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  •   In an accelerated effort to scale up the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda the World Health Organization WHO is delivering medical supplies providing logistics and deploying personnel to help national authorities stop the spread of the virus So far seven cases including one death have been confirmed to have contracted Sudan Ebolavirus one of six species of the Ebolavirus genus 43 contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected of having contracted the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende the district where the disease was confirmed this week making it the first time that Uganda has detected Ebola from Sudan since 2012 Mubende is located in the central region of Uganda and is about a two hour drive from the capital Kampala and is along a busy highway that leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo There are gold mines in the area which attract people from different parts of Uganda as well as other countries The mobile nature of the Mubende population increases the risk of possible spread of the virus WHO has deployed a technical team to Mubende district to support surveillance infection prevention and control and case management The Organization is also assisting in the activation of monitoring structures in neighboring districts and is redeploying its staff in the country to reinforce the response In addition five international experts will be deployed with the number increasing if necessary We are acting quickly and decisively to take control of this outbreak Our experts are already working on the ground with Uganda s experienced Ebola control teams to strengthen surveillance diagnosis treatment and preventive measures said Dr Abdou Salam Gueye Regional Director of Emergencies at the Regional Office of the WHO for Africa Africa s increased local emergency preparedness is proving increasingly crucial to tackling outbreaks like Ebola Due to previous outbreaks from Uganda and the threat of importation of cases from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo which has battled several outbreaks WHO and the Ministry of Health have collaborated on many preparedness activities the latest such exercise was in August 2022 where nine Ugandan doctors received training on how to manage viral haemorrhagic fevers and are now working on the response The WHO already has six viral haemorrhagic fever kits in Uganda and one has been delivered to Mubende Although there are no therapies that specifically treat the Sudan ebolavirus species early identification of cases and treatment of symptoms greatly increases the chances of survival Current evidence shows that the ERVEBO vaccine which is highly effective against Zaire ebolavirus does not provide cross protection against Sudan ebolavirus There are at least six Sudanese ebolavirus vaccine candidates that are in different stages of development Three of them have Phase 1 data safety and immunogenicity data in humans and the rest are in the preclinical evaluation phase The WHO Research and Development Plan team is in contact with all developers and is leading a collaborative effort involving international experts to determine which vaccines may be suitable for further evaluation during this outbreak and whether doses with required standards are available in case more cases are confirmed There is a BASIC protocol for its evaluation and WHO will discuss the proposed next steps with the Ugandan authorities to seek their approval WHO today held a press conference led by Dr Patrick Otim Health Emergencies Officer Acute Event Management Unit WHO Regional Office for Africa He was joined by Dr Kyobe Henry Bbosa Ebola Incident Commander Uganda Ministry of Health Dr Ana Maria Henao Restrepo co director of the research and development plan for epidemics WHO Health Emergencies Program and William A Fischer II MD Director of Emerging Pathogens at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina
    The World Health Organization (WHO) strengthens the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda
      In an accelerated effort to scale up the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda the World Health Organization WHO is delivering medical supplies providing logistics and deploying personnel to help national authorities stop the spread of the virus So far seven cases including one death have been confirmed to have contracted Sudan Ebolavirus one of six species of the Ebolavirus genus 43 contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected of having contracted the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende the district where the disease was confirmed this week making it the first time that Uganda has detected Ebola from Sudan since 2012 Mubende is located in the central region of Uganda and is about a two hour drive from the capital Kampala and is along a busy highway that leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo There are gold mines in the area which attract people from different parts of Uganda as well as other countries The mobile nature of the Mubende population increases the risk of possible spread of the virus WHO has deployed a technical team to Mubende district to support surveillance infection prevention and control and case management The Organization is also assisting in the activation of monitoring structures in neighboring districts and is redeploying its staff in the country to reinforce the response In addition five international experts will be deployed with the number increasing if necessary We are acting quickly and decisively to take control of this outbreak Our experts are already working on the ground with Uganda s experienced Ebola control teams to strengthen surveillance diagnosis treatment and preventive measures said Dr Abdou Salam Gueye Regional Director of Emergencies at the Regional Office of the WHO for Africa Africa s increased local emergency preparedness is proving increasingly crucial to tackling outbreaks like Ebola Due to previous outbreaks from Uganda and the threat of importation of cases from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo which has battled several outbreaks WHO and the Ministry of Health have collaborated on many preparedness activities the latest such exercise was in August 2022 where nine Ugandan doctors received training on how to manage viral haemorrhagic fevers and are now working on the response The WHO already has six viral haemorrhagic fever kits in Uganda and one has been delivered to Mubende Although there are no therapies that specifically treat the Sudan ebolavirus species early identification of cases and treatment of symptoms greatly increases the chances of survival Current evidence shows that the ERVEBO vaccine which is highly effective against Zaire ebolavirus does not provide cross protection against Sudan ebolavirus There are at least six Sudanese ebolavirus vaccine candidates that are in different stages of development Three of them have Phase 1 data safety and immunogenicity data in humans and the rest are in the preclinical evaluation phase The WHO Research and Development Plan team is in contact with all developers and is leading a collaborative effort involving international experts to determine which vaccines may be suitable for further evaluation during this outbreak and whether doses with required standards are available in case more cases are confirmed There is a BASIC protocol for its evaluation and WHO will discuss the proposed next steps with the Ugandan authorities to seek their approval WHO today held a press conference led by Dr Patrick Otim Health Emergencies Officer Acute Event Management Unit WHO Regional Office for Africa He was joined by Dr Kyobe Henry Bbosa Ebola Incident Commander Uganda Ministry of Health Dr Ana Maria Henao Restrepo co director of the research and development plan for epidemics WHO Health Emergencies Program and William A Fischer II MD Director of Emerging Pathogens at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina
    The World Health Organization (WHO) strengthens the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda
    Africa2 weeks ago

