Yemen braces for third COVID-19 wave amid vaccine shortage

Yemen braces for third COVID-19 wave amid vaccine shortage
It is hard to predict the pandemic’s trajectory in Yemen, say experts. (AFP)
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Updated 29 July 2021

Yemen braces for third COVID-19 wave amid vaccine shortage

Yemen braces for third COVID-19 wave amid vaccine shortage
  • Despite not ruling out the possibility of a third wave, Bin Ghouth said that Yemen is experiencing a post-second wave period due to the stable level of new cases and deaths

ALEXANDRIA: Yemen’s internationally recognized government has put health facilities and workers on high alert and demanded that people follow COVID-19 restrictions as the country braces for a third wave of the virus.

“Our trained health workers are on the ground, ready to deal with the third wave as they did with previous waves,” Ishraq Al-Subaee, a spokesman for the Aden-based National Coronavirus Committee, told Arab News on Wednesday, adding that the government is working on boosting the supply of oxygen and applying more health measures to mitigate the impact of the new wave.

Prompted by a sudden surge in the number of coronavirus cases in government-controlled areas, Yemen’s Health Minister Qasem Buhaibeh said on Twitter on Tuesday that the Yemeni government has ordered health workers to “get ready for a new wave” and to “prepare health facilities and quarantines for a possible influx of cases,” urging Yemenis to abide by health precautions.

“We call on citizens to be careful and take the necessary precautionary health measures, as we have field indicators of an increase in coronavirus cases,” Buhaibeh said.

The government’s coronavirus committee on Tuesday recorded 10 new infections in five Yemeni provinces and zero deaths, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 7,022. There have been 1,374 deaths and 4,168 recoveries. On Monday, the committee announced the recording no new cases, one death and two recoveries.

Ishraq said that Yemen would receive in August thousands of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines as part of the international COVAX scheme, and that priority would be given to Yemenis who would receive their first shot.

Health experts argue that it is hard to predict the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, given the fact that two-thirds of the Yemeni population live in areas under the Houthis control, where officials conceal information about the pandemic and obstruct the distribution of vaccines.

“The epidemiological situation in Yemen is ambiguous,” Abdulla bin Ghouth, a professor of community medicine and epidemiology at Hadramout University’s College of Medicine, and an adviser to the health minister, told Arab News on Wednesday, adding that the country has a “weak surveillance and diagnosis process” and a “crumbling health system.”

Despite not ruling out the possibility of a third wave, Bin Ghouth said that Yemen is experiencing a post-second wave period due to the stable level of new cases and deaths. “Through my weekly follow-up to the epidemiological curve, there is a constant continuation of a low level of cases, not a sharp decrease or a double rise,” he said.

In April, Yemen kicked off vaccination campaigns in government-controlled areas, three weeks after receiving the first shipment of COVID-19 shots.

At the beginning of the campaign, the turnout was very poor, until Saudi Arabia and other countries said that they would only allow fully vaccinated people to enter into their countries.

Thousands of Yemenis showed up at vaccination centers, consuming the country’s stock of the vaccines within a short period.

Yemeni health officials said that almost 320,000 Yemenis were vaccinated during the first and second rounds of the jab rollout and about 72,000 people have already registered on the ministry’s news site to receive vaccines.

At the same time, thousands of Yemeni travelers who were left stuck at home due to a shortage of vaccines have demanded that the government swiftly administer new doses, complaining that many Yemenis have lost jobs since they could not get a vaccine on time.

Mohammed Abdul Kareem, a Yemeni expatriate in a Gulf country, said that he waited three months to receive a second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and that his visa would expire if he did not get it next month.

“As my visa expires soon, please tell us will the vaccines arrive at the beginning of August or in the middle,” Abdul Kareem said, commenting on the health minister’s post on Twitter.

Double-jabbed Yemenis also complained that they have not yet received electronic certificates proving their vaccination from the ministry. The health minister justified the delays in issuing the certificates, citing “huge pressure” from thousands of vaccinated people, and added that the ministry is “working on addressing the issue.”


