Jan 3, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Animal health officials in Israel today notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) of an H5 avian influenza outbreak at a site near Haifa, and media outlets are reporting that final tests have confirmed the virus is the lethal H5N1subtype.Eighteen of 20 chickens at a petting zoo adjacent to a kindergarten in the city of Binyamina in northern Israel were found dead this morning, reported Xinhua, China’s state news agency.Shmuel Rishpon, a Haifa district physician, said the kindergarten staff has been given preventive medicine and authorities believe none of the children or parents had contact with the birds.According to the OIE report, only chickens at the zoo were struck by the virus. Eight ducks and four pigeons were also housed with the chickens in a small enclosure.Polymerase chain reaction testing at Israel’s national laboratory at Kimron Veterinary Institute on samples from the infected birds were positive for the H5 serotype, but neuraminidase inhibition assay tests were pending, the OIE report said.However, the agriculture ministry said today the birds had the lethal H5N1 strain, according to the Jerusalem Post. Israel’s agriculture ministry received final test results from its department of veterinary services, indicating the birds had the H5N1 subtype, Globes Online, an Israeli business media outlet, reported today.The remaining birds were destroyed, and health officials placed a 3-kilometer protection zone and a 10-kilometer surveillance zone around the outbreak area, said the OIE report.Israel’s last H5N1 outbreak, which hit domestic poultry, occurred in March 2006, according to reports from the UN Food and Animal Organization (FAO). No human H5N1 cases or deaths have been reported in Israel.Elsewhere, animal health officials in Vietnam said the H5N1 virus killed 350 white-winged ducks in northern Vietnam’s Thai Nguyen province, according to a Reuters report today. The outbreak occurred at a farm in 2-month-old ducks. Animal health workers culled the remaining birds, the report said.The H5N1 virus also struck ducks and chickens in Tra Vinh province in southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Reuters reported.Officials in Bangladesh yesterday said the H5N1 virus was detected on a poultry farm in Dinajpur in the northern part of the country, prompting the culling of 300 chickens, according to another Reuters report.In other developments, the state media in Myanmar on Dec 29 reported an outbreak of the H5N1 virus in chickens in a village near the Myanmar border with Thailand, the Associated Press (AP) reported.The New Light of Myanmar, the state-run newspaper, said the outbreak occurred in a village in Shan state among domestic chickens and was reported to livestock officials on Dec 23, according to the AP report.See also:OIE reports on Israeli avian flu outbreakFAO update on H5N1 in birds
An enhanced transfer value exercise – designed to make it more attractive for members to take their full benefits out of the scheme and into another arrangement – was also carried out, with members given access to free financial advice.The two measures helped reduce the final cost of the buyout transaction, according to Aon, which advised PA Consulting on all aspects of the deal.Ben Roe, head of the member options team at Aon, said the deal was “a first in the market and has proved to be a genuine win-win for all parties”.“Members have had the opportunity to take advice on an option that may not be available at this level again in the future,” Roe said. “It was a key element in the process of a successful full buyout.”John Baines, head of bulk annuities at Aon, said: “Securing this transaction at a much lower cost than anticipated at the start of this journey is an outstanding result. The innovative structure to integrate member options within an insurance transaction allowed attractive terms to be locked in much more quickly than normal.“The ability to achieve this in a Solvency II environment is particularly pleasing, and following a relatively quiet year for large full scheme transactions in 2017, looks set to lead the way for many similar deals in a bumper 2018.”Kully Janjuah, director and company secretary of PA Consulting, said the firm had put in “significant time and effort” to secure the pension scheme, aided by private equity firm The Carlyle Group, which owns 51% of the company’s shares.De-risking spike predicted as schemes approach full fundingMeanwhile, Mitul Magudia, head of business development at PIC, said his company had “a strong pipeline of business ahead”.“As things stand, we see it being a record year for the bulk annuity market with more than £20bn worth of buy-ins and buyouts expected in total,” he added.UK schemes have been urged to consider de-risking as they have approached full funding in aggregate, according to new data from JLT Employee Benefits.The pensions consultancy estimated that UK private sector DB schemes were 98% funded at the end of June, with combined assets of £1.57trn and liabilities of £1.61trn.Murray Wright, deputy chief actuary at JLT Employee Benefits, said higher corporate bond yields and “solid” equity markets had boosted funds, but warned: “A bull market that is almost 10 years old can’t be relied upon to keep delivering results.”He estimated that schemes reaching full funding now needed to earn an annual return of less than 3% in order to pay benefits as they fell due.“Pension schemes that are ahead of schedule on their funding plans should actively seek to minimise their reliance on the sponsor through an integrated funding and investment strategy linked to expected scheme cash flows and at the same time de-risk their liabilities,” Wright added. Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) has backed an £850m (€960.4m) buyout of the pension scheme of UK consultancy group PA Consulting.The specialist insurance group agreed to take on responsibility for the pensions of roughly 2,400 members of the PA Pension Scheme.The full buyout meant PIC insured £3.2bn worth of liabilities from UK defined benefit (DB) pension funds in the first half of this year, an increase of 68% on the first half of 2017.Alongside the buyout, the company also undertook a pension increase exercise, which involves offering members an initial uplift in their annual pension payments at the expense of future inflation-linked increases.