    The World Health Organization (WHO) strengthens the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda

    In an accelerated effort to scale up the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, the World Health Organization (WHO) is delivering medical supplies, providing logistics and deploying personnel to help national authorities stop the spread of the virus.

    So far, seven cases, including one death, have been confirmed to have contracted Sudan Ebolavirus, one of six species of the Ebolavirus genus.

    43 contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected of having contracted the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende, the district where the disease was confirmed this week, making it the first time that Uganda has detected Ebola from Sudan.

    since 2012.

    Mubende is located in the central region of Uganda and is about a two-hour drive from the capital, Kampala, and is along a busy highway that leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    There are gold mines in the area, which attract people from different parts of Uganda, as well as other countries.

    The mobile nature of the Mubende population increases the risk of possible spread of the virus.

    WHO has deployed a technical team to Mubende district to support surveillance, infection prevention and control, and case management.

    The Organization is also assisting in the activation of monitoring structures in neighboring districts and is redeploying its staff in the country to reinforce the response.

    In addition, five international experts will be deployed, with the number increasing if necessary.

    “We are acting quickly and decisively to take control of this outbreak.

    Our experts are already working on the ground with Uganda's experienced Ebola control teams to strengthen surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and preventive measures," said Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, Regional Director of Emergencies at the Regional Office.

    of the WHO for Africa.

    "Africa's increased local emergency preparedness is proving increasingly crucial to tackling outbreaks like Ebola."

    Due to previous outbreaks from Uganda and the threat of importation of cases from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo which has battled several outbreaks, WHO and the Ministry of Health have collaborated on many preparedness activities, the latest such exercise was in August 2022, where nine Ugandan doctors received training on how to manage viral haemorrhagic fevers and are now working on the response.

    The WHO already has six viral haemorrhagic fever kits in Uganda, and one has been delivered to Mubende.

    Although there are no therapies that specifically treat the Sudan ebolavirus species, early identification of cases and treatment of symptoms greatly increases the chances of survival.

    Current evidence shows that the ERVEBO vaccine, which is highly effective against Zaire ebolavirus, does not provide cross-protection against Sudan ebolavirus.

    There are at least six Sudanese ebolavirus vaccine candidates that are in different stages of development.

    Three of them have Phase 1 data (safety and immunogenicity data in humans) and the rest are in the preclinical evaluation phase.

    The WHO Research and Development Plan team is in contact with all developers and is leading a collaborative effort involving international experts to determine which vaccines may be suitable for further evaluation during this outbreak (and whether doses with required standards are available) in case more cases are confirmed.

    There is a BASIC protocol for its evaluation and WHO will discuss the proposed next steps with the Ugandan authorities to seek their approval.

    WHO today held a press conference led by Dr. Patrick Otim, Health Emergencies Officer, Acute Event Management Unit, WHO Regional Office for Africa.

    He was joined by Dr. Kyobe Henry Bbosa, Ebola Incident Commander, Uganda Ministry of Health; Dr. Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, co-director of the research and development plan for epidemics, WHO Health Emergencies Program; and William A.

    Fischer II, MD, Director of Emerging Pathogens at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina.

