14 Coronavirus Infected People Travelling in in-flight ISOLATION chambers – land in Texas and California to face 14 MORE days of quarantine

Cargo planes from Japan carrying 340 American cruise passengers – including 14 infected travelling in in-flight ISOLATION chambers – land in Texas and California to face 14 MORE days of quarantine

  • Two planes carrying 340 Americans have arrived back in the U.S. after they were evacuated from the coronavirus quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan
  • The first plane touched down at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before 11.30pm on Sunday local time, before the second plane arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas a few hours later 
  • Fourteen U.S. evacuees had to be placed in special isolation chambers for the duration of the flights after it emerged they had been infected with coronvirus in the lead up to the evacuation
  • As the evacuees were being taken to the airport in Tokyo, results from tests carried out two to three days earlier came back and showed the 14 passengers had the infection 
  • Despite the U.S. earlier saying no infected passenger would be allowed to leave, those who tested positive were still allowed to board the planes because they did not have symptoms 
  • The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus given about 400 passengers have tested positive during a two-week quarantine 
  • After arriving in the U.S., all of the evacuees must go through another 14 days of quarantine at the American military facilities 
  • The cruise ship, by far the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside China, has become the biggest test so far of other countries’ ability to contain an outbreak that has killed 1,770 people in China and five elsewhere 

Two planes evacuating 340 American cruise ship passengers from coronavirus quarantine on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have now landed back in the U.S. after 14 evacuees were placed in isolation chambers when officials realized they had tested positive for the deadly virus.

The first 747 plane touched down at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California just before 11.30pm on Sunday local time, before the second plane arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas a few hours later.

Fourteen U.S. evacuees had to be placed in special isolation chambers for the duration of the flights after it emerged they had been infected with coronvirus in the lead up to the evacuation.

The passengers had all been deemed ‘fit to fly’ and were not showing symptoms before disembarking from the cruise ship. As the evacuees were being taken to the airport in Tokyo, results from tests carried out two to three days earlier came back and showed the 14 passengers had the infection.

Despite the U.S. earlier saying no infected passenger would be allowed to leave, those who tested positive were still allowed to board the planes because they did not have symptoms. The State Department said they were being isolated separately from other passengers on the flights.

The U.S. said it arranged the evacuation because people on the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus given more than 400 passengers have tested positive since the cruise liner was ordered to stay under quarantine on February 4.

After arriving in the U.S., all of the passengers must go through another 14 days of quarantine at the military facilities – meaning they will have been under quarantine for a total of nearly four weeks. The infected passengers will be taken to an isolated facility.

The cruise ship Diamond Princess, by far the largest cluster of coronavirus cases outside China, has become the biggest test so far of other countries’ ability to contain an outbreak that has killed 1,770 people in China and five elsewhere.

A second plane carrying Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess ship arrives at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas after flying back from Tokyo
One of two planes carrying 340 Americans back to the US from Japan where they spent almost two weeks under coronavirus quarantine on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship has landed at Travis Air Force Base in California 
The State Department confirmed that, after the evacuees had been placed on buses to the airport, 14 people who were not showing symptoms had tested positive for the virus – and were then placed into isolation chambers
The sick passengers were allowed to continue on the flight but inside the isolation chambers (pictured), and will be taken for treatment separate to the other passengers after landing
340 Americans decided to abandon ship and take the government charter flights back to the US, where they will be under additional quarantine on two military bases for another 14 days

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that an infected person who shows minimal symptoms could still pass the virus to someone else.

It came as Japanese officials confirmed 99 additional people had been infected by the virus aboard the quarantined cruise ship, bringing the total to 454. At least 62 Americans are among those infected but it is unclear if that figure includes the 14 who were evacuated.

The United States was the first country to evacuate its passengers from the ship. Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Italy were planning similar flights of passengers.

More than 71,000 people have now been infected with the virus worldwide, while 1,775 people have died from it. Overall, Japan has 419 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death. The United States has confirmed 15 cases within the country. Separately, one U.S. citizen died in China.

U.S. authorities had announced on Saturday that they would offer the 380 Americans on board the option to leave the ship. The evacuation was not mandatory but the Americans who chose not to leave the ship were warned they wouldn’t be allowed to return to the U.S. ‘for a period of time’ that will be determined later by the Centres for Disease Control.

Those who arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California have been told they will be quarantined at the Westwind Inn on the base, which is the same place where those evacuated from Wuhan are being held. They will be kept in a separate part of the building to those who are already in quarantine.

