Costs of graves in the governorates have soared since the start of the pandemic.
Coronavirus spreads in Ibb
Doctors and other medical professionals are sounding the alarm in the Houthi-controlled Ibb governorate, saying a large outbreak of coronavirus in the governorate is obvious. The Houthis have only confirmed four cases in all the territories they control, despite the large number of deaths of its leaders in Ibb.
The rise in infections has been particularly steep since the Eid Al-Fitr holiday, medical professionals said, with customary movement of families from the cities to the countryside to celebrate with kin likely leading to the spread of the virus.
While some patients have made their way to hospitals, many prefer to take medical consultations remotely by phone or online. Most complain of fever, coughs and shortness of breath.
Community leaders named more than 45 coronavirus cases in the last 10 days of May in Ibb, as well as an unspecified number of deaths in people’s homes. People around the governorate have taken to social media to mourn the loss of their loved ones.
Al-Birr mosque and mortuary
The mortuary of the Al-Birr mosque receives several bodies of the deceased on a daily basis in order to wash and bury them. Thanks to generous benefactors, the poor can bring their dead here, free of charge.
The imam of Al-Birr Mosque, Mohammed Hashim, confirmed to Almasdar Online that in three days the mosque received more than 50 dead.
The mortuary of Al-Bir is one of several mortuaries in Ibb governorate.
"The epidemic has spread in Ibb and has spread dramatically," Hashem said, calling on residents to stay at home and practice social distancing.
Residents reported the death of a young man named AbdulIlah Saleh Qassem in the Ibb city, a day after the death of his father. Another resident, Abdullah Abdo Alwan, died in Ba’adan district.
Rising cost of graves
As the toll continues to rise, the price of graves has increased in Ibb. Prior to the pandemic, the cost of a grave in Ibb ranged from 20,000 to 30,000 Yemeni riyal (about $31 to $46). The cost of a grave now ranges from 60,000 to 100,000 Yemeni riyals (about $92 to $154) and sometimes more. This is unprecedented in Ibb.
The high costs are partially attributed to the poor performance of the Endowment office in the governorate, whose mandate includes regulating the costs of graves. A source in the office admitted that the office is not focused on the monitoring of grave costs or properly allocating the endowment funds that were donated for this purpose.
"We took the body of our relative and the cemetery guard asked us for 100,000 riyals…[we] could look for another cemetery, but they are all full these days,” a relative of a deceased person told Almasdar Online.
Another person lamented the loss of ritual that usually accompanies the dead. Coronavirus has led residents to skip the gatherings to mourn the dead, and often the communal prayers at the gravesite as well.
“Coronavirus has not only changed all these rituals, but our lives,” one Ibb resident said.
Loss of Educators
The education sector has lost many of its staff while many of the infections are still receiving treatment.
Abdullah Abdo Saif Al-Ansi, deputy director of the Education Office in Muthaikharah district, southwest of Ibb, is believed to be one of the victims of the virus. According to those who knew him, he contracted it at the end of Ramadan and suffered from coronavirus-like symptoms before dying on Saturday, leaving many in the education community mourning his loss.
A math teacher at Ali Ibn Abitalib school in the Jeblah Junction area of Al-Mashana district died days after her father and grandmother passed away. All three deaths were attributed to COVID-19.
In the Al-Siani district, the head of the district’s educational statistics department, Abdelkader Ahmed Malik Al-Qubati, died Saturday of coronavirus symptoms.
Ibb city neighborhoods
Al-Waze’ya was among the first neighborhoods in Ibb city infected with coronavirus. One of the first casualties was Dr. Yosri Mijalli, who died a few days after the death of his father. A high school teacher Bashir al-Ammari died in the same neighborhood. On Sunday, a neighborhood official (Aqel al-Hara), Abdullah Saleh Aloua also passed away. Residents say dozens of people have been infected in Al-Waze’ya.
One young man, a well known member of the community, said that many residents of Al-Madriya neighborhoods have died in past two days, including Mohammed Naji Al-Duais, Walid Redman Saif’s wife, Abdo Alwan's wife, and Murshid Kheshafa.
A number of residents of Baghdad neighborhood, including Abdulaziz Al-Samawi, one of the finest lawyers in Yemen.
Rural areas and panic
The pandemic is believed to have reached several towns and rural areas in Ibb governorate, as panic spreads over the increasing deaths in the governorate.
Two districts, Muthaikharah in the southwest of the governorate and Al-Sayani in the south of the governorate, recorded more than 12 deaths and dozens of infections.
In Hubaish district, four young men died in the past few days, according to residents and relatives of the deceased: Fahad Abdullah Al-Faqih, in his 30s, an iron merchant at Hubaish junction, 35-year-old Issam Yahya Al-Siddiq, who died in the Dhulmah area of Hubaish district, Majid Ahmed Abdullah Al-Hamidi and Hamid Mohammed Al-Hamidi.
In the past few days, three citizens have died of the virus in Hubaish junction area north of Ibb, including a resident who died in the Al-Manqodah area of Hubaish junction.
The Houthis have imposed curfews in Al-Daleel and Hubaish junction areas north of Ibb, and have ordered the shuttering of several shops in these areas.
Al-Naderah and Al-Saddah districts
The epidemic reached several areas in the east of Ibb governorate, where AbdulKarim Abbas Ahmed Zabara died as a result of the infection from the village of Ashmah. His mother died 10 hours later.
In Al-Sadda district, a resident of the Village of Hafzan, east of Ibb, who worked at the Martyr Ali Abdul Mughniy Hospital passed away while a number of villagers, including a doctor and an anchor in the Houthi-controlled Yemen satellite channel were infected.
Citizens in Ibb complain that some hospitals do not receive patients or people with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. They and others complain that medical teams from the governorate health office are not responding.
According to activist Kamelah Yasin, a woman who was refused treatment at multiple hospitals died shortly thereafter.
"Ibb hospitals refused to receive a woman who was pregnant with twins. She died along with the two children in her womb."
Complicating the pandemic in Ibb is the arrival of rumors which have plagued other Houthi-controlled territories, that of the “Mercy” needle. These baseless rumors suggest that the Houthis are killing coronavirus patients with lethal injections to end their suffering. Almasdar Online has spoken to numerous doctors who previously revealed Houthi wrongdoings and all say that the rumors are not true.
These rumors have spread far and wide in Ibb. Doctors who have spoken with Almasdar Online have attributed the deaths of dozens of individuals at home to these rumors, which prevent patients from seeking medical help.