  •  The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday rejected Seoul s offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearisation steps calling it the height of absurdity and a deal Pyongyang would never accept The statement follows South Korean President Yoon Suk yeol this week putting forward an audacious aid plan that would include food energy and infrastructure help in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programme Analysts previously said the chances of Pyongyang accepting such a deal first floated during Yoon s inaugural speech were vanishingly slim as the North which invests an enormous chunk of its GDP into weapons programmes has long made it clear it will not make that trade Kim Jong Un s sister Yo Jong on Friday called Yoon s offer the height of absurdity claiming it was as realistic as creating mulberry fields in the dark blue ocean To think that the plan to barter economic cooperation for our honour our nukes is a great dream hope and plan of Yoon we came to realize that he is really simple and still childish she said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency She added that there would never be negotiations between the countries that used denuclearisation as a starting point No one barters its destiny for corn cake she said She also accused the South of recycling proposals the North had previously rejected while comparing Yoon to a barking dog saying it would have been better for his image to shut his mouth South Korea s presidential office expressed strong regret over Yo Jong s rude remarks but added that the offer of economic aid remained in place North Korea s attitude is in no way helpful to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula as well as its own future and only promotes isolation from the international community it said in a statement The personal nature of Yo Jong s attack against Yoon showed that relations would likely be severely difficult over the hawkish new president s five year term Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told AFP Yoon has said that North Korea s denuclearisation is the very basis for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula Yang said Today by ridiculing Yoon Kim Yo Jong basically told him once again that the North cannot disagree more Ready to mobilise Pyongyang last week warned it would wipe out Seoul authorities over a recent Covid 19 outbreak a threat that came less than a month after Kim Jong Un said his country was ready to mobilise its nuclear capability in any war with the United States and the South Yoon on Wednesday said his administration had no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent even as Pyongyang test fired two cruise missiles the same day Cheong Seong chang director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute said Yo Jong s Friday statement clearly reaffirms Pyongyang will never give up its nukes Accordingly the Yoon administration s policies on North Korean denuclearisation will inevitably need a fundamental revision he told AFP The weight of North Korean nuclear threats that South Korea has to live with has already exceeded the level it can bear he said North Korea has conducted a record breaking blitz of weapons tests this year including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at the full range for the first time since 2017 Washington and South Korean officials have repeatedly warned that the North is preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test
    North Korea rejects Seoul’s aid offer as ‘height of absurdity’
     The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday rejected Seoul s offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearisation steps calling it the height of absurdity and a deal Pyongyang would never accept The statement follows South Korean President Yoon Suk yeol this week putting forward an audacious aid plan that would include food energy and infrastructure help in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programme Analysts previously said the chances of Pyongyang accepting such a deal first floated during Yoon s inaugural speech were vanishingly slim as the North which invests an enormous chunk of its GDP into weapons programmes has long made it clear it will not make that trade Kim Jong Un s sister Yo Jong on Friday called Yoon s offer the height of absurdity claiming it was as realistic as creating mulberry fields in the dark blue ocean To think that the plan to barter economic cooperation for our honour our nukes is a great dream hope and plan of Yoon we came to realize that he is really simple and still childish she said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency She added that there would never be negotiations between the countries that used denuclearisation as a starting point No one barters its destiny for corn cake she said She also accused the South of recycling proposals the North had previously rejected while comparing Yoon to a barking dog saying it would have been better for his image to shut his mouth South Korea s presidential office expressed strong regret over Yo Jong s rude remarks but added that the offer of economic aid remained in place North Korea s attitude is in no way helpful to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula as well as its own future and only promotes isolation from the international community it said in a statement The personal nature of Yo Jong s attack against Yoon showed that relations would likely be severely difficult over the hawkish new president s five year term Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told AFP Yoon has said that North Korea s denuclearisation is the very basis for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula Yang said Today by ridiculing Yoon Kim Yo Jong basically told him once again that the North cannot disagree more Ready to mobilise Pyongyang last week warned it would wipe out Seoul authorities over a recent Covid 19 outbreak a threat that came less than a month after Kim Jong Un said his country was ready to mobilise its nuclear capability in any war with the United States and the South Yoon on Wednesday said his administration had no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent even as Pyongyang test fired two cruise missiles the same day Cheong Seong chang director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute said Yo Jong s Friday statement clearly reaffirms Pyongyang will never give up its nukes Accordingly the Yoon administration s policies on North Korean denuclearisation will inevitably need a fundamental revision he told AFP The weight of North Korean nuclear threats that South Korea has to live with has already exceeded the level it can bear he said North Korea has conducted a record breaking blitz of weapons tests this year including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at the full range for the first time since 2017 Washington and South Korean officials have repeatedly warned that the North is preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test
    North Korea rejects Seoul’s aid offer as ‘height of absurdity’
    Foreign2 months ago

    North Korea rejects Seoul’s aid offer as ‘height of absurdity’

    The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Friday rejected Seoul’s offer of economic assistance in return for denuclearisation steps, calling it the “height of absurdity” and a deal Pyongyang would never accept.

    The statement follows South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol this week putting forward an “audacious” aid plan that would include food, energy and infrastructure help in return for the North abandoning its nuclear weapons programme.

    Analysts previously said the chances of Pyongyang accepting such a deal — first floated during Yoon’s inaugural speech — were vanishingly slim, as the North, which invests an enormous chunk of its GDP into weapons programmes, has long made it clear it will not make that trade.

    Kim Jong Un’s sister, Yo Jong, on Friday, called Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, claiming it was as realistic as creating “mulberry fields in the dark blue ocean”.

    “To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is a great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realize that he is really simple and still childish,” she said in a statement carried by the official Korea Central News Agency.

    She added that there would never be negotiations between the countries that used denuclearisation as a starting point.

    “No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she said.

    She also accused the South of recycling proposals the North had previously rejected while comparing Yoon to a barking dog — saying it would have been better “for his image to shut his mouth”.

    South Korea’s presidential office expressed “strong regret” over Yo Jong’s “rude” remarks, but added that the offer of economic aid remained in place.

    “North Korea’s attitude is in no way helpful to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula, as well as its own future, and only promotes isolation from the international community,” it said in a statement.

    The personal nature of Yo Jong’s attack against Yoon showed that relations would likely be “severely difficult” over the hawkish new president’s five-year term, Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

    “Yoon has said that North Korea’s denuclearisation is the very basis for sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Yang said.

    “Today, by ridiculing Yoon, Kim Yo Jong basically told him once again that the North cannot disagree more.