The Americans who did evacuate the ship said they were frustrated about the additional two-week quarantine in the U.S. because they believed they would be able to walk free from the Diamond Princess when the ship’s quarantine is scheduled to be lifted on Wednesday.

‘It’s like a prison sentence for something I did not do,’ passenger Karey Mansicalco told CNN from her cabin. ‘They are holding us hostage for absolutely no reason.’

‘On cargo plane. You cannot Imagine. Crazy or worst dream ever,’ American evacuee Gay Courter wrote on Facebook after boarding one of the flights at Tokyo International Airport.

Her husband Philip added: ‘Huge windowless B-747 cargo plane with some seats bolted in. Destination unknown at this time.’

Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, opted to trade one coronavirus quarantine for another, leaving the cruise ship to fly back to the U.S. Cheryl Molesky said the rising number of patients on the ship factored into the decision.

‘We are glad to be going home,’ Cheryl Molesky earlier told NHK TV in Japan. ‘It’s just a little bit disappointing that we´ll have to go through quarantine again, and we will probably not be as comfortable as the Diamond Princess, possibly.’

When they eventually boarded the plane with other Americans, Cheryl said: ‘Well, we’re exhausted, but we’re on the plane and that’s a good feeling. Pretty miserable wearing these masks though, and everybody had to go to the bathroom on the bus.’

Japan said that 340 Americans were taken to Tokyo’s airport to be evacuated, while another those who had already been diagnosed were forced to stay behind for treatment. A handful of others opted to stay
Passengers on board the 747 cargo airplane could be seen taking pictures as they arrived back in America, having been held on the cruise ship since February 3
Buses carrying U.S. passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess, seen in background, leaves Yokohama port, near Tokyo, early Monday. The cruise ship was carrying nearly 3,500 passengers and crew members
U.S. passengers from the Diamond Princess are seen on charter buses taking them to Haneda Airport on Monday
Passengers are seen boarding one of two planes bound for the U.S. at Tokyo’s Haneda airport late Sunday after they evacuated the Diamond Princess cruise ship
A bus carrying U.S. passengers who were aboard the quarantined cruise ship the Diamond Princess arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo, before the passengers board a Kalitta airplane chartered by the U.S. government

Other Americans on board the cruise ship declined to evacuate the Diamond Princess, despite being warned they will still have to wait two weeks and test negative for the virus before being allowed back to the United States.

They feared being on a long flight with other passengers who may be infected or in an incubation period.

‘My health is fine. And my two-week quarantine is almost over. Why would I want to be put on a bus and a plane with other people they think may be infected when I have spent nearly two weeks isolated from those people?’ Matt Smith, an American lawyer on the ship with his wife, tweeted.

He described a fellow American passenger standing on her balcony chanting ‘USA, USA’ as buses arrived to collect them.

‘Of course, in contravention of the rules of quarantine, she’s not wearing a face mask and she’s talking with a passenger on the adjacent balcony… And you wanted me to get on a bus with her?’

He said American officials in hazmat suits and face masks had visited his room to check if he would disembark but he said he wanted to stay.

Later, when Smith had learned 14 infected passengers were still allowed to board the flights, he tweeted: ‘OMG! US Gov’t said they would not put anyone on the planes who was symptomatic, and they ended up knowingly and intentionally putting on 14 people who actually have the virus. Decision not to be evacuated = best decision ever!’

Japanese authorities, dressed in head-to-toe protective suits, helped transport the Americans to the airport in Tokyo on a convoy of 14 buses.

Americans Cheryl and Paul Molesky, a couple from Syracuse, New York, said after boarding the flight: said: ‘Well, we’re exhausted, but we’re on the plane and that’s a good feeling. Pretty miserable wearing these masks though, and everybody had to go to the bathroom on the bus.’
Americans who evacuated the cruise ship are pictured boarding one of the two planes that took them back to the U.S.
Those Americans who chose to leave the Diamond Princess are seen in a chartered evacuation aircraft to fly back to the US
Phil Courter, a U.S. passenger on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, wears a face mask on a chartered evacuation aircraft to fly back to the United States at Haneda airport in Japan
Health officials in protective suits are seen ferrying passengers to board the evacuation flights in Tokyo

American Sarah Arana, a 52-year-old medical social worker, said there were no health checks when they passed through a makeshift passport control.

She said the U.S. government should have acted ‘much sooner, at the beginning’.

‘I am happy and ready to go,’ Arana told AFP before leaving the ship. ‘We need a proper quarantine. This was not it.’

Across mainland China, officials said the total number of coronavirus cases rose by 2,048 to 70,548. That was slightly more new cases than were reported on Sunday, but hundreds fewer than reported on Saturday.

