News on 5 August 2016

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1) Vietnam confirms third Zika case

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday (August 3) confirmed the third case testing positive for Zika in Vietnam. A male patient, 27, from Son Ha District in the south-central province of Phu Yen, was hospitalized on June 27 with skin rashes, a high fever, muscle and joint pain, and a headache, doctors said, adding that they then diagnosed him with dengue fever. The patient was discharged on June 30 with that diagnosis. But in late July, the Pasteur Institute in the south-central city of Nha Trang, said that the 27-year-old had contracted Zika, making him the third confirmed case of the infection in Vietnam after the two others in the beach city and Ho Chi Minh City in late March. The patient in Nha Trang was a 64-year-old woman while that in Ho Chi Minh City was 33 years old and pregnant at the time. Both showed typical symptoms of the disease, and three tests confirmed they were Zika-positive, according to health officials. There have been no new cases of Zika infection since the time the 27-year-old man left the hospital, Phu Yen’s health department said on Wednesday (August 3). According to the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, the Zika virus type in Vietnam is less infectious and less likely to cause microcephaly than its counterpart in the Americas.

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2) U.S. health researchers test Zika vaccine as funds run low

U.S. government researchers said on Wednesday (August 3) they have begun their first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine while the Obama administration told lawmakers funds to fight the virus would run out in the coming weeks due to congressional inaction. U.S. concerns over Zika, which is spreading rapidly in the Americas and has hit Brazil the hardest, have risen since Florida authorities last week reported the first signs of local transmission in the continental United States in a Miami neighborhood. There is no approved vaccine or drug for Zika, a virus spreading rapidly in the Americas that can cause the birth defect microcephaly, marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. A number of companies and academic groups are racing to develop a Zika vaccine, which is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least two to three years. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health federal research agency, said its early-stage clinical trial will involve at least 80 healthy volunteers ages 18 to 35 at three study sites. It said the trial will evaluate the experimental DNA-based vaccine's safety and ability to elicit an immune system response. "A safe and effective vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection and the devastating birth defects it causes is a public health imperative," NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement. U.S. vaccine maker Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO.O) in June won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to begin testing its Zika vaccine in humans. It began its clinical trial last month, aiming to enroll 40 healthy adult volunteers in Miami, Philadelphia and Quebec City.

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3) HEMA to inspect medical waste dump

The Health Environment Management Agency (HEMA) has called for an investigation into claims that 10 tonnes of medical waste have been dumped in Yen Phong District’s Van Mon Commune. HEMA, working under the Ministry of Health, made the request to the northern province of Bac Ninh’s health department following reports that the provincial environment police had on Tuesday (August 2) conducted an inspection and discovered Bảo Ngọc Limited Company gathering the unclassified medical waste in the commune without a permit. HEMA asked the provincial health department to clarify the situation and submit a report on it to the agency today (August 5). If any violations of regulations on environmental protection in the field of medical waste management are found, strict penalties will be imposed. The company officials failed to present to inspectors any documentation permitting them to treat either normal waste or hazardous waste. They said all the waste had been collected from health care facilities in the province and other provinces to recycle and sell it to other enterprises. Local residents said medical waste started being dumped in Văn Môn Commune several years ago, the online newspaper vietnamnet.vn reported. A truck transported some 3.5 tonnes of medical waste to the dump site every two days, they said. They complained to local authorities many times based on their concerns over water pollution and its effect on their health, but nothing was done to address the problem.

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4) Martin Garrix to perform in Hanoi this September

Superstar DJ Martin Garrix will hit the stage in Hanoi this September for the country’s biggest EDM event of the year. The Dutch artist will perform at Ecopark urban area on Hanoi outskirts from 4 p.m. until late on September 18, sharing the spotlight with four international DJs and several Vietnamese artists, organizers of the event confirmed at a press conference. He will certainly bring his biggest hits including the debut song “Animals,” which entered many top 10 lists in 2013 and put him in the world’s top 100 DJs at the age of 17. The organizers said 10,000 tickets are available on Tikkit.vn, starting from VND550,000 (US$25). Vietnam's EDM scene has been vibrant recently, with various shows by superstars DJs Skrillex, Tiesto and Zedd last year.

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5) U.S. jobless claims rise marginally, factory orders declined

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, while renewed job cuts in the energy sector boosted layoffs announced by U.S.-based employers in July. Despite the increases, the labor market remains healthy and will probably continue to support economic growth for the rest of this year. While other data on Thursday (Augusts 4) showed orders for factory goods fell for a second straight month in June, largely on weak demand for transportation equipment, there were signs spending cuts in the energy sector were easing. "The data do indicate the economy and the labor market are improving. It appears that the collapse in the energy sector is ending. For two months now, new orders for mining and oil and gas field equipment were up," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 269,000 for the week ended July 30, the Labor Department said. Economists had forecast initial claims slipping to 265,000 in the latest week. Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong labor market, for 74 consecutive weeks, the longest streak since 1973. With the labor market perceived to be either at or approaching full employment, there is probably limited scope for further declines in claims.

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(All the above News Items have been sourced from: Reuters, ThanhNien News, Vietnam Net, Tuoitre News, Vietnam News, New York Times, BBC)

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