    ” ‘Ready to mobilise’Pyongyang last week warned it would “wipe out” Seoul authorities over a recent Covid-19 outbreak, a threat that came less than a month after Kim Jong Un said his country was “ready to mobilise” its nuclear capability in any war with the United States and the South.

    Yoon on Wednesday said his administration had no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent, even as Pyongyang test-fired two cruise missiles the same day.

    Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, said Yo Jong’s Friday statement “clearly reaffirms” Pyongyang will never give up its nukes.

    Accordingly, the Yoon administration’s policies on North Korean denuclearisation will inevitably need a “fundamental revision”, he told AFP.

    “The weight of North Korean nuclear threats that South Korea has to live with has already exceeded the level it can bear,” he said.

    North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at the full range for the first time since 2017.

    Washington and South Korean officials have repeatedly warned that the North is preparing to carry out what would be its seventh nuclear test.

  •  North Korea reported zero fever cases Friday for a seventh straight day state media said adding that everyone who had fallen sick since the country confirmed its first Covid 19 infections had recovered The isolated country which has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic announced an Omicron outbreak in the capital Pyongyang in May and activated a maximum emergency epidemic prevention system State media have meticulously reported the official number of cases deaths treatments and recoveries every day since with leader Kim Jong Un putting himself front and centre of the government s response North Korea refers to fever patients rather than Covid patients in case reports apparently due to a lack of testing capacity No new fever cases were reported during the past week and all those receiving treatments have recovered across the country the official KCNA reported Friday The overall anti epidemic situation of the DPRK has entered a definite phase of stability the report added The country will continue to strengthen its monitoring of new COVID 19 sub variants and various diseases and can still mobilise medical workers in case of a crisis it added North Korea has recorded nearly 4 8 million infections since late April with just 74 deaths for an official fatality rate of 0 002 percent KCNA has reported The country has one of the world s worst healthcare systems with poorly equipped hospitals few intensive care units and no Covid 19 treatment drugs or vaccines experts say In contrast South Korea with its advanced healthcare systems and highly vaccinated population has a reported Covid fatality rate of 0 12 percent according to official data Hard to believe It is hard to believe any country if they say that the confirmed number of patients has suddenly gone to zero Ahn Chan il a North Korean studies scholar told AFP Like its military weapons and nuclear programmes it seems right to say that Covid is also being used to highlight Kim Jong Un s leadership and shore up loyalty regardless of what the truth is Pyongyang said in late May it had started seeing progress in controlling the outbreak but experts including the World Health Organization have repeatedly cast doubt on the claim North Korea is not believed to have vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people having rejected jabs offered by the WHO s Covax programme The Seoul based specialist site NK News reported that North Korea imported 3 554 invasive ventilators from China in June sharply up from April despite an overall decrease in trade But Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told AFP that Pyongyang s claim to have brought the epidemic under control seemed somewhat reliable Things could be getting back to normal as there are no signs of tighter border control no official request has been made to Beijing for medical aid or equipment and Pyongyang based diplomats remain in place he said
    North Korea says ‘all recovered’ after Covid outbreak
     North Korea reported zero fever cases Friday for a seventh straight day state media said adding that everyone who had fallen sick since the country confirmed its first Covid 19 infections had recovered The isolated country which has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic announced an Omicron outbreak in the capital Pyongyang in May and activated a maximum emergency epidemic prevention system State media have meticulously reported the official number of cases deaths treatments and recoveries every day since with leader Kim Jong Un putting himself front and centre of the government s response North Korea refers to fever patients rather than Covid patients in case reports apparently due to a lack of testing capacity No new fever cases were reported during the past week and all those receiving treatments have recovered across the country the official KCNA reported Friday The overall anti epidemic situation of the DPRK has entered a definite phase of stability the report added The country will continue to strengthen its monitoring of new COVID 19 sub variants and various diseases and can still mobilise medical workers in case of a crisis it added North Korea has recorded nearly 4 8 million infections since late April with just 74 deaths for an official fatality rate of 0 002 percent KCNA has reported The country has one of the world s worst healthcare systems with poorly equipped hospitals few intensive care units and no Covid 19 treatment drugs or vaccines experts say In contrast South Korea with its advanced healthcare systems and highly vaccinated population has a reported Covid fatality rate of 0 12 percent according to official data Hard to believe It is hard to believe any country if they say that the confirmed number of patients has suddenly gone to zero Ahn Chan il a North Korean studies scholar told AFP Like its military weapons and nuclear programmes it seems right to say that Covid is also being used to highlight Kim Jong Un s leadership and shore up loyalty regardless of what the truth is Pyongyang said in late May it had started seeing progress in controlling the outbreak but experts including the World Health Organization have repeatedly cast doubt on the claim North Korea is not believed to have vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people having rejected jabs offered by the WHO s Covax programme The Seoul based specialist site NK News reported that North Korea imported 3 554 invasive ventilators from China in June sharply up from April despite an overall decrease in trade But Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korean Studies told AFP that Pyongyang s claim to have brought the epidemic under control seemed somewhat reliable Things could be getting back to normal as there are no signs of tighter border control no official request has been made to Beijing for medical aid or equipment and Pyongyang based diplomats remain in place he said
    North Korea says ‘all recovered’ after Covid outbreak
    Foreign2 months ago

    North Korea says ‘all recovered’ after Covid outbreak

    North Korea reported zero fever cases Friday for a seventh straight day, state media said, adding that everyone who had fallen sick since the country confirmed its first Covid-19 infections had recovered.

