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Weekly Round-Up

1. Jamaica left devastated after storms Zeta and Eta.

After being hit by a succession of tropical storms over the course of the past two weeks Jamaica is struggling with floods and infrastructure damage. Blocked roads and rivers breaking their banks have buried many houses underneath mud and water as well as leaving at least two people dead. 2020 has been an unusually active hurricane season, forcing the National Hurricane Centre to turn to using the Greek alphabet after exhausting their regular naming conventions. This highlights the disproportionate effect climate change is having on small island nations.

2. Pirate Attacks on Oil Tankers off the coast of West Africa have increased.

Several oil tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of West Africa over the past week. It is believed that there have been five attempted attacks on oil vessels over the past six days. For example, the Wesley tanker was attacked south of Escravos off the coast of Nigeria and several attacks have been reported in the waters of neighbouring Benin. Maritime security companies in the region have suggested that the risk of attacks remains increased, as would-be hijackers and ransomers become more desperate in the wake of their failure.

3. Southern African Development Community facing locust plagues.

The countries of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) are facing a plague of locusts. Affected countries include, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia amongst others. SADC estimates that 45 million people are facing food insecurity this year and these locust infestations could see that number rise to 51 million. The locust plagues are compounding the effects of the global economic slowdown triggered by government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, SADC countries are looking to mobilise 20 million US dollars to combat the growing food shortages.

4. 50 beheaded by extremists in Mozambique.

More than 50 people have been beheaded in Mozambique by Islamists believed to be part of the ongoing insurgency in Cabo Delgado province. Several villages were attacked and many of the beheadings are said to have taken place at once on a football pitch in Muatide village. Various attacks have occurred since the 31st of October and it is believed that in some cases entire families have been killed. This represents a further escalation in the scale and brutality of the ongoing attacks in the region. Leaders from around the world have spoken out condemning the violence which has thus far received limited international attention.

5. Robots are joining the fight against coronavirus in India.

Robotics are assisting doctors in India deal with the country's coronavirus nightmare. A Bangalore-based company, Invento Robotics, has designed three robots to carry out tasks ranging from disinfecting surfaces to answering patient questions and enabling video consultations with doctors. One of the models, 'Mitra' - 'friend' in Hindi, can recall the names and faces of patients it has interacted with, using facial recognition technology. Mitra can roam around a hospital independently, helping patients connect with family and doctors via its cameras and a video screen attached to its chest.

Emerging technology to overcome age old challenges of communication, and in this instance, ill health, sits at the heart of what is understood to be the infancy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While this technology brings significant benefits, the risks to privacy and personal security remain high. Companies are eager to demonstrate their privacy and security credentials with Invento Robotics making a point of championing their "best in class security".

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