Chinese authorities say the stabilisation in the number of new cases is a sign that measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect.

However, epidemiologists say it is probably still too early to say how well the outbreak is being contained within China and its central Hubei province, where the virus first appeared.

China has responded to the COVID-19 virus by effectively locking down Hubei’s provincial capital Wuhan, a megacity of 11 million people.

Medical workers in protective suits attend to a patient inside an isolated ward of Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak
Medical staff members treating a patient infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province

Concerns remain about the global transmission, especially on cruise ships which appear to have become especially virulent breeding grounds.

Fears are growing for passengers on the Westerdam cruise ship, who all received a clean bill of health when they disembarked in Cambodia – a staunch ally of Beijing.

An 83-year-old American woman was stopped by authorities in Malaysia over the weekend when she was detected with a fever and later diagnosed with the virus.

There were more than 2,200 passengers and crew on the ship when it docked in Sihanoukville, many of whom have now dispersed around the globe.

With tourism battered and global supply chains disrupted by the virus, experts are fretting about the toll it could take on a fragile global economy.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said there could be a cut of around 0.1-0.2 percentage points to global growth but stressed there was ‘still a great deal of uncertainty.’

Japan, one of the hardest-hit countries outside China irrespective of the Diamond Princess, suffered its biggest economic slump in more than five years – even before the coronavirus crisis. Gross domestic product in the world’s third-top economy shrank an eye-watering 1.6 percent in the three months to December – a much bigger contraction than economists had feared.

It comes after Chinese scientists revealed the deadly virus may have started life in a research facility just 300 yards from the Wuhan fish market.

A new bombshell paper from the Beijing-sponsored South China University of Technology says that the Wuhan Center for Disease Control (WHCDC) could have spawned the contagion in Hubei province.

‘The possible origins of 2019-nCoV coronavirus,’ penned by scholars Botao Xiao and Lei Xiao claims the WHCDC kept disease-ridden animals in laboratories, including 605 bats.

It also mentions that bats – which are linked to coronavirus – once attacked a researcher and ‘blood of bat was on his skin.’

The report says: ‘Genome sequences from patients were 96% or 89% identical to the Bat CoV ZC45 coronavirus originally found in Rhinolophus affinis (intermediate horseshoe bat).’

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Locust plague reaches coronavirus-hit China after wreaking havoc across Africa


Chilling footage has shown thousands of insects swarming the skies at a border in China. They reportedly come from a plague that has devastated east Africa in recent weeks.

By Simon Green – Video News Editor – 11:38, 17 FEB 2020 – UPDATED 16:15, 17 FEB 2020

A gigantic swarm of locusts that belong to a plague that has ravaged millions of acres of crops across east Africa has been spotted reaching the Chinese border.

Billions of the insects have destroyed food supplies across Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia in what has been described as the worst plague for decades.

With vast swathes of the population in the region already facing food shortages due to poverty, the United Nations has warned action must be taken to avoid another “shock” to the region.

But footage has now surfaced showing thousands of the locusts seemingly reaching the border of China, adding yet more problems to a country struggling to contain the deadly coronavirus.

The clip is believed to have been taken on the Xinjiang border in the west of the country on February 15.

It shows the blue sky filled with the locusts as far as the eye can see.

The plague has flown across the Red Sea into Europe and Asia in recent days.

Pakistan – which borders China – recently declared a national emergency over the locusts.

But the Communist Party of China has tried to downplay the severity of the swarms reaching the country.

They claim their modern technology and sufficient stocks which have not been seen in Africa will prevent any widespread damage.

That has had little impact among residents already worried about the spread of coronavirus though, which has already killed 1,770 people in mainland China.

“I worry that locusts will become a carrier of pneumonia (a major symptom of coronavirus),” one wrote on Twitter.

Another said: “You can believe what the experts say? Just listen to it.”

One expert, quoted by the Epoch Times, warned that the locusts could pose a direct threat to China, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

But others were less worried, suggesting they would not be able to spread into the snowy region of Xinjiang. (Click to Source)

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Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – Psalms 133:1 – The Scriptures by Institute For Scripture Research – 2009 Edition – Febuary 17, 2020

Psalms 133

See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity
Like the precious oil on the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aharon, Running down on the collar of his robes –
Like the dew of Ḥermon, That comes down on the mountains of Tsiyon. For there יהוה (Yahweh) commanded the blessing, Life forever!

