Yemen receives COVID-19 aid as medical sector struggles with virus

A Yemeni member of the medical staff in a full hazmat suit walks in the patient ward at a quarantine center where COVID-19 patients are treated in Yemen's third city of Taez. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 08 July 2020

Yemen receives COVID-19 aid as medical sector struggles with virus

  • Coronavirus continues to spread in several governorates in Yemen
  • The shipment contains 8,000 testing kits and 15 tonnes of medicine, equipment and safety gear

DUBAI: A shipment of coronavirus aid arrived in Aden on Tuesday as Yemen’s medical sector continues to struggle with the spread of the virus. 
A medical package of 8,000 testing kits and 15 tonnes of medicine, equipment and safety gear was sent by UNICEF, state news agency Saba New reported.
Coronavirus continues to spread in several governorates in Yemen as the country’s battered medical sector is unable to deliver, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this week. 
The country only has six labs where coronavirus can be tested, which according to the IOM makes the impact of the disease is hidden. 
“Lack of access to soap and water means the illness can spread faster,” a report by the IOM said.  
The country also lacks ventilators and PCR tests, official spokesman for the Supreme Emergency Committee for Combating Coronavirus Ishraq Al-Siba’i told Saba New last month.
The country’s health sector has been battered by five years of war between the Iran-backed Houthi militia and the government, backed by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.


Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

Updated 26 min 52 sec ago

Data leak reveals true scale of Iran’s COVID-19 crisis

  • Iranian outbreak, already the worst in the Middle East, is far more serious than initially reported.
  • Tehran’s cover up of the true virus toll is consistent with their reaction to previous embarrassing incidents.

LONDON: A data leak from within Iran has revealed that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 is nearly three times higher than the figures reported by the government.

The data, which was passed to the BBC Persian service, shows almost 42,000 people died with COVID-19 symptoms up to July 20, nearly triple the 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of infections is also far higher than that admitted by the government: 451,024 as opposed to the 278,827 disclosed by Tehran.

Undercounting cases is common across the world due to limited testing capacity, but the BBC’s information reveals that Iranian authorities reported significantly lower daily numbers, despite having a record of all deaths — suggesting the figures were deliberately suppressed.

The data leak also shows that the first recorded case of the virus in Iran was on Jan. 22 — a month before the government acknowledged any cases.

Already the center of the Middle East’s virus outbreak, Tehran’s cover-up of early cases and its failure to swiftly act on the outbreak likely accelerated the spread of the virus across the region.

The BBC received the data from an anonymous source, who told them they shared the data to “shed light on the truth” and to end “political games” over the epidemic.

The data supplied includes details of daily admissions to hospitals across Iran, including names, age, gender, symptoms, date and length of periods spent in hospital, and underlying conditions patients might have.

The overall trend of cases and deaths in the leaked data is similar to official reports, but different in size.

Dr Nouroldin Pirmoazzen, a former Iranian MP who was an official at the health ministry and is now living in the US, told the BBC that the government was “anxious and fearful of the truth” when COVID-19 hit Iran.

He said: “The government was afraid that the poor and the unemployed would take to the streets.”

The Iranian health ministry maintains that the country’s reports to the World Health Organization on the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are “transparent” and “far from any deviations.”

The cover-up of the true scale of their COVID-19 crisis is not unusual behaviour from the regime. A number of incidents have brought a similar response in 2020 alone.

In January, Iran shot down a Ukrainian jet near Tehran, killing all passengers on board. The regime hid its actions for three days, only acknowledging wrongdoing as public pressure mounted through protests.

Then Iranian nuclear and military facilities were the target of a series of sabotages, explosions, and cyberattacks, but Tehran has attempted to conceal what happened at virtually every step of the way.