Algerians rue ‘missed opportunities’ of Bouteflika era

Algerians rue ‘missed opportunities’ of Bouteflika era
Updated 20 min 36 sec ago

Algerians rue ‘missed opportunities’ of Bouteflika era

Algerians rue ‘missed opportunities’ of Bouteflika era
  • The long-time leader had risen to power in 1999 on a wave of popular support as his amnesty offer to Islamist militants helped bring an end to a devastating decade-long civil war

TUNIS: Algerians looked back on two decades of “missed opportunities” as flags flew at half mast Sunday ahead of the funeral of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
His death at age 84 was announced late Friday, more than two years after the former strongman quit office.
The long-time leader had risen to power in 1999 on a wave of popular support as his amnesty offer to Islamist militants helped bring an end to a devastating decade-long civil war.
But 20 years later, mass protests broke out in response to his announcement that he intended to stand for a fifth term, and the army stepped in to force his resignation.
Bouteflika, a fighter in the war for independence from France, had suffered a mini-stroke in 2013 that affected his speech, and he was forced to use a wheelchair.
Dubbed “Boutef” by Algerians, he had won respect as a foreign minister in the 1970s to his mentor, Algeria’s second president Houari Boumediene.
Algerian journalist Adlene Meddi said it was nostalgia for the heady Boumediene days of the late 60s and 70s that had given Bouteflika his initial honeymoon period as president.
“For some, he was a reassuring presence, reviving memories of the ‘glorious’ years under Boumediene, when Algeria was the leader of the developing world — all in sharp contrast with the smoldering ruins of Algeria of the late 1990s,” Meddi wrote on online news outlet Middle East Eye.


Hasni Abidi, head of the CERMAM studies center in Geneva, said Bouteflika had also benefited from high oil prices of the era which had inflated government coffers.
“His popularity was guaranteed by a high (price of a) barrel and a ‘civil concord’ law negotiated by the army” that put an end to the war with the Islamists, he said.
“Unfortunately, Bouteflika missed his rendezvous with history — he was the president of missed opportunities.
“He became a man of power and intrigue and not a statesman.”
University of Algiers politics lecturer Louisa Dris Ait Hamadouche said the nation had suffered a “litany of missed opportunities” as Bouteflika “failed to achieve his own ambitions or those of the Algerian state.”
He wanted “to surpass Boumediene, enshrine the presidency, bring all military institutions under its command, boost Algeria’s influence on the regional stage, be the one to turn the page on the black decade (of civil war),” which killed around 200,000 people, Dris Ait Hamadouche said.
“But the outcome has been that in 2021, the institutions of the state have never been so weakened, so divided or so discredited.”
Dris Ait Hamadouche said that for many younger Algerians, the only memory they would keep of their former president would be the “distressing image of an old man in a wheelchair.”
More than half the country’s population is younger than 30.
She said she regretted that death had spared him having to answer for “the mistakes committed during the exercise of his duties.”
Bouteflika faced criticism from rights groups and opponents who accused him of being authoritarian.
Samir Yahiaoui, a Hirak reform movement activist in the Algerian diaspora in France, said he too regretted that Bouteflika had “taken so many secrets with him.”
“It’s just unacceptable,” he said. “It shows that he served a clan, a regime, and was never a statesman.”


Abu Dhabi Police lead convoy of vehicles after COVID-19 Dubai border checks lifted

Abu Dhabi Police lead convoy of vehicles after COVID-19 Dubai border checks lifted
Updated 6 sec ago

Abu Dhabi Police lead convoy of vehicles after COVID-19 Dubai border checks lifted

Abu Dhabi Police lead convoy of vehicles after COVID-19 Dubai border checks lifted

DUBAI: A fleet of cars entered Abu Dhabi Sunday shortly after midnight as the emirate’s new decision to ease entry COVID-19 testing requirements came into effect. 

Jubilant drivers could be heard honking and cheering as they drove behind police cars to cross the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border.

Over the past year, people have reduced their visits to Abu Dhabi due to stringent border testing requirements, which restricted entry into the emirate to those with a negative PCR test.

But on Saturday Abu Dhabi canceled COVID-19 testing requirements to enter the emirate for travelers from within the UAE, for all citizens, residents and tourists.  

Earlier, the emirate removed the need to quarantine for all vaccinated travelers arriving from international destinations.


Motegi hails UAE’s role in evacuating Japanese nationals from Afghanistan

Motegi hails UAE’s role in evacuating Japanese nationals from Afghanistan
Updated 19 September 2021

Motegi hails UAE’s role in evacuating Japanese nationals from Afghanistan

Motegi hails UAE’s role in evacuating Japanese nationals from Afghanistan
  • Motegi said he hopes for the success of Expo 2020 Dubai
  • Motegi and Al Nahyan exchanged views on global issues such as climate change

TOKYO: Japanese Foreign Minister MOTEGI Toshimitsu said he appreciated the United Arab Emirates’ support provided during the evacuation of staff members at the Embassy of Japan in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by Japan’s Foreign Ministry, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Motegi had a telephone conversation on Friday. Japan’s FM stated that the Asian country highly praised the crucial role the UAE has taken with regards to Afghanistan, such as temporarily accepting evacuees and providing humanitarian support.

