The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stepped in to help Yemen confront the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the number of confirmed infections increased to seven, including two deaths.
Though just seven cases of infection have been reported to date, the WHO said it anticipates "the virus is actively circulating throughout the country".
To stem any potential spread of the virus, the WHO and the World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday (May 1st) announced they have distributed 520 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 208 ventilators in Yemen.
An additional 1,000 ICU beds and 400 ventilators will be distributed across the country soon, the WHO said in a social media post.
In a Saturday statement, the WHO said it has been presenting "evidence-based scenarios" to the Yemeni authorities, cautioning that coronavirus has the potential to affect "16 million men, women and children".
This is more than half of Yemen's population.
It noted that the best way to control the transmission of the virus is "when people are informed and warned about outbreaks early on" and "where measures are in place to test, trace, isolate and care for cases".
Yemen's supreme emergency committee for combating the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday reported new infections in Aden and Taez.
The first infection was reported in Hadramaut province on April 10th.
Precautionary measures in Taez
"Epidemiological monitoring, rapid response and emergency teams made field visits after the first case was discovered," said Taez Health and Population Office general manager Rajeh al-Maliki.
"This included tracing the contacts of the infected case and isolating them at home, as well as testing a number of them, which led to the discovery of the second infection," he said.
"The first case was reported by the infected person's family three days after he showed symptoms," he added, noting that he arrived in Taez from Aden five days before, and had reportedly come into contact with many people.
"There is panic in the area where the cases were discovered, especially among the contacts," he said.
Health teams have moved in to disinfect the area and raise awareness about the virus and how people can lower their risk of infection.
"The emergency committee in Taez decided to shut down all crossings, mosques and public areas, including markets, clubs and halls," he said, while deploying emergency teams in all districts of the province.
Yemen needs help to confront the coronavirus pandemic, he said, pointing out that the country's health infrastructure is in ruins due to the war started by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah).
"We have already prepared the treatment and isolation centre in the province, as per the available capabilities," he said, adding that this accounts for "just 5% of the needed support".
"The health sector in Taez has only 11 ventilators and three intensive care beds, while the province's population accounts for 25% of the country's population," he said.