Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism | Stuff.co.nz

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has entered shock guilty pleas, bringing relief to survivors and victims’ families.

Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the High Court at Christchurch on Thursday morning and admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

He’d previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was scheduled to stand trial on June 2.

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Fifty-one people died as a result of the March 15, 2019 attack.

Tarrant, who wore a grey prisoner sweater, was largely silent and emotionless throughout the hearing. He sat alone in a white room with a grey door at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, where he’s held in maximum security.

The terrorist’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared via video-link from another court room.

Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism via AVL in the Christchurch High Court.

The names of all 51 people killed were read to Tarrant, before he was asked how he pleaded to the murder charges.

He replied: “Yes, guilty.”

The same process was followed for the attempted murder charges.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF
Terrorist Brenton Tarrant pictured at his first court appearance, the day after the mosque shootings.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Tarrant in custody, but has not yet set a date for sentencing, when the summary of facts would be made public.

Few people knew of the special hearing, which was only scheduled late Wednesday, on the eve of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Six New Zealand journalists attended. Also in court were the imams from both targeted mosques. An-nur (Al Noor) imam Gamal Fouda was visibly upset as the guilty pleas were entered.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Mustafa Boztas still has a fragment of a bullet inside him.

The hearing concluded at 10.30am, but the judge suppressed the outcome for an hour to allow victims, who were unaware of the hearing, to be notified.

The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.

Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur.

Mander said both the Crown and defence asked to have the hearing expedited, despite the severe health restrictions.

The courts were considered an essential public service that was able to deal with “priority proceedings without compromising people’s health”.

The judge said he felt the court had the capacity to safely hear the matter by limiting the number of people in court. In total, 17 people were present.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflects on the last year following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

It was regrettable the Covid-19 restrictions prevented victims from attending, he said, but the imams had been asked to be present to bear witness to the proceedings.

“It was my assessment that taking the defendant’s pleas at this time was the appropriate course in the circumstances,” Mander said.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding, and I considered the need to take the opportunity to progress the matter was particularly acute coming as it has at a time when the risk of further delay as a result of Covid-19 was looming as realistic possibility.”

Mander said the defendant would not be sentenced before the court returned to normal operations.

The defendant had been remanded to a nominal date of May 1. It was hoped a sentencing date would be confirmed in the interim.

“It is fully anticipated that all who wish to attend court for the sentencing hearing will be able to do so in person.”  

On March 15 last year, Tarrant drove from his Dunedin home to Christchurch with an arsenal of guns and ammunition he’d amassed since moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2017.

The white supremacist entered Masjid An-nur (also known as the Al Noor Mosque) on Deans Ave as Friday prayers were beginning, about 1.40pm, and opened fire – killing and wounding dozens of people.

He then drove across town to the Linwood Mosque where he continued his shooting spree.

Tarrant was arrested a short time later after his car, a gold Subaru Outback, was rammed off the road by two police officers on Brougham St as he tried to make his way to a third target, though to be a mosque in Ashburton, where he planned to carry out another attack.

When police searched the vehicle they found several guns and petrol bombs.

NZ’S WORST MASS SHOOTING

In total, 51 people were killed in the terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting by an individual in New Zealand history.

Tarrant was the first person to be charged under NZ’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur, said he could not understand what caused Tarrant to change his plea.

“I’m both shocked and relieved. Shocked at the sudden change in plea, relieved that my family and I, along with other victims won’t have to relive it all through the courts.”

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said his immediate reaction was one of enormous relief and great gratitude.

“I think the victims will feel a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Our position has always been to let justice take its course, but a trial would have put a lot of pressure on our families. If you look at the anguish caused by the trial of Grace Millane’s killer you can see how bad it would be for 51 families.”

Mustafa Boztas, who lay on the ground inside the Masjid An-nur with a bullet in his leg, pretending to be dead, said from Turkey he always knew Tarrant would be found guilty. 

“I feel he basically played with our minds and emotionally upset us more for no reason.”

Boztas said he would have stayed in the country instead of going overseas if he’d known Tarrant was going to plead guilty. 

“While it can’t undo the damage it has brought upon our community and country, it gives me hope that this help bring not only justice but some closure to those touched by this event.

“To the families, I hope this brings you peace, and a sense that love can conquer hate. While this closes the criminal proceedings for the shootings, please know there is still a long way to go in recovery for some of us, so thank you for your continued support.”

