The World Health Organization (WHO) says there’s a “huge biological risk” after Sudanese rebels of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) seized the country’s National Public Health Laboratory in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday.
A US-brokered 72-hour truce deal appears to have already collapsed, given war correspondents widely reported hearing gunfire persist into the evening. The top-ranking WHO official in Sudan, Nima Saeed Abid, called the development “extremely dangerous because we have polio isolates in the lab, we have measles isolates in the lab, we have cholera isolates in the lab.”
CNN is reporting that the RSF is now in control of the lab, citing a a high-ranking medical source, who told the outlet: “There is a huge biological risk associated with the occupation of the central public health lab in Khartoum by one of the fighting parties.”
The WHO additionally confirmed that “trained laboratory technicians no longer have access to the laboratory.” This is a serious crisis given the persisting power outages across the capital area throughout the more than week of fighting, which has killed around 500 people and injured thousands more.
The WHO is warning that there’s a risk of spoilage and potential for leaks of deadly pathogens, given “it is not possible to properly manage the biological materials that are stored in the laboratory for medical purposes.”
In the most alarming part of the report, the CNN medical source said:
The medical source told CNN that “the danger lies in the outbreak of any armed confrontation in the laboratory because that will turn the laboratory into a germ bomb.”
“An urgent and rapid international intervention is required to restore electricity and secure the laboratory from any armed confrontation because we are facing a real biological danger,” the source added.
Sudan now stands once again on the brink of full-blown civil war after already having been in a state civil war on and off again for the better part of a half century.
One wonders what sensitive bio-labs with highly dangerous samples including deadly diseases are doing there in the first place…
Recently, the safety of biological labs has been a serious question also when it comes to the Ukraine conflict. Thus far, there have been no known disasters relatedly to germs or diseases amid the Russia-Ukraine war.
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