    The isolated country, which has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the start of the pandemic, announced an Omicron outbreak in the capital Pyongyang in May and activated a “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system”.

    State media have meticulously reported the official number of cases, deaths, treatments and recoveries every day since, with leader Kim Jong Un putting himself front and centre of the government’s response.

    North Korea refers to “fever patients” rather than “Covid patients” in case reports, apparently due to a lack of testing capacity.

    “No new fever cases were reported during the past week and all those receiving treatments have recovered across the country,” the official KCNA reported Friday.

    “The overall anti-epidemic situation of the DPRK has entered a definite phase of stability,” the report added.

    The country will continue to strengthen its monitoring of “new COVID-19 sub-variants and various diseases” and can still mobilise medical workers “in case of a crisis”, it added.

    North Korea has recorded nearly 4.

    8 million infections since late April with just 74 deaths for an official fatality rate of 0.

    002 percent, KCNA has reported.

    The country has one of the world’s worst healthcare systems, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, and no Covid-19 treatment drugs or vaccines, experts say.

    In contrast, South Korea — with its advanced healthcare systems and highly vaccinated population — has a reported Covid fatality rate of 0.

    12 percent, according to official data.

    ‘Hard to believe’“It is hard to believe any country if they say that the confirmed number of patients has suddenly gone to zero,” Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, told AFP.

    “Like its military weapons and nuclear programmes, it seems right to say that Covid is also being used to highlight Kim Jong Un’s leadership and shore up loyalty, regardless of what the truth is.

    ”Pyongyang said in late May it had started seeing “progress” in controlling the outbreak but experts, including the World Health Organization, have repeatedly cast doubt on the claim.

    North Korea is not believed to have vaccinated any of its roughly 25 million people, having rejected jabs offered by the WHO’s Covax programme.

    The Seoul-based specialist site NK News reported that North Korea imported 3,554 invasive ventilators from China in June, sharply up from April, despite an overall decrease in trade.

    But Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP that Pyongyang’s claim to have brought the epidemic under control seemed “somewhat reliable”.

    Things could be getting back to normal as “there are no signs of tighter border control, no official request has been made to Beijing for medical aid or equipment, and Pyongyang-based diplomats remain in place”, he said.

