30 million Yemenis under threat from coronavirus

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Mask-clad patients, suffering from kidney failure, receive dialysis treatment at al-Thawra hospital in Yemen's third city of Taez, on June 8th. [Ahmad al-Basha/AFP]

Yemen's top health official warned Wednesday (June 10th) that about 30 million Yemenis could be infected with novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and five other diseases given the limited capabilities of the country's health sector.

These include malaria, dengue fever, cholera, typhoid and chikungunya.

During a virtual meeting with Arab health ministers, Yemen's Minister of Public Health and Population Nasser Baum said his country has only six PCR machines, 17 CT machines, 500 ventilators and 3,000 PCR test kits.

He called for supporting Yemen's health sector "which needs urgent intervention after the spread of coronavirus, and following the tropical depression that hit some provinces, allowing the spread of epidemics".

The Yemeni government is doing its best to provide medicine and supplies in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO), regional and international partners and the private sector, Baum said.

UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned during a virtual meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on June 9th of the spread of coronavirus in Yemen.

"In Yemen, people are dying alone in their homes or shelters, as the crippled healthcare system struggles to respond," he said.

The most fragile places on earth are set to see the peak of the disease "in the next three to six months", he added.

Houthi areas pose risk

Meanwhile, Yemen's supreme emergency committee for combatting coronavirus on Wednesday recorded 36 new cases, including two deaths, raising the total number of cases in liberated provinces since April 10th, to 560.

These include 129 deaths and 23 recoveries.

This only includes the number of cases that were lab-tested using available capabilities, committee spokeswoman Eshraq al-Sebai told Al-Mashareq.

"There should be sufficient swabs to test all those suspected of having the virus but not showing symptoms so we can contain the spread," she added.

The legitimate government's health ministry is working "with transparency" by releasing information on infection cases, she said.

"However, our efforts are threatened by the concealment of information on the spread of coronavirus in Sanaa and other areas controlled by the Houthis (Ansarallah)," al-Sebai said.

Citizens are allowed to travel between provinces, she said, "which threatens to undermine efforts made in liberated provinces to safeguard citizens against the virus".

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We, the people of Yemen, rely on Allah in our life. We don’t have anyone save Him. Praise be to Allah!