Yemen declares state of emergency over sharp spike in covid cases

Publish March 25, 2021

Yemen's internationally recognised government declared a health emergency in areas under its control, as infections in a second wave of a coronavirus epidemic surge, Reuters reported.

Yemen's six-year war has restricted testing and reporting of COVID-19, but numbers of confirmed cases have risen rapidly since mid-February after levelling off from September to just a couple a day.

Yemen's emergency coronavirus committee reported 98 confirmed and 168 suspected infections on Monday.

Aid group Oxfam said yesterday the second wave was pushing the country to a tipping point as it edges closer to famine and intensifying fighting displaces more people.

'The figures indicate a sharp rise in the number of people being admitted to healthcare facilities with severe symptoms as these are the only people who are tested,' Oxfam said.

'With little testing, we can't quantify the true scale of the problem, but we do know that COVID is accelerating fast. I'm hearing daily of … people who have died of COVID-like symptoms without receiving medical attention,' Oxfam's Yemen Director Muhsin Siddiquey said.

READ: Yemen intensive care units full with COVID-19 patients

This comes as the Transportation Minister of the Houthi-controlled administration in Yemen, Zakaria Al-Shami, died on Sunday of complications of coronavirus infection, two Yemeni officials said.

Al-Shami was treated in a hospital in the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, along with Prime Minister Abdulaziz Bin Habtour from the same administration and other officials who have also been infected, they said.

Yemen is divided between the government currently based in the south and the Houthi movement that ousted it from power in the capital Sanaa in the north.

Yemen's government, which does not expect to receive its first batch of 2.3 million vaccine doses – through the global COVAX scheme – until the end of March, has reported more than 3,500 coronavirus infections and 770 deaths so far.

Houthi authorities, who control most large urban centres, have played down the spread of coronavirus in their territory and provide no figures.


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