La Grange Police attempted murder-suicideBy Vanhu ManikchandA Police Constable took his own life on Tuesday evening after shooting his girlfriend, also a Police rank, following an argument during which he reportedly accused her of being unfaithful.Dead is 20-year-old Constable 22834 Clement Cockfield, of Friendship, East Coast Demerara; while woman Constable 23464 Shanice Fraser, 21, of Lot 28 Middle Street, Pouderoyen, West Bank Demerara, is currently in a critical condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC).The incident occurred sometime around 08:30h at the La Grange Police Station,Dead: Constable Clement Cockfieldwhere the couple was stationed. Fraser, who has a two-year-old daughter, was reportedly shot four times to her upper body – once to her back, shoulder, arm and throat – while Cockfield shot himself once to the head.Guyana Times understands that the couple has been together for approximately six months and recently, they were having troubles in the relationship.“They were starting to get a lil talking now and then….because he was a very jealous person. He never used to want she talk to people, go out without him…,” Fraser’s aunt, Rennet Layers, told this newspaper.According to Police reports, the two Constables worked different shifts at the La Grange Station and on Tuesday night, Cockfield reported for anti-crime patrol duty and uplifted a .38 service revolver with six rounds, while Fraser had just completed a tour of duty.A few minutes later, they were seen on the stairway of the Police station and gunshots were subsequently heard.It was reported that Fraser ran down the stairs into the yard and was seen bleeding profusely. She was assisted by other ranks on duty when Cockfield pursued her and discharged more shots at her.Fraser attempted to escape the enraged man but collapsed in the station’s compound. The Police further stated that other ranks pleaded with Cockfield toCritically injured: Constable Shanice Fraserstand down but instead he turned the gun on himself, firing the final shot to his head.The couple was picked up and rushed to the West Demerara Regional Hospital where Cockfield was pronounced dead on arrival. His injured girlfriend was subsequently transferred to the GPHC for further treatment. She is currently in the Intensive Care Unit and is expected to undergo more surgeries.Meanwhile, the parents of the young man are claiming that the story they were told of what transpired does not add up.“(The Police) telling me that my son shot the girl, then shot himself; he get up back again and come towards the vehicle that they were trying to put the girl in and some officer go fuh hold he and he shot himself again… but I’m saying if a man shot himself in the head, how can he get up back and shot himself again. I feel something of the sort ain’t right because, honestly, it is really hard to believe this,” the distraught father posited.At the time, Cockfield’s family was retrieving his belongings from the La Grange Police Station. His father related that the 20-year-old has been serving the PoliceThe shooting occurred at the La Grange Police StationForce for over three years, having joined immediately after school.On the other hand, Cockfield’s mother told Guyana Times that she saw her son earlier on Tuesday and he showed no signs of being distressed.“He didn’t say anything, he didn’t tell me anything. He didn’t come as if he had a problem or anything,” the woman cried as she recalled the final moments with her son.She noted that after spending about three hours at home, Cockfield left for work. Sometime later in the evening, the woman said she heard about a shooting incident involving Police Officers and after attempts to contact her son and his girlfriend proved futile, she decided to travel to West Demerara.“Out of curiosity, we just decided to take a car and come over. When we reach (at the hospital), they say is a Police shot himself and nobody don’t know who is the Police. So I decided to go in and then is when I see is my son lying down, dead in his uniform,” the woman recalled.She expressed her anger at the fact that no one from the Station made contact with any of Cockfield’s relatives to inform them about what had transpired.“They apologise for that, but how could you apologise saying everybody was confused. I just come out of curiosity and when I reach, everybody was in shock… It’s painful, he is just 20 (years). He didn’t even start enjoying anything, he ain’t even live his life yet,” the aggrieved woman cried.Meanwhile, the relatives of 21-year-old Fraser told this newspaper on Wednesday that they are not sure what really transpired between the couple, noting that the mother of one appeared fine before she left for work on Tuesday morning.