Yasir Amin, whose father 67-year-old Muhammad Amin Nasir was shot in the back by the gunman shooting from his car, said the guilty pleas were good news.

“It’s good to avoid a trial because we would be reminded of everything, every day of the six week trial. We’ve avoided that mental torture and we’re not in a situation where the outcome is not 100 per cent sure.”

Nasir was to undergo another operation on Monday but the operation was postponed due to Covid-19 measures. He had spent two months in hospital after the shootings and had another 20-day stay in December.

“He is now doing well. He goes for walks and eats well.”

Just about every organ in his father’s body except his heart had been damaged by the shotgun pellets, Amin said.

Nasir was shot about 200 metres from the mosque on Deans Ave. The gunman drove past Amin and his father, who were walking to the mosque along the footpath, when he aimed a shotgun at them from his car. Both ran for their lives but Nasir was shot. Their plight was captured by a motel CCTV camera. 

‘HE’S GOT TO PAY THE TIME’

Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, had no idea about the plea until called by Stuff.

“I feel sorry he did the crime, but he’s got to pay the time now.”

She declined to comment further.

Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.

“We’re pleased victims no longer have to face the trauma of the trial.”

The victims had shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of a heart-breaking, shocking and senseless tragedy, Tso said.

“They have our utmost respect and promise that we will be here for them for as long as they need us.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the pleas were a “significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days”.

“I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever. They have inspired all of us to be a kind and more tolerant community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were “shattered” on March 15.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

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Mums have their say on the best hospitals to give birth at in the North East – see how yours fared – Chronicle Live

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Two North East hospitals have been voted among the best places in England to give birth as the region once again outperformed the rest of the country in a survey of new mothers.

The annual maternity services poll – which asked 17,151 women about their experiences of pregnancy and birth – found an improvement in the standard of care offered to new mothers on NHS wards nationally.

The poll, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), showed many women saying positive things about their care during pregnancy and birth, but a poorer experience of care postnatally.

Results published on Tuesday, January 28, showed that a fifth of new mothers were not told how to access help if their mental health were to decline after giving birth and more than one in 10 (12%) were not warned about any changes they might experience to their mental health after having their baby.

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Sunderland Royal Hospital was the best performing nationally with the most positive responses to the survey (88%) when compared to all other trusts and a national average of 78%.

And the Newcastle upon Tyne upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Victoria Infirmary, was the only trust to be rated ‘better than expected’ in all three main categories – labour and birth, staff during labour and birth, and care in hospital after the birth.

Gateshead, Northumbria Healthcare (which covers Northumberland and North Tyneside) and County Durham and Darlington trusts scored ‘about the same’ as other trusts overall.

There was no data available for South Tyneside due to the size of the maternity unit.

The poll was among women who gave birth in February 2019.

Sunderland Royal Hospital

High-scoring categories for City Hospitals Sunderland included 9.8/10 of women saying they were treated with respect and dignity during labour and birth and 9.8/10 who said they were spoken to during labour in a way they could understand.

Newcastle’s highest scoring categories for the Royal Victoria Infirmary were also ‘respect and dignity’ (9.8/10) and partners being involved as much as they wanted (9.8/10).

The Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, scored 9.7/10 for partners being as involved as they wanted and for clear communication.

QE Gateshead scored 9.9/10 for partner involvement and 9.3/10 for both skin to skin contact after birth, and the cleanliness of the ward.

County Durham and Darlington were rated ‘better’ than other trusts in the country for confidence and trust in staff (9.5/10) and receiving the information and explanations they needed after the birth (8.6/10).

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Stella Wilson, directorate manager for women’s services, at Newcastle Hospitals, said: “We’re delighted to see such wonderful feedback from the National Maternity Survey.

“Patient feedback is one of the best ways for us to measure the quality of our maternity services and in addition to these fantastic results and through our Maternity Voices Partnership, we actively seek the views of all women across Newcastle who have been in our care.”

Sheila Ford, head of midwifery at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “To be rated nationally as the best performing Trust in the whole country is absolutely fantastic news for the team and shows that local mams are receiving the very best maternity care right here in Sunderland.

“This is testament to the hard work of our maternity team and shows the level of care, dedication and compassion that our staff show to all of the families who choose to deliver with us and I am extremely proud to be part of such a wonderful team.

“There are, of course, areas where we must improve further and we will be looking at the results in detail, alongside other sources of feedback to the Trust, to make sure we continue to listen, learn and continue to develop the very best maternity services for local women in our area.”

