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Saudi reports cholera infection in southern province

Saudi reports cholera infection in southern province

The patients, identified only as non-Saudis, are receiving care at al-Mauwassem General Hospital in Jazan

Saudi Arabia confirmed one cholera infection and three other suspected cases in an area bordering Yemen, where an epidemic has killed more than 2,000 people, state TV reported on Sunday, citing a health ministry official.

The report said the patients, identified only as non-Saudis, were receiving care at al-Mauwassem General Hospital in Jazan, about 1,000 km southwest of the capital, Riyadh.

It was unclear if the outbreak was linked to Yemen or to last month’s Muslim hajj pilgrimage, which draws some two million foreigners each year, raising the risk of the spread of infectious disease.

The incubation period for cholera, which spreads through ingestion of faecal matter and causes acute watery diarrhoea, is a matter of hours. Once symptoms start, it can kill within hours if the patient does not receive treatment.

The United Nations has blamed warring sides in Yemen’s three-year-old civil war and their international allies, including Saudi Arabia, for fuelling the cholera outbreak there.

The WHO has rolled out an emergency treatment programme, based on the vestiges of Yemen’s shattered health system, to try to catch new cases early and stop the explosive spread of the disease.

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabeeah said last month that the hajj had passed without any outbreak of disease.

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