The Scriptures by Institute For Scripture Research – 2009 Edition

 

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Navy chaplain accused of violating Constitution for encouraging soldiers to ‘lead like Jesus’

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter –  CURRENT PAGE:U.S. | SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020

A U.S. Navy chaplain has been accused of violating the U.S. Constitution for teaching an optional 12-week seminar called “Lead Like Jesus” at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island.

According to the religious liberty legal organization First Liberty Institute, Cmdr. Richard Smothers is being antagonized by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation — a group that argues for a strictly secularist interpretation of the Constitution — for promoting the seminar at the base.

MRFF sent an email demanding that Capt. Ian Johnson, commander of the Naval base, investigate Smothers and anyone else who promoted the seminar through emails or fliers. The organization argues that service members were being “voluntold” to attend the Christian-oriented event.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, founder of MRFF, accused Smothers of having “weaponized Christianity” in an interview with the Navy Times published in January. He added that those behind the discussions should be “visibly and aggressively investigated and punished.”

“Nothing could be more disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion than a message like this,” he said.

Commenting on the matter, First Liberty noted that encouraging troops through faith is in the job description of a chaplain.

“Most chaplains are endorsed by a particular church or religious organization, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim or a host of other religions. They agree to uphold that organization’s beliefs and to carry out their duties as a representative of their faith. If they don’t, they lose their endorsement,” the organization said Friday.

“That’s why it’s so absurd when chaplains are attacked for sharing certain aspects of their faith — like a Christian chaplain giving a seminar about Jesus. It goes against their very job description.”

Cmdr. Elizabeth Baker, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman, said in response to the complaint that no one was being coerced to attend the seminar.

“It’s not any kind of directive from the chaplain to lead like Jesus … it’s a discussion series after services only for those who volunteer to attend,” she said in a response to Navy Times.

An advisory board member of MRFF countered that discussions called “Lead like Mohammed” or “Atheist Leadership” would likewise not be “tolerated” on the base.

Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute, said in an interview with Fox News earlier this month that Jesus was a leader and it’s perfectly legal to study His leadership.

“It’s perfectly legal to study his leadership. In fact, some of our military leaders would do well to study Jesus’ leadership a bit more. None other than our first commander in chief, George Washington, looked to Jesus as a model of leadership.”

First Liberty Institute is the law firm that won a 7-2 victory at the United States Supreme Court last year in a case concerning the Bladensburg World War I “Peace Cross” in the case of American Legion et. al. v. American Humanist Association. The high court ruled that the monument, which has stood on public land in Maryland for approximately 50 years, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. (Click to Source)

 

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Locust attack: ‘This is very, very rare’

Changing wind patterns in India-Pakistan and frequent cyclones in the Indian Ocean due to climate change are creating suitable breeding conditions for locusts, says Keith Cressman, senior locust forecasting officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization.

By Jitendra – Last Updated: Tuesday 04 February 2020

 

How do you see the swarm attack panning out in India?

It appears that a very long breeding season of locust is finally ending. Its population is declining now. Though a few swarms still remain in western Rajasthan and Gujarat, these are immature and cannot be detected and controlled. India’s Locust Watch Centres need to be alert for the next few weeks.

Is this the first time that locust has stayed in India after October-November?

This has happened for the first time since the 1950s. The decades before this witnessed terrible and long periods of locust plague (when there is a swarm attack for more than two continuous years, it is called plague). This time, they stayed for long because of good monsoon.

In 2019, monsoon started six weeks before time (first week of July) in western India, especially in locust infested areas. It also lasted a month longer — till November, instead of the usual September/October. Extended rains created excellent breeding conditions for the locust, while also producing natural vegetation on which they could feed longer.

Locust came to Jaisalmer in May end. Rajasthan has witnessed three generations of breeding instead of the regular one generation. The first two generations caused a lot of damage to crops. The third generation is weak now.

How big is the number after the third generation?

Locust breeds fast. The first breeding causes a 20-time increase in number; the second a 400-time rise; and the third 16,000 times. The peak infestation this time was in October, at the end of second generation, when large swarms were reported in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Since natural vegetation dried out in December, the swarms got into cultivated areas and caused damage.

Can they return in May-June, or before the monsoon?

It does not matter if they go late or come early. Their children or great-grandchildren will come during the time of their annual migration, at the start of the monsoon. They move to south-west Pakistan, Baluchistan and south-east Iran where they hang out in the winter. They wait for rains as humidity and the resultant warmth creates a conducive environment for their breeding.

If breeding is good, the new swarm formed in May-end could move back to India’s monsoonal areas around June. The difference this year was that south-east Iran received heavy rainfall in January, giving an environment conducive for breeding. So swarms are moving from India and Pakistan to lay eggs there.