Lesley Heelbeck head of midwifery at Gateshead Health said: “In Gateshead we have a really enthusiastic and committed team so it’s good to see such positive ratings from the CQC. Mothers and families are central to developing the services here at Gateshead so we’re always looking at ways we can improve.

“We’ve developed our maternity voices partnerships so that we can talk to local people and listen to their views more closely. Because we’re a smaller unit we aim to provide much more personal and individual care to everyone who comes here to give birth.

“We want as many local people as possible to come here and start their family with us and we aim to improve even further in the future.”

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Pregnancy, labour and childbirth are one of the most important experiences women have and we’re delighted to have received this excellent feedback from women in the care of our maternity services.

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, Northumberland

“In particular, we’re proud that in six categories our score was higher than for most trusts across the country.

“These include the number of women who said they had confidence and trust in those caring for them during labour and birth and the number of women who said their decisions about how they wanted to feed their baby were respected.

“We’re also delighted that we scored above the national average for the number of women reporting that a midwife or health visitor asked them about their mental health.”

Jenna Wall, head of midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Providing our families with the best possible experience while having a baby with us is one of our top priorities and we welcome the feedback from the national maternity survey.

“We are pleased that during labour and birth women felt they were communicated with in a way they could understand, they were treated with respect and dignity and they had confidence and trust in the staff caring for them.

“It is also great that we have scored highly on facilitating skin to skin contact with the baby shortly after birth, involving partners and enabling them to stay as long as they want at our Northumbria hospital.

“These results are testament to our hard-working teams and I’d like to thank them for the dedication and compassion they show to women and their partners at this special time.

“We will, however, continually strive to do even better for our families and further improve the care during and after the birth of a baby.”

See how your trust scored here and how it compared nationally to other trusts:

City Hospitals Sunderland (South Tyneside & Sunderland)

Labour and birth – 9.2/10 – About the same

Staff – 9.3/10 – Better

Care in hospital after the birth – 9.0/10 – Better

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Labour and birth – 8.9/10 – About the same

Staff – 8.8/10 – About the same

Care in hospital after the birth – 7.6/10 – About the same

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

Labour and birth – 8.8/10 – About the same

Staff – 8.6/10 – About the same

Care in hospital after the birth – 7.8/10 – About the same

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Labour and birth – 8.9/10 – About the same

Staff – 8.8/10 – About the same

Care in hospital after the birth – 7.8/10 – About the same

The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Labour and birth – 9.4/10 – Better

Staff – 9.3/10 – Better

Care in hospital after the birth – 8.5/10 – Better

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Las Cruces Tasing leads to death on 3 Crosses Avenue

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Las Cruces man fleeing police dies after being Tased

Damien Willis
Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 12:02 PM EST Mar 1, 2020

LAS CRUCES – Police say a man who fled from officers following a traffic stop died after being Tased by officers. 

The New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau, with the assistance of the Doña Ana County Officer-Involved Incident Task Force, was called to investigate an officer-involved incident involving a male and the Las Cruces Police Department

State Police agents learned that on Feb. 29, at approximately 2:32 a.m., an LCPD officer conducted a traffic stop on a blue GMC pickup for expired insurance at 240 3 Crosses Ave. in Las Cruces. During the traffic stop, the LCPD officer observed two females inside the vehicle and a man sitting in the back seat not wearing a seatbelt.

The man was identified as Antonio Valenzuela, 40, of Las Cruces. During an inquiry through the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority, the officer learned Valenzuela had a valid bench warrant for his arrest from New Mexico Probation and Parole. The officer asked Valenzuela to exit the vehicle, at which time he fled on foot and a foot pursuit ensued.

Police conduct an investigation near the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 240 3 Crosses Ave. on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Nathan J Fish/Sun-News

Two LCPD officers who were assisting on the traffic stop also assisted in the foot pursuit. During the foot pursuit, one officer deployed his department-issued Taser. Officers were able to gain control and handcuff Valenzuela, who police say was “being combative.”

For local news that matters, subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News today.

After Valenzuela was handcuffed, officers noticed he was unresponsive.

Officers immediately called for emergency medical services. Valenzuela was pronounced dead at the scene by the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigator.

The case is still under investigation by the NMSP Investigations Bureau, according to an agency news release. The cause and manner of Valenzuela’s death are under investigation by the Office of the Medical Investigator.

The names of the officers involved will not be released by NMSP until interviews have been conducted, the agency said.

Following a thorough investigation, the case will be sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review. 

Damien Willis is a Lead Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, dwillis@lcsun-news.com or @DamienWillis on Twitter.

Related reading:

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China’s coronavirus death toll reaches 1,770 – World – TASS

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BEIJING, February 17. /TASS/. The number of people who died from the novel coronavirus in China has reached 1,770, more than 70,500 cases of the disease have been confirmed, while more than 10,800 people are said to have recovered from it, China’s health committee reported Monday.

On Sunday, the committee informed about more than 68,500 cases, 1,665 deaths and 9,419 recovered. According to the data update, the official coronavirus death rate is now standing at 2.5% compared to Sunday’s 2.43%

Among China’s regions, the Hubei Province has the most cases with 58,100 people identified to have contracted coronavirus, 1,696 of them dead and 6,639 recoveries. Hubei is followed by the Guangdong Province (south China) with 1,300 infections, the Henan Province (central China) and the Zhejiang Province (east China) which report 1,200 and 1,100 cases respectively.

According to data available on Sunday, there are 381 coronavirus cases in Beijing, 144 of them were discharged from hospitals, while four people died.

According to the latest official reports, more than 150,500 Chinese citizens are monitored in the country because they had close contacts with those who are known to have contracted the disease. China also says there are about 7,200 people placed in quarantine because of coronavirus fears. According to doctors, more than 10,600 people are in critical condition.

A pneumonia outbreak caused by the COVID-19 virus (previously called 2019-nCoV) was reported in China’s city of Wuhan – a large trade and industrial center in central China populated by 11 million people – in late December. The WHO declared it a global emergency, describing the outbreak as an epidemic with multiple foci.

The virus spread to 25 more countries, apart from China: Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam. The WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak in China a global health emergency. Chinese authorities have confirmed more than 68,500 cases of the disease, over 1,665 people died, while more than 9,400 people are reported to have recovered.

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From Near Death Experience To Top Of Her Class

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The induction of Shrdha Mala as the new head girl of Rakiraki Public Secondary School has got people talking.

Shrdha, 18, who has had a history of heart problems, is not only a student body leader but is also a top academic student, as well.

In 2014 she survived a near-death experience.

She suffered severe chest pain and acute breathing difficulties. Shrdha thought she was going to die.

She was flown to New Zealand and successfully underwent an emergency laser treatment.

Kalidass Mani, a farmworker, said Shrdha “is an inspiration to everyone and a very strong girl.”

Mr Mani said he knew her family and how they struggled after she was diagnosed with a heart defect in 2008. Shrdha was in year two then.

“She is a fighter. Others may have given up after what she went through. But not Shrdha,” he said.

Her mathematics teacher, Ashneel Raju, said Shrdha kept up her maths study despite her condition.

Ravi Chand, her school principal, said Shrdha was among the students who never gave up.

“She has inspired the students and the teachers with her excellent performance and is tackling her challenges very well,” he said.

He said Shrdha was an example to many students who did not do well in their studies as she was good in managing her time with school work and with leadership.

She has made the school and her parents proud by excelling in her education despite her challenges.

Shrdha said her battle was not over yet, but she was not allowing it to slow her down.

She has some breathing issues and she still fights to tackle the challenge and to become an inspiration to others.

Shrdha’s experience has motivated her to become a cardiologist to treat people like her and to show them that nothing is impossible.

She said if anyone had health or medical problems, they could still fight their battles and chase their dreams.

Shrdha topped the Fiji Year 12 Certificate Examination last year and she is looking forward to top this year and become the dux at her school.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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Olympic officials shoot down cancellation rumours amid coronavirus outbreak | Stuff.co.nz

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Tokyo Olympic organisers are trying to shoot down rumours that this year’s 2020 Games might be cancelled or postponed because of the spread of a new virus.

Japan has so far reported no deaths from the coronavirus that has killed more than 200 people in China. Japanese organisers have hesitated to say much for several days, but on Friday they addressed the rumours. So did the International Olympic Committee, which also has said little.

Olympic organisers have finally addressed rumours that the Tokyo Games could be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The Olympics open on July 24, just under six months away.

“We have never discussed cancelling the games,” Tokyo organisers said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with the IOC and relevant organisations and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary.”

READ MORE:
* Coronavirus: How does NZ compare? 

