AL-MUKALLA : Yemen’s health authorities have said the country’s only coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient is responding to treatments and breathing without assistance.
The war-torn country is fighting to stem the spread of COVID-19 inside the city of Sheher in the southeastern province of Hadramout.
Ali Al-Walidi, a spokesperson for the supreme national emergency committee, told Arab News that local authorities in the province of Hadramout, where the first case of the virus was detected on Friday, has approved several measures to prevent the spread of the disease and preparing for a potential surge in cases.
“The situation is soothing and under the control thanks to great efforts by the local authority and the health office in the province,” he said, adding that health workers are observing the patient’s relatives and other people who came in contact with him. “Those people are in quarantine and are under the watch of the health office’s rapid teams,” he said.
The province’s health office said two of the quarantined people tested negative for COVID-19 despite developing some symptoms.
Al-Walidi said that due to a shortage of test kits, the health authorities preferred to quarantine the people who came in contact with the man and only test those who developed COVID-19 symptoms. “We will be testing all of the people who mixed with the man when more kits are available,” he added.
Yemen officially announced the first case of the virus in the southern port city of Sheher, a 60-year-old official at the city’s seaport. Eighteen people were quarantined, including relatives and health workers who treated him at a local hospital. Another 300 people who mixed with his relatives and doctors were asked to isolate themselves at homes.
Bracing for an explosion of cases, the governor of Hadramout Faraj Al-Bahsani opened a new field hospital in the eastern suburbs of Al-Mukalla, the capital of Hadramout province. Officials said the 150-bed hospital is equipped with 10 ventilators and an intensive care unit of 10 beds. As many as 150 doctors, nurses and health workers trained on how to deal with COVID-19 patients would be deployed in the hospital.
At the same time, workers wearing protective clothes have disinfected Al-Mukalla seaport, streets, parks and hospitals as local authorities imposed a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to stop the spread of the disease in the province. Similar measures were imposed in other Yemeni provinces where markets were closed as people were asked to reduce social contact.
Meanwhile, fighting broke out between the internationally recognized government forces and the Iranian-backed Houthis despite the UN’s call to maintain a commitment to a recently agreed ceasefire. The Yemen Army said on Wednesday that government forces recaptured a strategic military base in the northern province of Al-Jawf that fell to the Houthis during the Saudi-led truce.
Rabia Al-Qurashi, the army’s spokesman in Al-Jawf, told Arab News that Houthis exploited the halt of airstrikes by the Arab coalition to launch an attack on the government-controlled Al-Khanjar military base in Al-Jawf’s Khab and Sha’af district. “The troops are inside the base now after expelling the Houthis,” he said. Fighting also broke out in the central provinces of Marib and Al-Bayda and the southern province of Dhale.