This generally happens in March-April, but this time it’s happening in January-February. This means Iran and Pakistan will now have an extra generation of locusts. This also means we will have 20 times more locust than normal.

Does this mean they will come early to India and Pakistan this year and set a new pattern of annual migration?

I don’t think so. It is not going to happen every year. Their seasonal migration depends on the rainfall patterns in Iran. Locust swarms are usually carried to India and Pakistan by the monsoon winds. If these are normal then their migration pattern will not change.

Do you think frequent changes in wind patterns are causing an increase in the frequency of locust attacks?

Yes. Wind patterns are changing over India and Pakistan. Because of climate change in the Indian Ocean, there are more cyclones. The frequency of cyclones has increased. Usually, there was a cyclone every five to six years, but in the past three years there have been three cyclones each year.

Cyclones bring rain to coastal Gujarat, Pakistan, Arabian Peninsula, Somalia and north-eastern Africa. This creates good breeding conditions. History shows that these plagues spread due to cyclonic winds.

Africa, too, witnessed one of its worst locust attacks last year.

It is linked to the attack in India and Pakistan. It started in mid-2018 when the desert region of Saudi Arabia received heavy rainfall due to a cyclone. There was another cyclone in November, followed by rains in the Red Sea coast region. These nine months of breeding produced an enormous number of locusts.

Some of them moved north, to Iran, and from there came for spring breeding in India and Pakistan. Other swarms moved south, to Yemen, and in summer, crossed the sea to reach Somalia, to the Horn of Africa. (Click to Source)

 

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‘As long as I’m president we will have ‘mother’ & ‘father’: Putin backs traditional family values once again

13 Feb, 2020 17:43

Russia will not introduce politically correct terminology such as “parent #1” and “parent #2” any time soon, Putin told a constitutional reform working group on Thursday, as they discussed family values in Russia.

As for ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2’, I have already publicly said it and I will repeat it once more: as long as I am president, we will not have parents #1 and #2, it will be ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

One of the working group members, Russian lawmaker Olga Batalina, told the president that many people in Russia are concerned about the fate of the traditional family and would like to see it protected by the constitution. Putin welcomed the idea but said that it needs careful consideration.

Batalina noted that some people who sent proposals to the 75-strong body which is tasked with processing citizens’ suggestions on the constitutional reform, would very much like to see ‘family’ defined as a “union of a man and a woman.”

Some Western nations have clearly moved beyond such definitions and terms altogether. French schools replaced ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in their documents with ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2’ back in February 2019 while Italy initiated a similar process as well but it was stalled by former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. The US took the lead in this field as early as in 2011 when it announced that it would replace “mother” and “father” on passport applications. (Click to Source)

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Meth is back and flooding the streets of Ohio and Kentucky, and it’s uglier than ever

Terry DeMio, Cincinnati EnquirerPublished 8:14 a.m. ET Feb. 13, 2020

The floor seemed filthy and she could not get rid of the grime. Amie Detzel frantically scrubbed that nursing home floor with cleaning supplies she’d found when no one was looking. On hands and knees, dragging her IV pole with her, the gravely sick woman incessantly scrubbed.

Meth had found its way into the nursing home. She was suffering from addiction. So she used it.

The psychotic episode happened after Detzel had spent days (and nights) of pushing the drug into the intravenous catheter that her caregivers were using to infuse antibiotics into her infected heart. The infection had come from a contaminated needle.

That catheter, the pathway for lifesaving antibiotics, became just another way to get a drug into Detzel’s body to alter her brain.

This was not heroin, which she’d been through. This was not fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opiate that had rushed into Cincinnati several years ago. This was methamphetamine, the primary drug now flooding the streets of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and other communities across the country. It’s a psychostimulant. It can induce psychosis.

That explains the scrubbing.

This new wave of meth is causing police and parents of users and even government officials to shift their focus from opioids to this stimulant – a drug that used to be common, then faded, but is resurging. This time, with much more purity, coming directly from Mexico, not backyard cookeries or houses or sheds.

The fresh attention to meth matters. After all, the rise in meth tested at law enforcement crime laboratories across Ohio and Kentucky is staggering.

Just one example of that rise: The 23 drug task forces (including Northern Kentucky’s) that are funded through the Ohio High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area agency saw a 1,600% jump in meth seized from 2015 to 2019 (and the 2019 numbers are incomplete).

Read that again: 1,600%.

But as shocking as that number is, some addiction experts say that we are missing the point behind the new meth wave.

The point: Addiction. The United States has an addiction crisis.