In addition, Motegi said he hopes for the success of Expo 2020 Dubai, which will take place on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE, and will be the first International Registered Exhibition to be held in the Middle East region. 

The two ministers confirmed that they will continue to further promote cooperation in a variety of fields towards the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and the UAE in 2022. 

Motegi and Al Nahyan exchanged views on global issues such as climate change and agreed to continue close coordination, according to the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Last two prison-break Palestinian fugitives recaptured: Israeli army

Last two prison-break Palestinian fugitives recaptured: Israeli army
Updated 2 min 26 sec ago

Last two prison-break Palestinian fugitives recaptured: Israeli army

Last two prison-break Palestinian fugitives recaptured: Israeli army
  • The two were captured during an Israeli army raid in their hometown of Jenin in the occupied West Bank
  • The six tunneled out of their cell on Sept. 6, exposing security flaws from the vaunted "Israeli Guantanamo"

JERUSALEM: The last two of six Palestinian prisoners who escaped a maximum-security Israeli prison two weeks ago were rearrested early Sunday, the Israeli military said.
The two were captured during an Israeli army raid in their hometown of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, closing an intense, embarrassing pursuit that exposed security flaws after the six tunneled out of their cell on Sept. 6.
Palestinian media reported that clashes erupted in Jenin when Israeli troops entered the city, but a spokesperson for Israeli police said the two escapees, Munadil Nafayat and Iham Kamamji, were arrested without resistance from a house where they had taken refuge and were taken for questioning.
Fouad Kamamji, Iham’s father, told The Associated Press that his son had called him when the Israeli troops surrounded the house and said he will surrender “in order not to endanger the house owners.”
The escapes set off a massive pursuit operation that captured the first four inmates in two separate operations in northern Israel. All six inmates come from Jenin.
Five of the prisoners are from the Islamic Jihad militant group, with four of them serving life sentences, and the sixth is a member of the secular Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas.
For the Palestinians, the prisoners who dug the tunnel for months and escaped were “heroes.” For Israel, they were “terrorists” who took part or planned attacks that targeted the Israeli military and civilians.


Iran’s fuel shipments violate Lebanon’s sovereignty: PM

Lebanon's Prime Minister-Designate Najib Mikati. (Reuters)
Lebanon's Prime Minister-Designate Najib Mikati. (Reuters)
Updated 19 September 2021

Iran’s fuel shipments violate Lebanon’s sovereignty: PM

Lebanon's Prime Minister-Designate Najib Mikati. (Reuters)
  • The National News Agency said security forces raided a fertilizer warehouse in the eastern Bekaa Valley, considered a hub for smuggling operations between Lebanon and Syria

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Iranian fuel shipments imported by the Hezbollah movement constitute a breach of Lebanon’s sovereignty, according to comments published by his office.
“The violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty makes me sad,” Mikati told CNN in an interview, his office said in a posting on Twitter.
He added: “But I’m not concerned that sanctions can be imposed” on Lebanon “because the operation was carried out without the involvement of the Lebanese government.”
The Tehran-aligned group on Thursday began bringing tanker trucks carrying fuel from Iran, a move it says should ease a crippling energy crisis in Lebanon.
A tanker ship carried the fuel to Syria and from there it crossed into Lebanon. Both Syria and Iran are under US sanctions.
Meanwhile, authorities have seized 20 tons of ammonium nitrate — the same chemical behind a deadly explosion last year at Beirut’s port — in the eastern Bekaa Valley, state media said.
Ammonium nitrate is an odorless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertilizer that has been the cause of numerous industrial explosions over the decades.
The National News Agency said security forces raided a fertilizer warehouse in the eastern Bekaa Valley, considered a hub for smuggling operations between Lebanon and Syria.
Authorities seized 20 tons of the dangerous chemical stored inside a truck parked at the warehouse, the NNA said, adding the material was transported to a “safe place.”
Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi called on security forces to conduct a sweep of the area. He said: “We must do our best to move these materials to a safer place away from exposure to heat and sun” to avoid a “catastrophe.”
The company that owns the ammonium nitrate said that the fertilizer was intended for agricultural use.