The ban is an attempt to reduce large qat gatherings and mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
Military police enforce three-day qat ban in Taiz
Military police on Sunday began preventing qat from entering the city of Taiz in accordance with a decision handed down by Taiz governorate’s emergency committee to combat the coronavirus.
The committee decided on Friday that qat would be banned from entering capital for three days starting Sunday, with military forces preventing qat vendors from entering through the Henger checkpoint, the main entrance to Taiz. The committee said that qat markets would be redistributed to various areas in the city following the three-day ban in a way that would minimize large gatherings of people.
The measure was taken to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Yemen. Forty cases of COVID-19 have been officially reported in Taiz, with at least 10 deaths. Given Yemen’s limited testing and health resources, the actual number of infected people is likely much higher.
Authorities throughout Yemen have struggled with qat bans, withdrawing the orders soon after they are issued because residents ignore them.
Qat sellers have set up stalls to sell the mildly narcotic plant in the Al-Dhabab area southwest of Taiz city, which has also drawn large crowds.
On Sunday, a World Food Programme (WFP) cargo plane with 10 tons of medical aid arrived in Sana’a in response to the coronavirus outbreak, hours after another UNICEF aid plane arrived, according to Houthi-controlled Saba News agency.
WFP said that four of its cargo planes had arrived last week at Sana’a and Aden airports with medical assistance for the coronavirus response.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced over the weekend the arrival of medical supplies and essential medicines worth $5 million via two planes coming from the WHO supply center in Dubai, according to the government-controlled national coronavirus committee.
Yemen has officially recorded 354 cases nationwide, including 84 deaths and 14 recoveries. These figures do not include areas controlled by the Houthis, who continue to cover-up the number of COVID-19 cases in their areas of control and intimidate anyone with knowledge of infections from speaking. The majority of Yemenis live in Houthi-controlled areas.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs