Yemen declares state of emergency over cholera outbreak

Yemen's Houthis (Ansarallah) have declared a state of emergency over a deadly outbreak of cholera that has spread rapidly in Sanaa, AFP reported Monday (May 15th).

In a statement delivered on Houthi-run Al-Masira television, Health Minister Hafid bin Salem Mohammed said the "scale of the disease is beyond the capacity" of his department, and appealed for help from international humanitarian organisations.

The state of emergency is an "indication of how serious this crisis is", UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said Monday.

"This rapid outbreak of cholera is just another dire manifestation of the humanitarian catastrophe that faces this country," he said, adding that "these numbers will increase in the weeks and months ahead".

Twenty-five districts in 11 governorates have been affected in the past four weeks, McGoldrick said, with more than 50 other districts at risk.

"It is very likely that the numbers are very under-represented because... over 50% of the health facilities in this country are no longer functioning," he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday said the cholera outbreak had killed 115 people and sickened 8,500 since April 27th.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) expressed fears that health authorities alone will not be able to deal with the outbreak, and called on international organisations "to scale up their assistance urgently to limit the spread of the outbreak".

At Sabaeen hospital in Sanaa, deputy director Nabeel al-Najjar said the understaffed medical facility was struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

The hospital, which lacks medicines, is receiving between 150 to 200 patients with cholera symptoms a day, he said.

"We are putting four patients in each bed, and have placed extra beds in tents and under the trees in the garden," he said, adding rain had then complicated the arrangements.

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