* Coronavirus dooms Winter X Games 
* McCaw understands Olympics pressure 

Rumours of a cancellation have spread in Japan with reports that the Swiss-based IOC has met with the World Health Organisation about the outbreak. The WHO has called the virus a global emergency.

“Preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned,” the IOC said in a statement. “It is normal practice for the IOC to collaborate with all the main UN agencies, as necessary, in the lead up to the games and this naturally includes the WHO.”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, speaking earlier in the week to the heads of 62 municipalities, warned about the dangers. Japan has also urged citizens not to travel to China.

“We must firmly tackle the new coronavirus to contain it, or we are going to regret it,” she said.

Rumours have spread online with thousands of comments on Twitter under the hashtag in Japanese “Tokyo Olympic Cancelled”.

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus, is pressing ahead with the construction of two purpose-built hospitals.

The IOC has faced challenges like this before, and carries insurance for such possibilities. It has cancelled Olympics during wartime, and faced boycotts in 1980 and 1984. It also held the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City just months after the 9-11 attacks in the United States.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus also cast a shadow over the run-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The larger problem for the Olympics could come with qualifying events in China and elsewhere being cancelled or postponed. International federations will have to reschedule events and Chinese athletes could present extra challenges and screening.

World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, announced earlier in the week it was postponing the world indoor championships in Nanjing, China, until next year. The event had been scheduled for March 13-15.

Travel, screening and allaying fears are certain to be more complicated if the outbreak continues. The 11,000 athletes expected to compete at the Tokyo Olympics will also face pressure to stay safe.

Sponsors and television networks who have invested billions of dollars will also try to keep the games on track.

Demand for Olympic tickets in Japan is unprecedented, exceeding supply by at least 10 times. Organisers say 7.8 million tickets are being issued for the Olympics.

Organisers say they are spending about US$12.6 billion to put on the games. But a national audit bureau says the costs are twice that much.

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Coronavirus spreads to more than 800 in China: First death outside epicentre | Stuff.co.nz

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China’s National Health Commission said Friday afternoon (NZ time) the confirmed cases of the new coronavirus had risen to 830 with 25 deaths.

The first death was also confirmed outside the central province of Hubei, where the capital, Wuhan, has been the epicentre of the outbreak.

The health commission in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing, said an 80-year-old man died after returning from a two-month stay in Wuhan to see relatives.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or people with connections the city. Other cases have been confirmed in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore and Vietnam reported their first cases Thursday, and cases have also been confirmed in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Many countries are screening travellers from China for symptoms of the virus, which can cause fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

The World Health Organisation has decided against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, a step that can bring more money and resources to fight a threat but that can also cause trade and travel restrictions and other economic damage, making the decision a politically fraught one.

The decision “should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we’re not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that originate in animals before making the jump to humans.

Chinese authorities moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.

Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns of the cities will last. While sweeping measures are typical of China’s Communist Party-led government, large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, even in deadly epidemics, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties. And the effectiveness of such measures is unclear.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO”s representative in China. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”

GETTY IMAGES
People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.

“Until there’s a better understanding of what the situation is, I think it’s not an unreasonable thing to do,” he said. “Anything that limits people’s travels during an outbreak would obviously work.”

But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. He added: “You have to make sure you communicate effectively about why this is being done. Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people.”

GETTY IMAGES
A resident wears a mask to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan.

During the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone imposed a national three-day quarantine as health workers went door to door, searching for hidden cases. Burial teams collecting corpses and people taking the sick to Ebola centres were the only ones allowed to move freely. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages.

In China, the illnesses from the newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub. Local authorities demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged civil servants wear them at work.

After the city was closed off Thursday, images showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, as people stocked up. Trucks carrying supplies into the city are not being restricted, although many Chinese recall shortages in the years before the country’s recent economic boom.

Analysts predicted cases will continue to multiply, although the jump in numbers is also attributable in part to increased monitoring.

KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
A Chinese passenger that just arrived on the last bullet train from Wuhan to Beijing is checked for a fever by a health worker at a Beijing railway station.

“Even if (cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of infected is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity so long as the death rate remains low.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which is thought to have originated from camels.

China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts. This time, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasised that as a priority.

Health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, now closed for an investigation. Experts suspect that the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but that it may also be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.

