Eight things you need to know this morning

Health ministry personnel fumigate against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Honduras. Photo / Getty
Health ministry personnel fumigate against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Honduras. Photo / Getty

1. The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus a global emergency after a meeting in Geneva. The WHO believes Zika requires an urgent and united response, with experts worried the virus - linked to brain defects in babies - is spreading far and fast. The BBC reports the alert puts Zika on the same level of concern as Ebola. Research and aid will be fast-tracked to combat it.

2. In Iowa, the US presidential candidates have held smaller meetings today ahead of this afternoon's caucus voting. The final major rallies were held on Monday. Donald Trump for the Republicans and Hillary Clinton for the Democrats are thought to be slightly ahead.

3. Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in Britain have been given official approval to edit the genes of human embryos for research, using a technique that could eventually be used to make designer babies. The embryos can not be implanted.

4. The apparent suicide of top chef Benoit Violier comes only weeks after his Restaurant de l'Hotel de Ville in Crissier, Switzerland, was named the best in the world.

Violier, 44, was also ranked the country's number one chef by the Gault et Millau guide in 2013.

5. Lions have been rediscovered in the Alatash national park in Ethiopia. The big cats, which have disappeared from much of the African country over the past few decades, are thought to be up to 200-strong in the park area, according to the Born Free Foundation.

6. Burma opened its new parliament session with the first freely-elected members in 50 years. Hundreds of new MPs have been sworn in. The parliament has the task of choosing a new president.

7. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has posted an Instagram video showing Russian opposition politician Mikhail Kasyanov in a sniper's crosshairs. Kasyanov, of the RPR-Parnas Party, is a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

8. Authorities in Germany have doubled police numbers to cover the Cologne carnival on Thursday to try to avoid a repeat on the attacks at New Years. About 2000 police and 350 cadets will work to ensure the public's safety on women's carnival day.

- Agencies

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