  •  An internal fight over whether Google built technology with human like consciousness has come to light exposing the ambitions and risks inherent in artificial intelligence that may seem all too real The Silicon Valley giant suspended one of its engineers last week for arguing that the company s LaMDA artificial intelligence system appeared sentient a claim Google officially disagrees with Several experts told AFP they were also highly skeptical of the conscience claim but said human nature and ambition could easily confound the issue The problem is that when we come across strings of words that belong to the languages we speak we make sense of them said Emily M Bender a professor of linguistics at the University of Washington We are doing the work of imagining a mind that does not exist he added LaMDA is an enormously powerful system that uses advanced models and training on more than 1 5 billion words to be able to mimic how people communicate in written chats The system was built on a model that looks at how words relate to each other and then predicts which words it thinks will come next in a sentence or paragraph according to Google s explanation It s still about some level of pattern matching said Shashank Srivastava an assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Surely you can find some threads of what would really look like a meaningful conversation some very creative text that they could generate But in many cases it quickly degenerates she added Still assigning consciousness becomes tricky It has often involved benchmarks such as the Turing test which a machine is considered to have passed if a human has a written conversation with one but cannot tell That s actually a pretty easy test for any AI of our crop here in 2022 to pass said Mark Kingwell a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto A more difficult test is a contextual test the kind of thing that current systems seem to stumble over common sense knowledge or background ideas the kind of thing that algorithms struggle with he added There are no easy answers AI remains a touchy subject inside and outside the tech world one that can cause awe but also a bit of discomfort Google in a statement was quick and firm in downplaying whether LaMDA is self aware These systems mimic the types of exchanges found in millions of sentences and can modify any fantastic theme the company said Hundreds of researchers and engineers have spoken with LaMDA and we are not aware of anyone else making far reaching claims or anthropomorphizing LaMDA he added At least some experts saw Google s response as an effort to close the conversation on an important topic I think public discussion of the topic is extremely important because public understanding of how perplexing the topic is is key said academic Susan Schneider There are no easy answers to questions about consciousness in machines added the founding director of the Center for the Future of Mind at Florida Atlantic University The lack of skepticism on the part of those working on the topic is also possible at a time when people are swimming in a huge amount of AI hype as linguistics professor Bender put it And a lot a lot of money is being put into this So the people who work on it have this very strong signal that they re doing something important and real which makes them not necessarily maintain the appropriate skepticism she added In recent years AI has also suffered from poor decisions Bender cited research that found a language model could detect racist and anti immigrant biases when conducting training online Kingwell a professor at the University of Toronto said the question of AI sentience is part Brave New World and part 1984 two dystopian works that touch on technology and human freedom I think a lot of people don t really know which way to go and hence the anxiety he added
    It’s (not) alive! Google row exposes AI troubles
     An internal fight over whether Google built technology with human like consciousness has come to light exposing the ambitions and risks inherent in artificial intelligence that may seem all too real The Silicon Valley giant suspended one of its engineers last week for arguing that the company s LaMDA artificial intelligence system appeared sentient a claim Google officially disagrees with Several experts told AFP they were also highly skeptical of the conscience claim but said human nature and ambition could easily confound the issue The problem is that when we come across strings of words that belong to the languages we speak we make sense of them said Emily M Bender a professor of linguistics at the University of Washington We are doing the work of imagining a mind that does not exist he added LaMDA is an enormously powerful system that uses advanced models and training on more than 1 5 billion words to be able to mimic how people communicate in written chats The system was built on a model that looks at how words relate to each other and then predicts which words it thinks will come next in a sentence or paragraph according to Google s explanation It s still about some level of pattern matching said Shashank Srivastava an assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Surely you can find some threads of what would really look like a meaningful conversation some very creative text that they could generate But in many cases it quickly degenerates she added Still assigning consciousness becomes tricky It has often involved benchmarks such as the Turing test which a machine is considered to have passed if a human has a written conversation with one but cannot tell That s actually a pretty easy test for any AI of our crop here in 2022 to pass said Mark Kingwell a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto A more difficult test is a contextual test the kind of thing that current systems seem to stumble over common sense knowledge or background ideas the kind of thing that algorithms struggle with he added There are no easy answers AI remains a touchy subject inside and outside the tech world one that can cause awe but also a bit of discomfort Google in a statement was quick and firm in downplaying whether LaMDA is self aware These systems mimic the types of exchanges found in millions of sentences and can modify any fantastic theme the company said Hundreds of researchers and engineers have spoken with LaMDA and we are not aware of anyone else making far reaching claims or anthropomorphizing LaMDA he added At least some experts saw Google s response as an effort to close the conversation on an important topic I think public discussion of the topic is extremely important because public understanding of how perplexing the topic is is key said academic Susan Schneider There are no easy answers to questions about consciousness in machines added the founding director of the Center for the Future of Mind at Florida Atlantic University The lack of skepticism on the part of those working on the topic is also possible at a time when people are swimming in a huge amount of AI hype as linguistics professor Bender put it And a lot a lot of money is being put into this So the people who work on it have this very strong signal that they re doing something important and real which makes them not necessarily maintain the appropriate skepticism she added In recent years AI has also suffered from poor decisions Bender cited research that found a language model could detect racist and anti immigrant biases when conducting training online Kingwell a professor at the University of Toronto said the question of AI sentience is part Brave New World and part 1984 two dystopian works that touch on technology and human freedom I think a lot of people don t really know which way to go and hence the anxiety he added
    It’s (not) alive! Google row exposes AI troubles
    Foreign4 months ago

    It’s (not) alive! Google row exposes AI troubles

    An internal fight over whether Google built technology with human-like consciousness has come to light, exposing the ambitions and risks inherent in artificial intelligence that may seem all too real.

    The Silicon Valley giant suspended one of its engineers last week for arguing that the company's LaMDA artificial intelligence system appeared "sentient," a claim Google officially disagrees with.

    Several experts told AFP they were also highly skeptical of the conscience claim, but said human nature and ambition could easily confound the issue.

    "The problem is that ... when we come across strings of words that belong to the languages ​​we speak, we make sense of them," said Emily M. Bender, a professor of linguistics at the University of Washington.

    “We are doing the work of imagining a mind that does not exist,” he added.

    LaMDA is an enormously powerful system that uses advanced models and training on more than 1.5 billion words to be able to mimic how people communicate in written chats.

    The system was built on a model that looks at how words relate to each other and then predicts which words it thinks will come next in a sentence or paragraph, according to Google's explanation.

    "It's still about some level of pattern matching," said Shashank Srivastava, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    “Surely you can find some threads of what would really look like a meaningful conversation, some very creative text that they could generate. But in many cases it quickly degenerates,” she added.

    Still, assigning consciousness becomes tricky.

    It has often involved benchmarks such as the Turing test, which a machine is considered to have passed if a human has a written conversation with one, but cannot tell.

    "That's actually a pretty easy test for any AI of our crop here in 2022 to pass," said Mark Kingwell, a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto.

    "A more difficult test is a contextual test, the kind of thing that current systems seem to stumble over, common sense knowledge or background ideas, the kind of thing that algorithms struggle with," he added.

    'There are no easy answers' AI remains a touchy subject inside and outside the tech world, one that can cause awe but also a bit of discomfort.

    Google, in a statement, was quick and firm in downplaying whether LaMDA is self-aware.

    "These systems mimic the types of exchanges found in millions of sentences and can modify any fantastic theme," the company said.

    "Hundreds of researchers and engineers have spoken with LaMDA and we are not aware of anyone else making... far-reaching claims or anthropomorphizing LaMDA," he added.

    At least some experts saw Google's response as an effort to close the conversation on an important topic.

