32 killed in suspected diphtheria outbreak in Yemen

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/12/12 7:22:25

Yemen's Houthis-controlled Health Ministry said on Monday that 32 people have died of suspected diphtheria, warning the disease is spreading.

The suspected cases of the epidemic have reached up to 244, mostly children, the ministry's spokesman Abdul Hakim al-Kuhlani told Xinhua by phone.

The cases were recorded in 15 provinces, al-Kuhlani said, warning the disease is spreading as the war-hit country lacks of medical supplies because of the all-out blockade imposed on Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.

The epidemic began spreading in October, he added.

Yemen has also been suffering from a severe cholera outbreak since April, which has killed over 2,200 people.

The United Nations in November said more than 925,000 suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Yemen.

Vaccines needed to treat diphtheria will also run out in two weeks, authorities warned.

Ships and planes carrying humanitarian supplies have been unable to reach Yemen since the start of the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade in early November.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which has been fighting the Houthi rebels since March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has blocked land, sea and air access to Yemen after Saudi Arabia intercepted a missile launched by the Houthis toward the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Nov. 4.

The coalition eased the siege last week, reopening some ports in south of the country. But UN aid agencies said the move was not enough, while demanding for a complete reopening of all Yemeni ports.

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