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WHO warns of 300,000 cholera cases in 6 months in Yemen

A baby receives treatment at the Sabaeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen on January 18, 2017 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]
A baby receives treatment at the Sabaeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen on January 18, 2017 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Yemen could have as many as 300,000 cases of cholera within six months and an “extremely high” number of deaths, the World Health Organisation warned today.

We need to expect something that could go up to 200,000-250,000 cases over the next six months, in addition to the 50,000 cases that have already occurred

WHO Yemen representative, Nevio Zagaria, told reporters in Geneva by phone.

The cost in lives from this will be will be “extremely, extremely high”, he said.

The epidemic began in October 2016 and grew until December. It dwindled but was never fully under control, Zagaria said, and new cases had arisen with the rainy season, worsened by the collapse of the economy and the health system.

Read: 180 died of cholera in Yemen, Red Cross

The outbreak has caused 23,425 cases in 18 of Yemen’s 23 governorates since 27 April and 242 people have died, he said.

That misleadingly suggested a case fatality rate of about one per cent, with the true rate more likely 4-5 per cent, he said, adding that the latest data had taken health experts by surprise.

The speed of the resurgence of the cholera epidemic is unprecedented [for Yemen].

Yemen has been ruined by two years of civil war, with 18.8 million people needing humanitarian aid, many of them on the brink of famine, and less than 45 per cent of health facilities fully functional.

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