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BREAKING: Three burnt to death, houses, vehicles destroyed by Abule Egba, Lagos pipeline fire » Latest News » Tribune Online

BREAKING: Three burnt to death, houses, vehicles destroyed by Abule Egba, Lagos pipeline fire

No fewer than three persons including a boy were burnt to death on Sunday, in Lagos by the oil pipeline fire that engulfed the Abule Egba area of the state.

Several others who sustained various degrees of injuries have been rushed to an undisclosed hospital for medical attention.

Many residential houses and vehicles mostly trailers parked along the pipeline area were also burnt by the wild fire which was reportedly caused by the activities of the vandals who were stealing fuel from the government-owned pipeline.

This incident was not the first in the area as a similar one happened at a nearby Awori community just last year and a preceding one which left hundreds of residents dead in 2009.

It was, however confirmed that three people were lost to the current fire. Two of them, male residents were said to have just returned from a trip and were sleeping inside their trailers when the fire caught up with them.

The boy among them was in one of the nearby shops sleeping with his parents but reportedly ran for safety when the fire caught up with him and killed him.

All the three dead bodies were seen kept inside a Lagos State Emergency Health Service pick-up van at exactly 12:15 a.m. to be deposited at the morgue.

Tribune Online correspondent at the scene of the incident counted more than 10 houses along the pipeline and linking Ahmed Sodiq Street including houses No 4 and 8 jumping No 6 as well as more than eight trailers – some with containers, that got burnt by the fire, many of them to rubble.

As of 1.20 a.m., fire fighters were still battling to quench the remaining raging fire.

The major fire on the pipeline right from the hole dug to steal the fuel down to the adjoining Ahmed Sodiq Street, had, however, been put out.

Nevertheless, fire fighter officials from both the Federal and Lagos State government fire service were still at the scene of the incident.

Members of police force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as well as the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority ( LASEMA) were also on ground.

Many of them refused to be quoted by when interrogated as their seniors who had earlier got to the scene had left.

Even a senior official from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC), owner of the pipeline, on ground also refused to speak when approached for comments.

The tall man who it was learnt is in charge of the Southwest zone of the corporation, said “I just arrived and I am not for journalists for now.”

After then, he led a team to inspect damage done to the pipelines by the vandals.

However, one of the fire fighters from the Federal Fire Service from Apapa, a distance of about 20 kilometres apart, Mr Okon Udoh, said his team and other colleagues from the state government would keep vigil at the scene to prevent the fire from spreading if ignited again.

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READ IN FULL: Parktown Boys’ High School releases statement following death of pupil at orientation camp

person

Parktown Boys’ High School have released a statement outlining its version on the turn of events at a Grade 8 orientation camp where a 13-year-old pupil died.

Enoch Mpianzi’s body was found on Friday after he went missing during a water activity at the camp.

He was last seen on Wednesday when a makeshift raft he and other boys were on, overturned on the Crocodile River.

In a statement posted in the school’s Facebook Page, the school said the camp was aimed at introducing the new Parktonians to one another and creating an environment that focused on teamwork and achieving of common goals through various activities.

Here is the full, unedited statement:

The Parktown Boys’ High School Grade 8 Orientation Camp took place at Nyathi Bush and River Break in the North West Province. The Grade 8 group arrived at camp on Wednesday the 15th of January. The camp is aimed at introducing new Parktonians to each other and creating an environment which focuses on team work and the achieving of common goals through various activities offered at the camp.

The school’s Headboy, Deputy Headboy and SEC members along with 7 staff members were also present on the camp along with the Headmaster, Malcolm Williams and a Senior Child Development and Protection Consultant, Luke Lamprecht.

In the afternoon the boys were involved in a water activity that was supervised by trained camp facilitators. After the activity there was a hike and supper, followed by a sleep out in the veld.

ALSO READ | Parktown Boys’ High tragedy: Gauteng Education Department launches own investigation

Late on Thursday morning, it became apparent that a boy had gone missing from the camp. Internal emergency procedures were immediately instituted by camp management, staff and members of the community. The Headmaster contacted the father to alert him to staff concerns.

At 15h20 the Headmaster again contacted the father to confirm that all efforts to locate Enock had failed and shortly thereafter transport was arranged to take the family to the venue. Two trained counsellors from the school accompanied the family.

By this time the SAPS Emergency Services had already been called, including the Search and Rescue unit who at the point assumed control of the search.

On Thursday evening the decision was made to curtail all camp activities for the Friday and return the boys to school following breakfast and a briefing by the Headmaster and the Senior Child Development and Protection Consultant.

