‘Catastrophic’ cholera outbreak hits 100,000 suspected cases in Yemen

UN officials have warned that the number of cases could double every two weeks if left unchecked. Yemen’s government has announced a state of emergency in the capital, saying it cannot keep up with the outbreak.

A doctor treats a patent affected by cholera

The World Health Organization announced on Thursday a turn for the worse in Yemen’s devastating cholera outbreak.

“More than 101,800 suspected cholera cases and 789 associated deaths have been reported in 19 governorates (in Yemen),” the WHO said in a tweet.

More than 101,800 suspected cases and 789 associated deaths have been reported in 19 governorates.

Geert Caapelaere, UNICEF’s Middle East director, told AP news agency earlier this month that cholera cases could double every two weeks if more aid fails to reach affected areas.

In May, the Yemeni government announced a state of emergency in the capital Sanaa, saying that the spread of cholera outpaced the ability for its public health system to respond to the outbreak.

Yemen’s public health infrastructure has nearly collapsed after more than two years of conflict between Iran-aligned Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s internationally-recognized government.

‘Crisis is here’

The UN has warned of a humanitarian disaster, with more than half of the population having “no access to health care” and roughly a quarter of Yemen’s people on the brink of famine.

Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s humanitarian chief in Yemen, said a “triple-threat of crises” has made it extremely difficult for aid organization

“Today in Yemen, if you do not die of conflict and hunger, you risk being killed by cholera. We have seen the catastrophic consequences when cholera spreads unchecked, and as an international community, we cannot allow this to happen,” McGoldrick said.

Cholera, a waterborne bacterial infection, can be treated. However, if left untreated, it can kill within hours. Some 7.6 million people live in cholera-threatened areas, according to the WHO.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in 2014, when Houthi rebels launched a campaign to capture the capital. In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition launched a deadly aerial campaign against the rebels, one that has been widely criticized by human rights groups for its high civilian death toll.

Watch video01:27

Yemen: Cholera threatens lives of thousands

ls/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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