“We just simply move like a herd of locusts from one drug to another,” said Dr. Mina “Mike” Kalfas, a certified addiction expert in Northern Kentucky. “Meth is the replacement for the crack of old. We go from opioid (pain pills) to opioid (heroin) to opioid (fentanyl) to stimulant (meth).

“We try to get them off of the drug they’re on,” Kalfas said. “What we need to do is, treat the addiction. They’re using (a) drug as a coping mechanism.”

Addiction, which has been with us forever, is what needs to be fixed. With evidence-based treatment. The American Society of Addiction Medicine is still clamoring for more doctors to learn about such treatment and to attend to the problem as a disease.

Historically, the medical system largely ignored addiction, allowing the criminal justice system and treatment programs outside of the health-care system to deal with it, said Lindsey Vuolo, director of Health Law and Policy for and public affairs for the science-based nonprofit Center on Addiction in New York City.

The grudging change started with the opioid epidemic. As overdose death tolls soared, the mantra became: Treat addiction. Save lives. Keep people safe if they use drugs. Carry the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone. Provide more needle exchanges to prevent the spread of diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. Continue treatment for this chronic disease.

Those who ignore the advice put us at our own peril, experts say.

“If we don’t start to effectively and efficiently address addiction like the public health issue that it is, we will continue to see drug epidemic after drug epidemic,” said Courtney Hunter, director of advocacy at the Center on Addiction.

So why meth? Why now?

For starters, those who are addicted to opiates are hearing others talk about a new high, cheap and easy to get, and safer than fentanyl.

They are people with addiction, after all, and most people who suffer from addiction will reach for drugs other than the one they primarily use.

Meth is an alternative. But it’s sneaky.

Kalfas calls the current meth problem a new tentacle of the opioid epidemic, noting that most patients he’s seeing who switch from heroin to meth don’t give up opioids for long.

“They perceive (meth) as different, sometimes even lesser somehow, which is how they underestimate it. But when their batteries are dry, they need to ‘come down,’ what will they turn to? The opiate-addicted turns to opiates.”

Brittany Christian, 32, of Walnut Hills, who’s in recovery, said she learned about meth while she was in treatment for heroin addiction in Louisville.

“Everybody had done it and I hadn’t done it, and I really wanted to try it,” she said. She added: “I did not want to go through the heroin withdrawal again.”

Six months after she left that rehab, in May 2017, she decided to find meth.

“It’s just as easy as getting cigarettes at the gas station,” Christian said.

And cheap. In southwest Ohio, a gram of meth can go for as little as $4.50 per gram (and up to $25 a gram), said Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Assistant Superintendent Heinz Von Eckartsberg.

For Detzel, the woman who fell into obsessive floor-scrubbing, drugs were a way to cope with living, she says. Now 35 and in recovery for a year, Detzel was 13 when she was led into a sex-for-drugs trafficking situation orchestrated by someone close to her family.

She did drugs, she said, because it seemed normal.

“I never knew the proper way, you know, to get help,” she said. “All I knew was to use because that’s what I’d seen … at a young age.”

She was vulnerable to anything that took her away from her real life.

“I just wanted to try anything. Anything that I thought would take me to another level.”

And by the time she was 30, meth was simply there for her to try, she said. “Somebody was selling it.”

Like they had sold her.

But Detzel rallied. She was able to maintain sobriety after her stint in the nursing home. She had been prescribed Suboxone for her opioid addiction and had to steer clear of drug use for six months before she could have heart surgery. She learned coping mechanisms, learned she’d been trafficked through no fault of her own and turned to God for help. She celebrated one year in recovery in January.

No such help with meth

Both Detzel and Christian had been introduced to medical help for their initial addictions.

There is no medication-assisted treatment available for meth addiction, as there is for opioid addiction.

That lack will become more obvious every day.

“It looks to me that a supply of stimulants will gradually increase in the U.S., as it has been seen in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Adam Bisaga, an addiction research scientist who is a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. While he doesn’t believe people using opioids will easily switch to stimulants, he’s certain there will be more who use both types of drugs.

Bisaga said it appears the best treatment will be an extension of what’s beginning to happen in the United States with opioid use disorder: Medical intervention treating addiction as a chronic disease, treating both addictions “under one roof.”

The best treatment right now for meth addiction is psycho-social therapy, addiction experts say. The method can include talk therapy, learning about the illness and a rehabilitation regimen that helps people develop social and emotional skills they can employ to live a healthy life. Some sufferers are prescribed anti-anxiety or sleep-help drugs or other medications while they detox from meth.

