Two weeks after Yemen’s first COVID-19 case, WHO says no linked individuals infected
Yemen’s only confirmed COVID-19 patient remains stable and all known individuals he has been in contact with have been tracked, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday evening. The confirmed case was announced two weeks prior, on April 10, by health authorities in Al-Shehr town of Hadhramout governorate.
“The case with COVID-19 in Hadhramout is stable, and we are monitoring health outcomes and the response of the health system to them, and to see if exposure patterns have emerged from this first indicator,” Altaf Musani, WHO representative in Yemen, said during a public briefing delivered via Facebook.
“We know that at least 170 people who were in contact with the corona-infected case have been tracked, and additional tests have been conducted,” he explained. “Thirty-seven hospitals across the country have been allocated to receive corona-infected patients, 32 of which have received the necessary equipment, seven of which are fully operational and are working with full capacities,” Musani said.
Following the announcement of the first confirmed case in Al-Shehr, Hadhramout Governor Faraj Al-Bahsani immediately locked down Al-Shehr port and instituted a curfew. Meanwhile, the governors of neighboring Shabwa and Al-Mehrah instructed the security forces in their respective governorates to shut their borders with Hadhramout to prevent transmission of the virus.
However, Yemen’s health infrastructure is severely weakened and divided, with shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment suitable for medical professionals. Only half of the country's medical facilities are fully operational, and health authorities are currently only able to screen a few thousand suspected cases with equipment provided by WHO.
“With the first case of corona in Yemen, we will move from the alert stage to the response stage,” the WHO’s Yemeni representative said, adding that the health body has 333 teams covering every region of the country “and the numbers will increase, so that they can address the rumors that come every day from all places in Yemen.”
“WHO currently has three laboratories in Mukalla, Sana'a, Aden and can conduct tests for new coronavirus cases,” he said, adding that “three laboratories will be added in the coming days to support health authorities in Yemen, and they have been proposed to be placed in Taiz, Hodeidah, and Seyoun.”
As a result of over five years of devastating conflict, about 80 percent of Yemen's population, or 24 million people, require some form of humanitarian assistance, with millions considered to be on the brink of famine.
Edited by Alkhatab Alrawhani