‘Huge biological risk’ as Sudan militants seize lab containing deadly pathogens

A World Health Organization boss has warned of a “huge biological risk” after militants took hold of a public laboratory containing deadly pathogens in Sudan.

Technicians were unable to secure infectious materials that cause polio, cholera and measles after fighting broke out in the African country earlier this month.

The WHO's representative in Sudan, Dr Nima Saeed Abid, told journalists that the situation was “extremely, extremely dangerous,” AFP reported.

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Violent clashes between Sudanese forces and a military junta broke out on April 15 and has led to at least 427 deaths and 3,700 injuries, according to WHO figures.

A 72-hour ceasefire is currently in place, with thousands attempting to flee the country and several nations making efforts to evacuate their citizens.

The WHO said that there have been 14 attacks on healthcare facilities during the fighting, with 20 hospitals closed due to a lack of resources, Newsweek reported.

A quarter of those killed could have been saved if the WHO had been given access to the injured, the international organisation added.

Sudan's capital Khartoum has been hit hard by the clashes and a group of militants now controls the National Public Health Laboratory, Abid said.

"This is the main concern: no accessibility to the lab technicians to go to the lab and safely contain the biological material and substances available," he said, adding that there was "a huge biological risk associated with the occupation".

The lab is run in partnership by Sudan's government and a number of aid agencies, including the WHO.

It was reported on Monday that Brits left in violence-ridden Sudan are allegedly being forced to kill their own pets to ensure they don’t starve.

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Thousands of British people are still attempting to flee after missing out on extraction flights by the SAS and UK armed forces.

British diplomats were pulled out of the country in an operation Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said involved over 1,200 military personnel – however, frustrations have been levelled at the government with so many civilians still left behind.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and Tory MP, Alicia Kearns, said: "We have to think about the context in which British citizens find themselves which will be absolute abject fear.

“There is very little water left, there is very little food. I'm even hearing stories of people killing their pets because they are worried they are going to starve. People are terrified.

"And across the world, there are very limited evacuations going on because of the complexities on the ground."


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