Like with other addictions, “You have to look at the underlying issues and really make a treatment plan that’s individualized for the person,” said Kat Engel, vice president of nursing services for the Center of Addiction Treatment in the West End. “Are they self-medicating?”

As is usual with treatment, not enough are getting it. Meth-related deaths are rising. The latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, from 2012 to 2018, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine and other “psychostimulants with abuse potential” was up almost fivefold.

Christian, who has been in recovery for a year-and-a-half, said that, “absolutely,” treating drug use has to include treating the individual’s trauma.

“What’s causing someone to use? What issues are they going through? You know, I think a lot of it is underneath that needs to be brought up.”

In her case, it was sexual abuse she’d endured as a child.

With meth, says, she was paralyzed, hyper-focused on a single task. Sometimes, she felt empty. She scratched and picked sores onto her body and face. Once, she piloted her car to a hospital, expecting to be locked in a psych ward. But she was discharged.

For her, the confines and rules of the Center for Addiction Treatment saved her, she said. She found sobriety by following the rules, then looking into her own traumatic past.

“If they told me I could not have a pair of leggings, oh well, I can’t have a pair of leggings. If they told me to go to group therapy three times a day, I did that. My counselor, when she told me to journal, I journaled.”

Both she and Detzel believe their continued success has at least something to do with their work.

Christian is an admissions specialist for the Center for Addiction Treatment. She loves her job, saying, “Somebody did it for me.”

Detzel, now living in Cheviot, works at the YWCA downtown in Cincinnati helping domestic violence and rape victims as well as people with developmental disabilities who struggle with addiction. She’s been in recovery for just more than a year.

The lessons they learned about their own addictions and how to treat them are holding. But they see the avalanche of meth on the streets now. They know the attraction among opioid users to this drug is real.

In Hamilton County, Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, the county coroner, said the crime lab’s meth caseload leaped from a little more than 600 in 2016 to 3,600-plus cases in 2019 – “a sixfold increase.”

In Kentucky, the amount of meth seized and tested at the Kentucky State Police Crime Laboratories rose by 77% in just two years, from 2016 to 2018.

The outcomes of all this meth is yet to be seen.

Bisaga has this prediction for those who use such stimulants along with opioids:

“The mixed stimulant-opioid addiction is a different one,” Bisaga said. “We do not have a strategy to treat it, and many programs will be taken by surprise.

“The number of overdoses and adverse medical outcomes in people using both will increase, and this will be a fourth wave of the opioid epidemic.” (Click to Source)

 

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Nigeria: Death toll from Lassa fever outbreak jumps to 70

Authorities say number of suspected cases increased from more than 700 to 1,708 as Nigeria grapples with epidemic.

 

The death toll in Nigeria from an outbreak of Lassa fever has risen to 70 as confirmed cases shot up, according to authorities.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Nigerian agency responsible for the management of disease outbreaks, said in its week six update on Thursday that eight new deaths from Lassa fever were reported in three states.

“Four new healthcare workers were affected in Ondo, Delta and Kaduna states,” the NCDC said in the update.

It said the number of suspected cases has “increased significantly” compared with the situation in mid-January, from more than 700 to 1,708.

Confirmed cases have also shot up to 472, it said.

Lassa fever is a disease spread to humans through food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.

In 80 percent of cases, the fever is asymptomatic, but for some, the symptoms include high fever, headache, mouth ulcers, muscle aches, haemorrhaging under the skin and heart and kidney failure.

It has an incubation period of between six and 21 days and can be transmitted through contact with an infected person via bodily fluids and excretion.

Effective treatment

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the antiviral drug ribavirin appears to be an effective treatment for Lassa fever “if given early on in the course of the clinical illness”.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with about 200 million people, has five laboratories with the capability to diagnose the disease.

A health official works in the laboratory extraction room of the Institute of Lassa Fever Research and Control in Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Irrua, Edo State, midwest Nigeria, on March 6, 2
The number of cases usually climbs in January due to weather conditions during the dry season [Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP]

 

Lassa fever belongs to the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses but is much less deadly.

The disease is endemic to the West African country and its name comes from the town of Lassa in northern Nigeria where it was first identified in 1969.

It infects between 100,000 and 300,000 people in the region every year with about 5,000 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Previously, cases of the disease have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Togo and Benin.

