Yemen speeds up coronavirus awareness drive as vital aid arrives

A Yemeni worker sprays a disinfecting liquid into a minivan in a street of the capital Sanaa, to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, on March 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 21 March 2020

Yemen speeds up coronavirus awareness drive as vital aid arrives

  • Yemen has stopped flights in and out the country, shut down land crossings and intensified screening measures at seaports that are still open for shipments
  • On Saturday, the committee extended the date for school closures to March 29

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s government has asked governors to join hands with local NGOs, charities and medical colleges and institutes to spread awareness about coronavirus as vital aid began trickling into the country, Yemen’s deputy prime minister said on Saturday.
Salem Al-Khanbashi, who is also the head of government-led emergency committee dealing with the pandemic, said that his government has authorized governors of the Yemeni provinces to take measures to boost people’s awareness about the virus as his government distributes health supplies to health facilities in the provinces liberated from the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.
“They (governors) can also take further decisions such as banning large gatherings. But since the country has not recorded any (coronavirus) cases, we focus our efforts on awareness and preparing health centers,” Al-Khanbashi said.
On Saturday, the committee extended the date for school closures to March 29, but did not approve taking more aggressive measures such as imposing curfews in cities.
Yemen has already stopped flights in and out the country, shut down land crossings and intensified screening measures at seaports that are still open for shipments. Al-Khanbashi said that the country has received vital aid from the World Health Organization (WHO) including medical equipment, test kits, hazmat suits, masks and gloves.
The Yemeni government has also reiterated its commitment to transfer salaries of health workers in the Houthi-controlled northern Yemen, but not before receiving guarantees from the international community and the UN envoy to Yemen that the Houthis would not confiscate the money.
“Why would we transfer salaries to Sanaa if the Houthis are going to confiscate them?” Al-Khanbashi asked.
Condemnation
Yemen’s government has urged the UN, rights organizations and the international community to pressure Houthis to allow thousands of stranded travelers to return to homes inside the rebel-controlled areas in northern Yemen, saying that Houthi quarantines in Baydha and Dhalae are breeding grounds for diseases. “For those under the Houthi quarantine, Houthis did not provide any masks, gloves or sanitizers; and they kept them cramped together with a severe shortage of both food and water,” the Yemen embassy to the US said on Twitter.
At the same time, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has urged the internationally recognized Yemeni government and the Houthis to accelerate the prisoner swap process before the spread of the disease in Yemen.
“Risks posed by COVID-19 make even more urgent the need to release all conflict-related prisoners, as per the parties’ obligations under the Prisoner Exchange Agreement. The parties must take all measures to expedite these releases and allow people to return home safely,” Griffiths said on Twitter on Friday.
In Aden, the government said in a statement on Saturday that it is committed to the UN call for the immediate and complete release of prisoners.


Yoga can help corona patients breathe easy, says Egyptian expert

Updated 14 min 56 sec ago

Yoga can help corona patients breathe easy, says Egyptian expert

  • "Yoga can actually help to avoid injury and to stay stable in every position"

CAIRO: It is well documented that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can have severe effects on the respiratory system, causing difficulty in breathing as well as chest pains.

With no specific cure discovered yet, it has been suggested that yoga techniques can help breathe easy.

According to yoga experts, breathing is the most important part of yoga.

“When it comes to a productive yoga routine, settling your mind, relaxing, centering yourself, and breathing are the most important steps to master," Egyptian yoga instructor Rana Moustafa told Arab News.

Pharmacologist Louis J. Ignarro, Nobel Prize winner in Physiology in 1998, and Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology in the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an article recently explaining how breathing properly can help to fight COVID-19

"Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class; breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections.

"The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule, nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate as NO. It increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO directly into the lungs where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of virus in the lungs. The higher oxygen saturation of the blood can make one feel more refreshed and provide greater endurance," he wrote.

Rana explained that deep breathing "lowers stress levels by decreasing heart rate. When you breathe correctly, it redirects the flow of energy within your body, and also boosts your immunity, and improves both lung function and respiratory endurance."

"The things that happen when you are stressed, such as increasing heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax the whole body," the Egyptian yoga instructor emphasized.

"The most beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s available to anyone and everyone. Yoga is for any age and fitness level. The poses can be easily modified for different skill levels or if someone has an injury or condition. Not only that, but there are several types of yoga to choose from," said Rana.

"Yoga can actually help to avoid injury and to stay stable in every position."