Aden labs run out of reagents as Yemen reports new virus cases

A pharmacist talks to a girl through a plastic barrier amid concerns for the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sanaa,Yamen. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Aden labs run out of reagents as Yemen reports new virus cases

  • Shortage of reagents due to fighting between government troops and separatists, say officials

AL-MUKALLA: Health facilities in Yemen’s port city of Aden have stopped coronavirus screening tests due to a shortage of reagents in laboratories amid a surge in the number of coronavirus cases. 

“All PCR machines in the city have stopped testing for coronavirus due to a shortage of the reagents,” a senior government official told Arab News.  

Aden, the interim capital of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases and other diseases bearing symptoms of coronavirus during the past few weeks. 

Officials say that they consumed their stock of reagents on testing new cases and are currently unable to conduct new tests. 

According to them, the shortage of reagents and other vital medical supplies has been caused due to fighting between government troops and separatists in the southern province of Abyan, which has cut off a road that links Aden with Hadramout. 

On Tuesday, a shipment of hundreds of testing reagents was sent to Aden from Hadramout province that will likely solve the problem temporarily, they said. 

“Due to fighting in Shouqra, we were forced to send the shipment of reagents on a boat from Abyan to Aden,” a senior official said, adding that local hospitals in Aden have not been able to determine the causes of hundreds of deaths in the city since early last month when the city was hit by a rainstorm. 

Hospitals and health facilities in the city cannot cope with the influx of patients amid a shortage of medical equipment and personal protective items, local health officials said. 

Some of the city’s health professionals have died or contracted coronavirus due to a lack of protective gear. 

Dr. Mustafa Mohammed, an official at the Ministry of Health in Aden, told Arab News that he sees addressing the shortage of medical machines and personal protective equipment as more urgent than the supply of reagents. 

New cases 

The Aden-based national coronavirus committee on Tuesday recorded 37 new COVID-19 cases in the government-controlled areas. The number of cases has risen to 167 and the death toll stands at 28. 

The highest number of cases was detected in Aden where 19 cases were registered followed by nine cases in Hadramout. 

The committee also announced registering the first coronavirus case in Abyan province. 

The announcement of new cases comes as local health officials called for stricter measures in the cities, as people appeared indifferent to health guidelines and social distancing rules. 

Hostilities continue 

The health official urged warring factions across Yemen to stop hostilities to allow health workers to battle the spread of disease. 

Despite renewed calls for a humanitarian truce in Yemen, fighting continued on Wednesday on most battlefields across in the country. In the south, government troops and separatists engaged in sporadic shelling and fighting in the province of Abyan as loyalists sought to advance toward the port city of Aden. 

In the north, the Yemen Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that army troops and allied tribesmen pushed into Houthi-controlled areas in the district of Nehim, wresting control of several mountainous locations and killing a number of Houthis. 

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”