Global Briefs: Tropical fever hitches ride to Cuba | WORLD
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Global Briefs: Tropical fever hitches ride to Cuba

Oropouche fever, transmitted by mosquitoes and midges, causes symptoms similar to dengue

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Global Briefs: Tropical fever hitches ride to Cuba
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Fact Box Source: The World Factbook-CIA


The island nation has registered its first cases of Oropouche fever amid unprecedented outbreaks in several other Latin American countries. Transmitted by midges and Culex mosquitoes, the virus historically had been limited to the Amazon region. But health officials have confirmed more than 5,000 infections since the year began, raising the possibility of a growing regional epidemic. The virus causes symptoms similar to dengue fever and is generally not fatal. The Pan American Health Organization issued an alert in early May calling member states to “bolster measures … and personal protection for populations at higher risk.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also added a health caution on June 5 for people traveling across the Americas. Cuba is the fifth country to report cases, and the farthest north that the virus has been detected so far. —Carlos Páez


The country’s president, Gabriel Boric, announced his plans to legalize abortion during a public address to the nation on June 1. Boric claimed that “women in Chile deserve their right to choose.” Abortions were illegal in Chile until 2017 and are currently allowed only under special circumstances. The proposed legislation would also accelerate efforts to legalize euthanasia. But a conservative majority currently controls both houses of Congress, and only 32 percent of Chileans support unrestricted abortions. Opposition leader José Antonio Kast responded to Boric’s announcement by promising to “always defend life.” Kast criticized what he called an attempt to swap “real social urgencies for ideology.” Three quarters of all Latin American countries still restrict abortion. —Carlos Páez

Shavkat Mirziyoyev (right) and Vladimir Putin

Shavkat Mirziyoyev (right) and Vladimir Putin Sergei Bobylev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo via AP


President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Russian President Vladimir Putin have signed an accord that allows Russia to build a nuclear reactor in this landlocked country of 35.6 million people. Putin promised to send more gas and oil to the country and inject $400 million into a joint investment fund to build Central Asia’s first nuclear reactor, expanding Moscow’s influence in the region. The plans, signed May 27, include up to six reactors with a combined capacity of 330 megawatts. Before Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991, its mines supplied much of the Soviet Union’s uranium. Now it exports most of its uranium to the U.S. and elsewhere. Uzbekistan is fifth in the world for uranium production. —Amy Lewis


The East African country won a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, marking the nation’s first time on the council since the 1970s. Tensions between the council’s five permanent members—Britain, France, Russia, China, and the U.S.—have risen in recent years, putting more pressure on the 10 elected nations to draft proposals and balance votes. Civil war has wracked Somalia for over 30 years, and the Security Council just lifted a long-standing arms embargo against it in December 2023. But UN advisers said Somalia’s experience fighting al-Shabaab terrorists would prove useful. In a June 6 election, the UN General Assembly awarded Somalia its Security Council seat, where it will serve for two years. Other new members include Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, and Panama. —Elizabeth Russell


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will offer a dating app as early as this summer to encourage marriage and childbirth, an official said on June 4. The government previously launched a website called “Tokyo Futari Story” that provides citizens with information on dating and marriage. “Futari” in Japanese means couples. While Tokyo City Hall has not confirmed the app’s specifics, Japanese media reported the program would require users to submit details, including tax records, and sign a form declaring they are ready to get married. Last year in Japan, the number of births dropped to an all-time low of 727,277, and the country’s fertility rate is only 1.2 children per woman. The number of marriages also fell to 474,717, down from 504,930 in 2022. —Joyce Wu

Maia Sandu

Maia Sandu Fabian Sommer/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP


President Maia Sandu on June 10 signed into law controversial changes to the country’s statutes governing treason. The changes create a new category of crime for assisting a foreign state, lengthen prison terms, and apply certain wartime treason laws to peacetime as well. Sandu’s supporters say the change is needed to fight organized crime. But her political opponents and Amnesty International say the changes are open to abuse. “This new definition of high treason could be used to target political dissent and critical voices under the guise of countering malevolent foreign influence,” said Veaceslav Tofan, executive director of Amnesty International Moldova. Sandu supports Ukraine and has made joining the European Union a priority, angering pro-Russian factions in her country. —Emma Freire


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