Contingency plans are in place at the request of the WHO and supported by the Saudi-led coalition and international NGOs inside Yemen

WHO, World Bank prepare Yemen coronavirus response

The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Yemen.

"We support the installation of a quarantine center in Aden to ensure preparedness and response if cases are confirmed, in partnership with the World Bank," WHO said in a statement. 

As of March 23, there were more than 335,000 confirmed cases in 190 countries since COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China late last year. 

A Saudi cargo plane carrying medical supplies arrived at Aden's International Airport on Monday. The shipment included personal protective equipment for health workers and laboratory testing materials for use in Aden and Sana'a, as well as medications and supplies to support the ongoing response to the crisis, WHO said. 

The contingency plans are in place at the request of the WHO and supported by the Saudi-led coalition and international NGOs inside Yemen.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Najib Al-Awaj announced that the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) allocated $26.7 million to help Yemen to tackle the humanitarian, economic and social implications of coronavirus.

The minister stressed the importance of intensifying international efforts to combat the spread of the disease in an online meeting with World Bank Executive Director Dr. Mirza Hassan and IFC officials. 

More than two-thirds of Yemen's population need support with water services. On Sunday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emphasized the need to provide clean and safe water to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera and coronavirus in the country, which has been plagued by nearly six years of war.

"Displaced people at hosting sites spend hours collecting water every day," UNHCR said in a series of tweets.                       

Since 2017, there have been more than 2.3 million suspected cases of cholera, amounting to more than 50 per hour over the last five years, according to Oxfam. The UK-based aid group projects that there could more than 1 million cholera cases in 2020. 

As for coronavirus, Oxfam said the pandemic is knocking on Yemen's doors, at a time when the country needs peace to survive.

"With the inability to have access to soap and clean water, hand washing in Yemen is a luxury," the British charity said in a tweet. 

"Yemenis need access to clean water now." 12.6 million people are without access to clean water. 

Yemen is home to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with 80 percent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance. 


Correction: Two earlier versions of this story misstated choldera statistics from Yemen's July 2019 Health Cluster Bulletin. The paragraph containing those errors was removed. Also, the information in paragraph 10 was erroneously attributed to the UN. It is from Oxfam.



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