At 11h00 on Friday the school was informed of the tragic news that the body of Enock Mpianzi had been found by SAPS Search and Rescue personnel.

The Staff, Learners, SGB, and the Parktonian Alumni express their deepest sympathy to the Mpianzi family following this tragic loss. The school community remains in a state of shock and counselling support has been implemented.The Alumni of the school have committed to support the family where possible.

Further details will be communicated once more information becomes available.

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Our close shave with death

James Azania, Lokoja

Uneasy calm has taken over the atmosphere in and around Tawari, a community in Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State, one week after a deadly attack by unidentified gunmen.

While those who survived the penultimate Friday morning attack continued to bemoan the gruesome killings of families by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, the unspoken thought that appeared to be playing out in the minds of the people remains, how safe are we?

About 20 persons reportedly died in the hands of the gunmen that descended on Tawari community that early morning. They were believed to be herdsmen.

Buildings, including the palace of the local chief, were razed.

But, despite the confidence-building visits by the governor and his deputy to the affected areas and other near places, some of those who survived remained shaken by the bloody attack.

Governor Yahaya Bello during a visit to the Ohimege-Igu of Koto-Karfe, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isah Koto, at his palace last Sunday, said that his administration will do everything to stand by and ensure immediate assistance to the victims of the attack at Tawari.

Bello’s visit came a day after his deputy, Edward Onoja, was at the community for an on-the-spot assessment. The governor pledged his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the attackers are fished out and made to face justice.

He enjoined all to remain calm, assuring that his government will not relent in its efforts to protect the lives and property of the people of the state.

He described the attack as barbaric, inhuman, dastardly and unwanted. He also assured that his administration will do everything to stand by them, noting that both the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), will provide them with timely supports.

A week after, some of those who spoke with The Nation on their experiences, aside seeking the unmasking of the perpetrators or those behind it appeared uneasy about security.Abuja

Mallam Orege(not real name)said he lost two brothers and three other family members in the attack.He was, however, indifferent to all official talks, saying that if he had his way, those who carried out the attack will be made to face justice.

“My position is that those who carried out this action should be apprehended, and it should be immediately. People cannot just come and attack others, killing and burning their houses and then just disappear like that. It will be great injustice if the security people don’t arrest them and charge them accordingly.

“I lost five of my family members; they were killed; my direct brothers. Three others of my larger family were similarly killed”.

Others who spoke to our correspondent included Attoh Ifeji(not real name),  a local hunter, who identified  security as their major worries and what he described as “the distant presence of government to us”.

According to him, police presence in Tawani could have waded off the night of horror.

“Those gunmen came in unannounced and  there was no security to challenge them. They killed our people and committed other atrocities. What do you say if you don’t have security to defend you? We don’t have a defence at all.

“There should be more police and government’s presence here in Tawari so that this type of thing won’t happen again.”

A recent killing of four suspected kidnappers, alleged to be herdsmen, along the Lokoja-Abuja highway by security agencies, following a tip off by vigilantes from Tawari community, was said to have angered the militia, who in turn attacked the community.

Another account said that sometime last year, a herdsman was allegedly killed and his body mutilated by suspected ritualists.  His fellow herdsmen were believed to have pointed accusing fingers at the Tawari community.All

But, following persistent persuasion by the community head, Alhaji Yahaya Tawari, against a reprisal, the herdsmen appeared to have forgotten about the whole thing. So the people thought until a few days later  when they started moving out of the community enmasse. This action was a presage to trouble.

Efforts were, therefore, said to have been made to pacify them, but  the herdsmen reportedly assured that their movement was a way of life, assuring that it bore no ulterior motives, only for gunmen to swoop on the community.

The Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja, during the visit, assured that no stone would be left unturned in unravelling the penetrators.

He described the attack as very unusual and a call for concern, saying that the seriousness which Governor Bello attaches to unravelling the penetrators as well as the need to bring succour and support to the affected areas underscored his visit to the community.

He assured that the state government will begin a rehabilitation and reconstruction process of the area.

He urged the residents not to leave their homes but  remain resolute.

The council administrator, Muhammed Tanko, said that the situation had been brought under normalcy.

He noted that the presence of security agencies brought hope to the people of the community as those who ran away during the attack have started returning home.

He commended Governor Bello for his quick response during the attack, adding that those who sustained injuries were responding to treatment at the Federal Medical Center and the Specialist Hospital Lokoja.

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