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UN warns of viruses spreading in Gaza

In Europe
January 19, 2024

The United Nations warned that viruses are spreading in the Gaza Strip amid poor sanitary conditions and lack of resources. Gazans have limited access to health care and illness is spreading in overcrowded shelters amid Israel’s continued bombardment.

More than 8,000 cases of viral Hepatitis A are linked to overcrowding in shelters, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Laboratories in hospitals are unable to perform tests due to lack of materials.

Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that 24 cases of Hepatitis A were confirmed, but no deaths so far. He added that there are several thousand people with jaundice, “presumably also due to Hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis A is rarely deadly. It can be transmitted through contact with an infectious person or through contaminated water and food, according to WHO. Tedros said in his post that “inhumane living conditions” with lack of clean water will enable Hepatitis A to spread further.

About 60,000 pregnant women are at risk of not getting adequate care in case of complications, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest update on Thursday. Since the start of hostilities, hundreds of premature births and miscarriages have been reported.

Water availability is shrinking each day in Gaza, according to OCHA’s latest update. It added that the current sanitation and water conditions pose a high risk for further spread of Hepatitis A.

Along with deteriorating conditions, there have been difficulties getting aid into Gaza. After finishing a three-day trip to Gaza, deputy chief of UNICEF, Ted Chaiban said that families there are “suffering some of the most horrific conditions I have ever seen.”

He added that cases of diarrhea have spiked.

“Two months ago, cases of diarrhea were up 40 percent from before the escalation in hostilities. By mid-December, 71,000 cases were recorded among children under five, a more than 4000 percent increase since the war began,” Chaiban said.

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