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WHO warns of high bio-hazard risk in Sudan after fighters seize pathogen labs


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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced there is a “high risk of biological hazard” in Sudan, as fighting between the nation’s military and a rival paramilitary force continues to escalate. The violence has so far left at least 459 people dead and injured about 4,072 more, according to the WHO’s latest figures.

The announcement comes after one of the warring parties seized a laboratory in the Sudanese capital, which held hazardous materials including measles and cholera pathogens. According to a WHO spokesperson, technicians were unable to access the national public health laboratory to secure the materials. It was not disclosed which of the two warring parties had seized the facility.

“There is a huge biological risk associated with the occupation of the central public health lab,” WHO’s representative in Sudan, Nima Saeed Abid, said. “There is a huge biological risk associated with the occupation of the central public health lab.”

Power outages throughout Sudan have also reportedly made it impossible to properly maintain materials at the lab, resulting in an “extremely, extremely dangerous” situation that has left other medical services unavailable as well.

“If the violence does not stop, there is a danger that the health system will collapse,” the United Nations Population Fund warned.

Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health has stated that these blackouts, combined with staffing and supply shortages, have rendered 36% of health facilities in the nation’s capital non-functional and another 25% unresponsive. The United Nations health agency has also confirmed 14 attacks on health care facilities during the ongoing conflict, killing eight and injuring two.

Red Cross Regional Director for Africa Patrick Youssef has urged other countries to keep up pressure on Sudan to find a “durable political solution to end the bloodshed,” even after foreigners are evacuated.

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