Health

First flight carrying stranded Yemenis arrives at Seiyun Airport

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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Yemenia airline on May 28th started evacuating Yemenis stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Pictured here, a Yemeni child walks with her guardian at Sanaa International Airport on February 3rd for evacuation aboard a UN aircraft bound for the Jordanian capital Amman to receive medical treatment there. [Mohammed Huwais/AFP]

Yemenia airline has started the first phase of evacuating stranded Yemenis from Jordan, India and Egypt according to a protocol approved by the country's supreme emergency committee for combatting COVID-19 coronavirus.

The first Yemenia flight carrying 152 Yemenis stranded in Jordan arrived Thursday (May 28th) at Seiyun International Airport.

Yemen's government had closed all land, sea and air ports and suspended all flights in mid-March as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.

Before boarding the plane, all passengers took real-time coronavirus antibody tests, and were then scanned by thermal cameras when they arrived at Seiyun.

The emergency committee on Wednesday said flights would start to evacuate Yemenis stranded abroad using an approved protocol that includes executive measures, timelines for scheduling the repatriation of citizens, and specific health and precautionary measures and controls.

These measures start with testing passengers before they board planes, and their data is recorded and sent to local authorities to ensure that they abide by the home isolation requirement upon arrival.

Priority in repatriation is given to those who reserve first and those who travelled for temporary purposes, including medical treatment.

According to the protocol, the Yemeni government will cover the PCR test costs and support Yemenia in operating these flights. Additionally, each passenger will receive a health certificate showing they are free of the coronavirus.

"Seiyun International Airport has implemented all preparations for receiving the flights that evacuate Yemenis from abroad as per the protocol which was approved by the supreme emergency committee for combatting COVID-19," Seiyun Airport Director General Ali Bakathir told Al-Mashareq.

"The protocol includes precautionary measures to protect both passengers and airport staff in co-ordination with the Public Health and Population Office in Hadramaut, Civil Aviation Authority, and local authorities," he said.

As of Thursday, the total number of coronavirus cases in liberated provinces was 278, including 57 deaths and 11 recoveries, according to the emergency committee.

Health authorities in areas controlled by the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have reported only four cases of COVID-19.

The government has called for the formation of an international fact-finding committee to investigate the Houthis' handling of coronavirus infections in areas under their control.

The number of infections in those areas are thought to be much higher than reported.

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