in a local market of Mosul. New penalties have been issued to butchers slaughtering livestock outside the designated safety areas in order to prevent future related incidents. On September 18th, authorities of Lebanon seized 20 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the same chemical element that caused the huge explosion in the port last year, in the East side of the country. The above element is an odorless crystalline substance used also as a fertilizer being in the meantime responsible of numerous industrial accidents in the past. The authorities transported the above tonnes in a safe place, and they are still conducting sweeps of the area of Bekaa Valley for safety reasons. On September 20th, according to the France’s foreign minister and Reuters, the Ministers of the latter along with Britain, China, Germany and Russia will meet their Iranian counterpart in order to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. The British Foreign Secretary will also meet the Iranian representative at the UN General Assembly for the same reason in an effort to find some common ground and halt a potential nuclear proliferation in the area.
On September 5th, reports regarding the cholera outbreak were published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control as far as the current situation in the country is concerned. In the first 8 months of this year, almost 70.000 cases have been identified with 3 Nigerian states accounting for more than 50% of the total cases. Children between 5-14 years old are the most affected ones and cholera remains categorized as a global threat according to WHO. On September 16th, the health officials of Guinea declared the end of the most recent Marburg Virus outbreak after no cases were reported over more than 42 hours. The officials responsible for the control of the outbreak had isolated the index patient and more than 170 potential contacts for 21 days. Other sporadic cases and outbreaks have also been reported in Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. On September 21st, according to a Reuters report, separatists rebels killed 15 soldiers in Cameroon along with numerous civilians in two orchestrated bomb attacks conducted this month. The first attack occurred in September 12, when a military convoy was hit by an IED; on September 16, another convoy was hit inside a village area, using more sophisticated weaponry according to the defense ministry of the country. In the meantime, health facilities face serious issues and lacking of drugs as the fighting still continues.
On September 8th, an explosion took place in Toronto, Canada at a chemical plant killing an individual and injuring another, being rushed to the hospital in a critical position. Other people also suffered chemical burns and the cause of the blast at the moment is unknown. A federal inspector has commenced an investigation as well along with the local Marshall’s office.
According to a report from the Department of Health of Alaska, on September 9th, “a species of Orthopoxvirus named Alaskapox virus was identified in two women residing in the Fairbanks area.” Urgent care clinic was necessary for the two people infected. The above virus is classified as a double-stranded DNA one that occur in mammals, are zoonotic and occasionally they can infect humans.
On September 12th, a hazardous material incident took place in North Carolina, US, at a plant owned by a company recycling animal processing waste. Two workers were declared dead as they were exposed to hydrogen sulphide. The most probable cause of the accident was because of the lack of safety procedures but respective agencies are trying to determine the cause.
On September 14th, two workers employed from a truck washing company were found dead in west Phoenix, Arizona. The cause of it seemed to be an exposure to an unknown chemical while they were cleaning the inside side of a tanker. According to the local police report, the two individuals fall unconscious after entering the area and pronounced dead shortly after.
On September 6th, an IAEA team led by the Deputy Director General, met with officials in Japan, in order to launch officially the water release safety review at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station. The two parties agreed on the three main sectors of the review, namely the safety aspects, regulatory activities and the environmental monitoring. The IAEA team also visited the plant in-person in order to have an updated view and understanding of the situation.
On September 7th, a report provided by two researchers from the Federation of American Scientists examined Pakistan’s current nuclear arsenal. This may currently include around 165 warheads and their report estimates a potential rise up to 200 by 2025. The report took also into account satellite images showing army garrisons near bases where appear to be nuclear related launchers and facilities.
On September 18th, 8 people were injured after an IED went off at a central town plaza in Maguindanao, Philippines during a volleyball tournament. According to the officials, members of the tournament had received threats prior to the event but they ignored the threats which were not reported to local government officials. Police is still investigating who is behind the attack but the evidence point towards the IS-inspired Dawlah Islamiyah which is actively engaged in the region.
On September 7th, the first report was published regarding the causes of a chemical explosion in Leverkusen, Germany when seven were killed. The explosion took place at a chemical waste incineration plant back in July, and the newest interim report brought up the causes of the incident. Hence, the storage of the liquid about a certain threshold caused a self-explosion and self-heating effects.
On September 17th, two simultaneous outbreaks of anthrax in Ciudad Real and Badajoz, Spain, were reported to have taken place. The first break affected 26 cows, who eventually died, and in the seconded registered outbreak more than 10 horses have also died. An epidemiological alert has been issued by the Ministry of Health after the appearance of cases in several humans as well.
On September 21st, a third Russian national faced charges in the UK as a responsible for the 2018 Salisbury Novichok poisonings when 3 people were left in a critical condition and one dead. According to the relevant security forces, the Russian Denis Sergeev was the ground commander during the attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, being a member of the Russian military intelligence service. The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected that the country is involved.
On September 13th, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued new restrictions concerning the prescription of ivermectin in order to treat Covid-19. Significant public health risks have been identified as individuals believe that using ivermectin can protect them from Covid and thus, there is no need to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms or get tested. Additionally, there is a huge risk of taking higher doses than necessary leading to severe adverse effects including seizures and coma.
As reported by NZ Herald, September 20th, the government of New Zealand decided to end its five-week alert 4 level lockdown in Auckland and reduce restrictions in the country. This decision has been described as a “calculation risk” one since there is a huge possibility of a new strict lockdown in the weeks ahead. The new level 3 restrictions in Auckland, however, does not mean “opening up” as declared by officials and measures will take place even in other parts of the country that are categorized as level 2 at the moment.