The latest news from Mongolia:
Flu-like Illness Peaks. While we’re not hearing too much about H1N1 anymore, seasonal flu has become a major problem in Mongolia, and hospitals are being over-crowded. In some cases, small hospital rooms are being crammed with six to ten patients, as well as their caregivers. A large percentage of the flu sufferers are children, and at least one has died being transported between hospitals looking for a vacancy. Some government micro-district hospitals are seeing more than 100 patients a day, and 2,300 patients are currently in public hospitals. Joel has been suffering with a low-grade fever and sore throat lately, so we’re monitoring him closely to be sure that it’s not progressing to pneumonia.
Earlier this week, the new ambassador from the United States Jonathan Addleton declared a disaster in Mongolia due to the effects of the dzud. More than 13,000 people live in locations that are currently inaccessible due to snow and ice blocking the roads. Addleton, a former USAID representative to Mongolia, spent four days touring the hardest-hit provinces, before declaring a disaster and requesting USAID to donate $50,000 to UNICEF to purchase emergency supplies. We’re not directly affected by this in the capital, but this harsh winter will convince even more nomads to give up their lifestyle and move to the city, further exacerbating the problems that mass urbanization is already causing. Food prices will likely also skyrocket as meat becomes more scarce.
Early this week, residents of Tuv province reported a couple of large meteorites crashing to earth. UFO enthusiasts had a different theory, since the fallen items were obviously metal. Further investigation revealed that the items were, in fact, space junk, remains of the liquid fuel tank of a US Delta-2 delivery rocket launched last September. I guess we can be thankful that they landed in Mongolia, the one place on earth where they were least likely to hit somebody.