AL-MUKALLA: Local authorities in Yemen’s southeastern province of Hadramout have put the city of Tarim under 24-hour lockdown for 14 days to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) as residents had widely broken social distancing rules, local government officials said. The Aden-based national coronavirus committee on Thursday and Friday recorded 27 new cases and eight deaths in the government-controlled areas of Hadramout, Lahj, Shabwa, Taiz, Marib and Abyan, bringing total number of confirmed cases to 283, with 65 deaths and 11 recoveries.
“Starting from May 28, the city of Tarim will be put under complete lockdown for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” city director Khaled Huwaidi told Arab News by telephone.
Tarim has a population of more than 100,000 and is described as the religious capital of Yemen as it is the country’s main center for Sufism. On Tuesday, thousands of mourners thronged the city’s streets to attend the funeral of a popular Sufi scholar, despite the pandemic. Officials say they were forced to seal off the city for 24 hours as residents appeared to ignore health warnings and appeals to stay at home and avoid large gatherings.
“In the past, we counted on people’s awareness to adhere to the orders to prevent the transmission of the disease. That did not happen. So we were forced to put the city into lockdown,” Huwaidi said. The decision came shortly after a local health office urgently advised the authorities in the city to seal off the city after public health facilities detected a surge in the number of coronavirus cases since early last week.
Huwaidi said that the security forces were deployed inside the city’s districts to enforce the lockdown and only one person from each house would be allowed to go out from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for essentials.
At the same time, health officials have sent fresh appeals to residents to comply with the new measures as to help local health facilities cope with the influx of coronavirus patients.
“We must take this issue seriously. The pandemic is spreading and we must adhere to the measures by stopping all gatherings and Eid greeting sessions. The hospital’s capabilities are weak, coupled with shortage of staff,” Mohammed Haddad Al-Kaf, Tarim General Hospital’s manager, said in a post on the hospital’s Facebook page. Under preventive measures approved by the Yemeni government on April 10, public parks, mosques and markets are supposed to be closed and people were required to adhere wear protective items when they go out.
Those measures have largely been broken as people gathered inside mosques and markets and roamed around cities and villages exchanging Eid greetings.
On the battlefield, Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted Houthi military reinforcements heading to the battlefields in Qania, north of the province of Al-Bayda, on Friday, Yemen’s defense ministry said in a statement. Yemen army troops and allied tribesmen pushed back a Houthi attack on Al-Jadafer region in the northern province of Jawf on Thursday.