I, Science News – 4 Feb 2019

First up, the European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s drug regulator, is preparing to leave its UK headquarters as a result of Brexit. The official relocation will take place on the 1st March, and the agency expects to lose around 25% of its 900 employees who do not want to or are not able to make the move. As a result some activities, such as requests for information, developing e-submissions for drug applications and corporate governance support will be reduced or temporarily suspended.

Next, at least 65 people are dead and nearly 300 are missing after a mining dam collapsed in South-Eastern Brazil on 25 January. The torrent of mud and water released by the dam travelled more than 60 kilometres, destroying everything in its path. The catastrophe comes just 3 years after the collapse of a similar mining dam in nearby. The latest incident has raised urgent questions about the safety of hundreds of dams in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which is the centre of the country’s mining industry.

And finally, last week the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control declared an outbreak of Lassa fever, a potentially lethal viral haemorrhagic disease. The agency confirmed 136 cases of the illness, including 31 deaths, between 1 and 20 January. Cases of Lassa fever typically surge during Nigeria’s dry season, which usually runs from October to April, but the number this January is unusually high. Nigeria’s worst Lassa-fever outbreak on record ran from January to September 2018 and involved 514 cases, including 134 deaths.

This week’s news was written and presented by Madeleine Openshaw, who is studying for a MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

Banner image: Sunrise Dam open pit, Wikimedia

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