    "I think public discussion of the topic is extremely important, because public understanding of how perplexing the topic is is key," said academic Susan Schneider.

    "There are no easy answers to questions about consciousness in machines," added the founding director of the Center for the Future of Mind at Florida Atlantic University.

    The lack of skepticism on the part of those working on the topic is also possible at a time when people are "swimming in a huge amount of AI hype," as linguistics professor Bender put it.

    “And a lot, a lot of money is being put into this. So the people who work on it have this very strong signal that they're doing something important and real,” which makes them not necessarily “maintain the appropriate skepticism,” she added.

    In recent years, AI has also suffered from poor decisions: Bender cited research that found a language model could detect racist and anti-immigrant biases when conducting training online.

    Kingwell, a professor at the University of Toronto, said the question of AI sentience is part "Brave New World" and part "1984," two dystopian works that touch on technology and human freedom.

    "I think a lot of people don't really know which way to go, and hence the anxiety," he added.

  •  North Korea confirmed its first Covid 19 death on Friday saying the fever was spreading explosively across the country and tens of thousands of people were being isolated after falling ill The island country only reported its first Covid cases on Thursday and said it was moving towards a maximum emergency epidemic prevention system after sick patients in the capital Pyongyang tested positive for the Omicron variant North Korea has been under a rigid coronavirus lockdown since the start of the pandemic in 2020 but with massive Omicron outbreaks sweeping across neighboring countries experts said it was only a matter of time before covid crept in A fever whose cause could not be identified has spread explosively across the country since the end of April the official Korea Central News Agency said Six people died one of them tested positive for the Omicron subvariant BA 2 it added With its 25 million people unvaccinated against Covid North Korea s crumbling health infrastructure would struggle to cope with a major outbreak experts say On May 12 alone some 18 000 people with a fever occurred across the country and up to 187 800 people are being isolated and treated so far KCNA said Leader Kim Jong Un seen wearing a mask on state television for the first time oversaw an emergency Politburo meeting on Thursday and ordered nationwide lockdowns in a bid to stem the spread of the virus On Friday KCNA said Kim visited the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters and learned about the national spread of Covid 19 It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our Party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date KCNA added great chaos The massive nationwide outbreak is likely related to a large military parade in Pyongyang on April 25 said Cheong Seong chang of the Sejong Institute North Korea is likely to experience great chaos due to the rapid spread of Omicron he said given that the country currently reports nearly 20 000 cases in a single day If the death toll from Omicron rises Pyongyang may have to ask for China s support he added Beijing Pyongyang s only major ally and benefactor said on Thursday that it was ready to help North Korea with its Covid 19 outbreak But China the world s only major economy still maintaining a zero Covid policy is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks with some major cities including financial hub Shanghai under strict stay at home orders North Korea previously rejected offers of Covid vaccines from China as well as from the World Health Organization s Covax scheme In South Korea the new administration of President Yoon Suk yeol offered to send vaccines to the North but admitted it had not yet discussed it with Pyongyang Kim said on Friday that the fever outbreak shows that there is a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system and called for more lockdowns Kim said it is the top priority to block the spread of the virus by actively locking down areas and isolating and treating people with fevers responsibly KCNA reported Analysts said China s experience with Omicron indicated lockdowns may not succeed but without antiviral treatment and vaccines North Korea has few options nuclear distractionNorth Korea has tested three short range ballistic missiles Seoul said on Thursday shortly after Pyongyang confirmed its first Covid cases After high profile talks collapsed in 2019 North Korea has doubled down on weapons tests conducting a barrage of launches so far this year including intercontinental ballistic missiles Satellite images indicate that North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test and the United States has warned that this could happen as early as this month If Pyongyang needs help vaccines and medicine it may need to delay testing some analysts said but others warned the Covid 19 outbreak could speed things up A nuclear test would be a good way to distract the public from the pandemic Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korea Studies told AFP
    North Korea confirms first Covid-19 death in ‘explosive’ outbreak
     North Korea confirmed its first Covid 19 death on Friday saying the fever was spreading explosively across the country and tens of thousands of people were being isolated after falling ill The island country only reported its first Covid cases on Thursday and said it was moving towards a maximum emergency epidemic prevention system after sick patients in the capital Pyongyang tested positive for the Omicron variant North Korea has been under a rigid coronavirus lockdown since the start of the pandemic in 2020 but with massive Omicron outbreaks sweeping across neighboring countries experts said it was only a matter of time before covid crept in A fever whose cause could not be identified has spread explosively across the country since the end of April the official Korea Central News Agency said Six people died one of them tested positive for the Omicron subvariant BA 2 it added With its 25 million people unvaccinated against Covid North Korea s crumbling health infrastructure would struggle to cope with a major outbreak experts say On May 12 alone some 18 000 people with a fever occurred across the country and up to 187 800 people are being isolated and treated so far KCNA said Leader Kim Jong Un seen wearing a mask on state television for the first time oversaw an emergency Politburo meeting on Thursday and ordered nationwide lockdowns in a bid to stem the spread of the virus On Friday KCNA said Kim visited the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters and learned about the national spread of Covid 19 It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our Party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date KCNA added great chaos The massive nationwide outbreak is likely related to a large military parade in Pyongyang on April 25 said Cheong Seong chang of the Sejong Institute North Korea is likely to experience great chaos due to the rapid spread of Omicron he said given that the country currently reports nearly 20 000 cases in a single day If the death toll from Omicron rises Pyongyang may have to ask for China s support he added Beijing Pyongyang s only major ally and benefactor said on Thursday that it was ready to help North Korea with its Covid 19 outbreak But China the world s only major economy still maintaining a zero Covid policy is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks with some major cities including financial hub Shanghai under strict stay at home orders North Korea previously rejected offers of Covid vaccines from China as well as from the World Health Organization s Covax scheme In South Korea the new administration of President Yoon Suk yeol offered to send vaccines to the North but admitted it had not yet discussed it with Pyongyang Kim said on Friday that the fever outbreak shows that there is a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system and called for more lockdowns Kim said it is the top priority to block the spread of the virus by actively locking down areas and isolating and treating people with fevers responsibly KCNA reported Analysts said China s experience with Omicron indicated lockdowns may not succeed but without antiviral treatment and vaccines North Korea has few options nuclear distractionNorth Korea has tested three short range ballistic missiles Seoul said on Thursday shortly after Pyongyang confirmed its first Covid cases After high profile talks collapsed in 2019 North Korea has doubled down on weapons tests conducting a barrage of launches so far this year including intercontinental ballistic missiles Satellite images indicate that North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test and the United States has warned that this could happen as early as this month If Pyongyang needs help vaccines and medicine it may need to delay testing some analysts said but others warned the Covid 19 outbreak could speed things up A nuclear test would be a good way to distract the public from the pandemic Yang Moo jin a professor at the University of North Korea Studies told AFP
    North Korea confirms first Covid-19 death in ‘explosive’ outbreak
    Foreign5 months ago

