Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency

Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency
Youths wearing masks as a precaution due to COVID-19 coronavirus disease, sit in the back of a truck carrying out a fumigation in an area in Yemen's southern coastal city of Aden on May 5, 2020, as part of a campaign to prevent the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Chikungunya virus amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 05 May 2020

Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency

Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency
  • Yemeni politicians warned that without sharing information and capabilities between health offices across Yemen, none of the Yemeni warring factions would be able to stem the spread of the disease in their territories

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen declared 10 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including two deaths, pushing the total number of cases to 22 as the Houthis were criticized for being secretive about the spread of the disease in their territories.

The Aden-based supreme national emergency committee announced nine new cases in Aden and Hadramout, including one death.

The Iranian-backed Houthis also announced a new case of a Somali national who was found dead at a hospital in Sanaa.

Yemen recorded its first case of the virus on April 10. The patient recovered and returned home after staying in local quarantine for two weeks.

The increase in the number of cases began early this week when several cases were detected in the port city of Aden.

New cases have been found in the densely populated city of Taiz and in Sanaa. The announcement of the surge in the number of cases comes as 201 doctors in Aden on Tuesday sent an urgent appeal to the Ministry of Health, the separatist Southern Transitional Council that controls Aden and military units in the city, urging them to immediately put the city under 24-hour lockdown, prepare quarantine centers in the city’s districts and provide them with protective items.

“The situation is grave,” Dr. Wafaa Dahbali, Al-Sadaqa Hospital manager and one of the doctors who signed the appeal, told Arab News. “There are at least four deaths in each district in Aden for people suffering from respiratory problems,” she said. Local health facilities could not determine the cause of the deaths due to a severe shortage of swabs, she said.

Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital, slipped into violence last month when the Southern Transitional Council announced self-rule in Aden, disrupting the return of the internationally recognized government and bringing efforts to fight the spread of the virus to a standstill. The council’s last move to impose a complete lockdown in Aden has failed as people flocked the streets.

In Sanaa and other densely populated provinces in northern Yemen, Yemeni government officials and residents have attacked the Houthis for being secretive about the number of coronavirus cases in areas under their control amid reports of hundreds of patients with severe respiratory problems swamping hospitals.

Residents in Sanaa told Arab News that squads of armed Houthi men had sprung up in some districts, sealing off streets and ordering people to stay indoors as workers in vehicles and on foot disinfected streets.

“They blocked Hayl market and Jamal and Sanena streets for two days,” a resident told Arab News on condition of anonymity for fear of Houthi reprisals. “We are worried that there might be so many unannounced cases,” the resident said, adding that Sanaa’s streets were bustling with people and vehicles.

Amateur videos posted on social media on Monday showed armed men blocking a street in Sanaa as an ambulance took away a patient. Healthcare workers in Sanaa who spoke to friends outside Yemen or to local media outlets said that most of the suspected coronavirus cases have been taken to Kuwait hospital as rebels pressure doctors not to disclose information. Doctors in Sanaa did not respond to calls from Arab News.

Yemeni politicians warned that without sharing information and capabilities between health offices across Yemen, none of the Yemeni warring factions would be able to stem the spread of the disease in their territories.

“Neither the Houthis nor the Transitional (council) or the government can cope with the disaster without communication and exchange of information between their health institutions,” Mustapha Noman, a former deputy foreign minister, said on Twitter on Tuesday.