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Thu 16 January 2020:

According to the Health Ministry of the Houthi-aligned National Salvation Government based in Sanaa, an outbreak of swine flu has claimed more than 270 lives within the space of three months.

The Health Ministry is reportedly introducing measures to counter the spread of the H1N1 virus across several governates, following outbreaks of dengue and malaria, prompting a state of emergency being declared by health minister, Taha Al-Mutawakkil.

“The number of people infected with swine flu reached 6600 cases during 2019, including 1,600 cases during the past two months, while the number of deaths reached 43, among which eight cases were confirmed that they died from H1N1 virus,” Dr. Yusef Al-Hadhri, the ministry’s spokesman, informed Yemen Press Agency last month.

“A bout of fast-spreading swine flu has killed 94 people in October alone, while thousands of reported cases have overwhelmed health care facilities, already crippled by constant violence,” stressed Mohammed Al-Mansour, a senior health official.

The science news website SciDev.Net reported that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative in Sanaa, Altaf Musani, confirmed that the number of cases had reached an all-time high since last October. He has tried to allay fears of a swine flu outbreak, by arguing that it was no more than a “seasonal flu” pattern that will continue until the spring.

Al-Hadhri also cited the decrease in temperature during the winter season as a reason for the spread of the flu epidemic, but also cited the economic situation linked to the blockade and aggression against Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, as a factor

Ahmed Hassan El-Qa’eesh, head of epidemiological surveillance in the Muhweet governorate, disclosed: “The ministry didn’t take it seriously though, and there haven’t been official records as most hospitals reject infected personnel, while dealing with most of them indifferently.”

A report by the International Red Cross this year warned that 24 million Yemenis, or 80 per cent of the population, need humanitarian aid, while 16 million are living on the verge of famine. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that another five years of conflict could cost $29 billion.

Yemen has topped an annual watchlist of countries most likely to face a humanitarian catastrophe in 2020, for the second year running.


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