Yemen cholera outbreak tops 300 000 suspected cases: ICRC

A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sana'a. (Hani Mohammed, AP)
A man is treated for suspected cholera infection at a hospital in Sana'a. (Hani Mohammed, AP)

Geneva - A cholera outbreak in Yemen has now surpassed 300 000 suspected cases, the Red Cross said on Monday as the war-torn country reels from disease as well as the threat of famine.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the cholera epidemic "continues to spiral out of control" since it erupted in April.

"Today, over 300 000 people are suspected to be ill. More than 1 600 have died," it said in a Twitter post.

ICRC regional director Robert Mardini said about 7 000 new cholera cases were being recorded daily in the capital Sana'a and three other areas.

The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure after more than two years of war between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels who control Sana'a has made for a "perfect storm for cholera", according to the World Health Organisation.

Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.

Although the disease is easily treatable, doing so in Yemen has proved particularly difficult. The war has left less than half of the country's medical facilities functional.

About 17 million people - two-thirds of Yemen's population - are uncertain of where their next meal will come from, according to the World Food Programme.

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