Yemen government halts flights, closes schools

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Houthi deputy minister for Development and Economic Affairs Hussein Makbouli holds a press conference to address the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), in Sanaa on March 14, 2020. (AFP)
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A closed school is seen in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 16 March 2020

Yemen government halts flights, closes schools

  • On the streets, life has been largely uninterrupted by the government’s precautionary measures as large gatherings are still taking place across the country

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government has canceled flights to and from the country’s airports for two weeks, and ordered the closure of schools for one week, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
These decisions were made by the Yemeni Cabinet during a meeting in Riyadh on Saturday. Humanitarian flights are exempt from the ban.
Until last week, the country’s national carrier Yemenia flew weekly to Jeddah, Cairo, Amman and Mumbai.
Yemen’s Health Minister Nasir Baoum said health facilities across the war-torn country have not recorded any coronavirus cases, and all arrivals through air, land and seaports are subject to checks.
In Aden, health officials approved a plan to set up a quarantine for coronavirus patients at Al-Amel hospital after residents protested against establishing a quarantine at Al-Sadaka hospital for fear of an outbreak in densely populated areas of the port city.
In Hadramout, health officials said emergency teams in the province have not recorded any unusual deaths of patients at local intensive care units.
“Until now, there aren’t even suspected cases of coronavirus,” Dr. Riyadh Al-Jariri, head of the Health Ministry office in Hadramout, told Arab News on Sunday. “Why would we hide information about new cases?”
The absence of coronavirus cases in Yemen “is expected given that the country has been on lockdown since the beginning of the war,” he said, denying rumors that some cases have been detected in Hadramout.

BACKGROUND

Measures come amid public skepticism that country is free of coronavirus.

In Houthi-controlled provinces, where most of the country’s population lives, the Iran-backed militia halted UN flights from and into Sanaa and closed schools.
But in the streets of Al-Mukalla, Hadramout’s capital, people expressed skepticism about official reports that the country is free of coronavirus.
“I don’t trust them,” English teacher Abdullah Saleh told Arab News. “It’s impossible that they haven’t been able to record a suspected case. We’ve never seen them testing large gatherings inside cities.”
On the streets, life has been largely uninterrupted by the government’s precautionary measures as large gatherings are still taking place across the country.
On Saturday night, hundreds of football fans roamed the streets of Al-Mukalla honking cars, playing music and setting off fireworks following a local football tournament. Mosques, malls and shops are bustling with people.
“I can’t stop working. I’ll be burdened with debts if I stay at home,” said Abdullah, a middle-aged fish seller.
“The virus will face the fate of other diseases that die before spreading in Yemen. God will protect us.”


Turkey plans to resume flights with 40 countries in June

Updated 17 min 7 sec ago

Turkey plans to resume flights with 40 countries in June

  • Turkey largely sealed off its borders as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak
  • Domestic flights resumed on Monday to some provinces

ANKARA: Turkey plans to resume flights with around 40 countries in June and has reached preliminary agreements for reciprocal air travel with 15 countries, Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoglu said on Thursday.
Turkey largely sealed off its borders as part of measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Domestic flights resumed on Monday to some provinces as Ankara eased restrictions after a significant drop in infection rates.
Karaismailoglu said flights would resume in five stages in June, adding Turkey was in talks with 92 countries on resuming flights in a safe manner.
“We believe that we have left behind an important point in the battle against the virus globally. Now, we have to continue our global ties and trade,” he said in a written statement.
Flights to Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece will resume on June 10, he said. Flights to 17 destinations, including Germany, Austria, Croatia, and Singapore will restart on June 15. Flights to a further 16 countries will begin on June 20, 22 and 25, including to South Korea, Qatar, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium, he added.
The 15 countries with which Ankara has reached a preliminary agreement to resume reciprocal flights include Italy, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Albania, Belarus, Jordan and Morocco.
Germany said on Wednesday it was talking to Ankara about reviewing travel restrictions but was awaiting a recommendation from the European Union.
The virus has killed 4,609 people in Turkey, with more than 165,000 infections so far.