    North Korea confirms first Covid-19 death in ‘explosive’ outbreak

    North Korea confirmed its first Covid-19 death on Friday, saying the fever was spreading "explosively" across the country and tens of thousands of people were being isolated after falling ill.

    The island country only reported its first Covid cases on Thursday and said it was moving towards a "maximum emergency epidemic prevention system" after sick patients in the capital Pyongyang tested positive for the Omicron variant.

    North Korea has been under a rigid coronavirus lockdown since the start of the pandemic in 2020, but with massive Omicron outbreaks sweeping across neighboring countries, experts said it was only a matter of time before covid crept in.

    "A fever whose cause could not be identified has spread explosively across the country since the end of April," the official Korea Central News Agency said.

    "Six people died (one of them tested positive for the Omicron subvariant BA.2)," it added.

    With its 25 million people unvaccinated against Covid, North Korea's crumbling health infrastructure would struggle to cope with a major outbreak, experts say.

    “On May 12 alone, some 18,000 people with a fever occurred across the country, and up to 187,800 people are being isolated and treated so far,” KCNA said.

    Leader Kim Jong Un, seen wearing a mask on state television for the first time, oversaw an emergency Politburo meeting on Thursday and ordered nationwide lockdowns in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

    On Friday, KCNA said Kim visited the state emergency epidemic prevention headquarters and "learned about the national spread of Covid-19."

    "It is the most important challenge and supreme tasks facing our Party to reverse the immediate public health crisis situation at an early date," KCNA added.

    'great chaos'
    The massive nationwide outbreak is likely related to a large military parade in Pyongyang on April 25, said Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute.

    North Korea is likely to experience "great chaos" due to the rapid spread of Omicron, he said, given that the country currently reports nearly 20,000 cases in a single day.

    "If the death toll from Omicron rises, Pyongyang may have to ask for China's support," he added.

    Beijing, Pyongyang's only major ally and benefactor, said on Thursday that it was ready to help North Korea with its Covid-19 outbreak.

    But China, the world's only major economy still maintaining a zero-Covid policy, is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks, with some major cities, including financial hub Shanghai, under strict stay-at-home orders.

    North Korea previously rejected offers of Covid vaccines from China, as well as from the World Health Organization's Covax scheme.

    In South Korea, the new administration of President Yoon Suk-yeol offered to send vaccines to the North, but admitted it had not yet discussed it with Pyongyang.

    Kim said on Friday that the fever outbreak "shows that there is a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system" and called for more lockdowns.

    Kim “said it is the top priority to block the spread of the virus by actively locking down areas and isolating and treating people with fevers responsibly,” KCNA reported.

    Analysts said China's experience with Omicron indicated lockdowns may not succeed, but without antiviral treatment and vaccines, North Korea has few options.

    nuclear distraction
    North Korea has tested three short-range ballistic missiles, Seoul said on Thursday, shortly after Pyongyang confirmed its first Covid cases.

    After high-profile talks collapsed in 2019, North Korea has doubled down on weapons tests, conducting a barrage of launches so far this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Satellite images indicate that North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test, and the United States has warned that this could happen as early as this month.

    If Pyongyang needs help (vaccines and medicine), it may need to delay testing, some analysts said, but others warned the Covid-19 outbreak could speed things up.

    "A nuclear test would be a good way to distract the public from the pandemic," Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies, told AFP.