Yemen records more coronavirus cases amid renewed calls for truce

Sanitary workers prepare to perform a fumigation in an area in Yemen's southern coastal city of Aden on May 3, 2020, as part of a campaign to prevent insect-borne diseases amidst the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 04 May 2020

Yemen records more coronavirus cases amid renewed calls for truce

  • Local and international rights organizations have criticized the militia for blocking aid and food supplies and for pushing residents into bringing in those supplies by camels along dangerous roads

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen recorded more cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to nine with a death toll of two amid renewed calls for a humanitarian truce.

Two more cases were reported in the southern port city of Aden and one in Taiz, the country’s national emergency coronavirus committee said in a Facebook post.

The detection of new cases in Taiz has stoked fears about the rapid spread of the disease in a city that has seen the fiercest battles between the Iran-backed Houthis and the internationally recognized government, and which has been under a Houthi siege since early 2015. Fighting and the siege have destroyed the city’s health system, local officials say.

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Saturday called Taiz Gov. Nabil Shamsan to discuss new measures and efforts to confront the spread of coronavirus. State news agency Saba reported that Hadi instructed the Health Ministry to urgently send medical supplies and medical teams to the city.

Local authorities had previously shut the city down, banning religious gatherings inside and outside mosques during Ramadan, closing markets and restricting residents’ movements between districts.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Two cases have been reported in Aden and one in Taiz.

• Fighting continues to rage across Yemen, as government forces announced killing a number of Houthi field commanders.

Local officials and residents have warned the governor against shutting the city’s only entry point that is under government control, saying the disruption of vital food and medical supplies would exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the city and push its 4.5 million population toward famine.

“The closure of the city’s borders would cause a famine,” Najeb Qahatan, director of the local Ministry of Information office, told Arab News. “You would address one pandemic and then would create another.”

The Houthis imposed the siege after failing to seize control of the city’s downtown area. Local and international rights organizations have criticized the militia for blocking aid and food supplies and for pushing residents into bringing in those supplies by camels along dangerous roads.

Government forces, backed by Arab coalition warplanes, managed to partially break the siege in 2016 after expelling the Houthis from a road linking the city with Aden.

“Closing the city’s only crossing with Aden would create economic and health problems. The only solution is opening the crossing and intensifying the testing of people who cross into the city,” Qahatan said.

Health officials complain that they cannot test the hundreds of people who enter the city daily from Aden, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Yemen, because there is a severe shortage of testing kits and protective equipment.

Army troops were ordered to stay in their barracks for two weeks on Taiz’ battlefields before going back to their families. Military reinforcements will be disinfected before dispatching them to the battlefield, Yemeni army spokesman Abdul Basit Al-Baher said.

“Those measures are aimed at preventing the spread of diseases in the army,” he told Arab News, adding that the detection of new coronavirus cases in Taiz had made lifting the siege an even more urgent matter. “We want the siege to be lifted before stopping the war. The siege has caused more harm to the city than shelling or fighting.”

Yemeni politicians and human rights activists have renewed their calls for a humanitarian truce amid the global health emergency.

“A comprehensive cease-fire in Yemen and the release of all detainees, prisoners and abductees are humanitarian necessities and duties in order to devote efforts to protect the Yemeni people from the potential coronavirus pandemic,” Yemen’s former deputy prime minister, Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi, tweeted.

Fighting continues to rage across Yemen, as government forces announced killing a number of Houthi field commanders and making territorial gains in Dhale, Al-Bayda and Marib’s Serwah.

 


LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

Updated 5 min 16 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

DUBAI: Efforts to return life gradually back to some kind of normality in parts of the Middle East continue, as governments get ready to reopen borders and airlines take bookings for flights. 
Tunisia said it will open its sea, land and air borders on June 27 in the hope of rescuing its tourism industry as the coronavirus pandemic comes under control.
Emirates airline also announced that it was taking bookings for flights from Dubai to 12 Arab countries from the start of July. Emirates began operating scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s commercial complexes, hotels, cafes and museums reopened their doors to customers on Monday after closing for two-and-a-half months. 

June 2, Tuesday (GMT Times)

11:44 - Qatar has reported 1,826 coronavirus cases, raising total to 60,259.

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10:24 - Kuwait has confirmed 887 coronavirus cases and the recovery of 50 percent of total infected people.

10:22 - UAE has recorded 596 coronavirus cases and 388 recoveries.

09:43 - New reported cases of coronavirus are steadily declining in Western Europe, but not in Russia and Eastern Europe: World Health Organization spokeswoman said.

09:34 - Formula One has unveiled an eight-race schedule in Europe from July 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

09:32 - Iran has reported 64 coronavirus deaths, 3,117 cases, raising total infected people to 157,562 with 7,942 fatalities.

09:20 - The number of coronavirus deaths in Britain is close to 50,000, Reuters reported.

09:07 – Hong Kong will extend restrictions on foreign visitors by another three months and an eight-person limit on group gatherings by two weeks, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday.
Both measures were due to expire later in June.
Travellers to Hong Kong need to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

08:45 – 12,739 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales as of May 22, the Office for National Statistics said.

08:16 – Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said late on Monday.

07:51 – Russia has confirmed 8,863 coronavirus cases and 182 deaths in the past 24 hours.

07:02 – A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported Tuesday, becoming China's first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
07:00 Paris gets some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen Tuesday.
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06:45 – The first Rohingya refugee died from coronavirus in Bangladesh, an official said.

05:59Egypt has sanitized prisons and carried out tests on prisoners across the country after banning visits to help curb the spread of coronavirus, local daily Egypt Today reported.

05:50 – A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. 

05:18 – The United States on Monday recorded 743 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, bringing its total to 105,099 since the global pandemic began.