The number of cases usually climbs in January due to weather conditions during the dry season. (Click to Source)

 

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This Ohio county may need a second morgue to handle the number of fentanyl overdoses

(CNN) If overdose deaths don’t slow down in Franklin County, Ohio, a temporary morgue may be needed to store the bodies.
The county has seen 23 overdose deaths from January 31 to February 7, Dr. Anahi Ortiz, the county’s coroner, said in a statement on her Facebook page. The next day, the county had five more.
Most of the deaths were likely due to fentanyl, Ortiz said.
Morgue techs are “constantly working [and] don’t take lunch” to keep up with the overdose deaths, the county coroner told CNN affiliate WSYX. If the overdose rate stays at the same pace or worsens, the county may have to bring in a temporary morgue for storage of bodies, Ortiz said.
Ortiz urged those in need of treatment to visit the city of Columbus’ opiate crisis information website.
The synthetic opioid, originally developed as an anesthetic for surgery, is the deadliest drug in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, and just .025 milligrams can be deadly.
While Franklin County usually has one or two overdose deaths in a day, Ortiz said on Facebook, one 26-hour period in September 2019 saw 10 people dying of overdoses.
That year, overdose deaths in the county were up 15% from the year before, and 90% were opiate related.
The rise comes in the midst of a joint Columbus-Franklin County plan, begun in 2017, to combat the opiate epidemic in the state that brought together first responders, law enforcement, mental health clinicians, consumers, family members and members of faith communities.
Among the plan’s 2019 goals were hospitals collaborating to provide other pain management options and providing resources to people with opiate use disorders as they are released from jail.
The opioid epidemic is a national problem. It is estimated that more than 130 people die every day in the US after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Drug makers and distributors have faced criticism for ignoring the science on opioid addiction risk and aggressively marketing prescription opioids. (Click to Source)

 

 

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Christians Boldly Share the Love of Christ on the Streets of China’s Coronavirus Hot Zone

Contributor – By Lorie Johnson – February 6, 2020

Roughly 350 Americans are arriving home from China after leaving the coronavirus hot zone, touching down in California where they’ll be quarantined. The evacuations come as the virus is still spreading, infecting more than 24,000 people. China admits nearly 500 people are dead from the virus, but the actual numbers are unverifiable.

At the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, surgical masks are being used in two ways to further the spread of the Gospel.

First, Christians wear the mask themselves as they talk about Jesus to people on the streets. This not only helps prevent disease, but can also prevent prosecution by the Chinese government since the masks help conceal a person’s identity.

There are an estimated 100 million Christians in China, who often face persecution in the Communist nation. For that reason, most operate underground.

Second, Chinese Christians are handing out masks to people on the street. Along with the masks, they’re also handing out Gospel tracts.

CBN News Asia Correspondent Lucille Talusan said since the people of Wuhan are facing fearful uncertainty in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, some have become more receptive to Christ at this time.

“There are Christians, a ministry in Wuhan, they go out to the streets. They’re very courageous,” she said. “They give out masks and they say that they are Christians and they share the love of Christ and point to Jesus to bring hope to them and their families and the whole of China… This is really a break-through.”

As the infection rate soars, Americans and other foreigners are evacuating. The 350 Americans who left Wuhan on two US State Department chartered airplanes landed at Travis Air Force base near San Francisco. The passengers from one of the planes will remain quarantined there for two weeks.   The other plane refueled and flew to Miramar Air Station in San Diego where they will remain quarantined for two weeks as well.

The evacuees will be housed in hotels on the military bases and will not have any contact with base personnel, according to the US Department of Defense.

Although the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb, the World Health Organization meeting Tuesday stopped short of declaring the epidemic a global pandemic. While the number of cases has spread to dozens of other countries, the outbreak is still largely confined to China, where the government there is taking extreme measures to contain the virus.

A hospital built in a mere 10 days cares for 1,000 patients and that’s not enough. A gymnasium and exhibition center have been converted into a temporary field hospital.

Chinese officials use drones to spray disinfectant and to speak to citizens through microphones on the drones, telling them to put on masks, go inside, or disperse from gatherings where the disease can spread.

Casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, are closed for at least two weeks.

Off the coast of Japan, 3,700 people aboard a cruise ship are quarantined on board after 10 tested positive for the virus.

The US and other countries have enacted stringent travel restrictions to and from China.

Health experts say the coronavirus appears milder than previously thought. The death rate hovers around 2% with the vast majority over age 60 with pre-existing health problems. And 700 people are confirmed to have fully recovered from the illness, approximately 200 more than the number of confirmed deaths.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of contracting the virus is low.  The first American to have been diagnosed with the virus, a man in his thirties in the Seattle area, was discharged from the hospital Monday. There are 10 other confirmed cases in the US and zero deaths. Nine of the US cases contracted the virus in Wuhan, the other two are their spouses.  (Click to Source)

 

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