Houthis announce first coronavirus case in Sana’a

Rumors of mysterious deaths and coronavirus-infected patients quarantined in Sana’a hotels have plagued Yemen’s capital and most populous city for weeks, while the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the country's other major cities has steadily climbed. 

On Tuesday, Houthi Minister of Health Taha Al-Mutawakkel announced the first confirmed case in Sana’a: a Somali national found dead in a hotel.   

"We received a report of the situation ... on Sunday and epidemiological investigation teams immediately moved to the hotel where the infected person was found dead," Al-Mutawakkel said on the Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV channel.

"A sample from the [deceased] was taken for laboratory testing and the result showed that he was infected with the new coronavirus, and had chronic kidney failure and chronic hepatitis," he said.

The case in Sana’a brings Yemen’s official tally of coronavirus infections to 22, though health workers and UN officials in Yemen suspect the actual number could be much higher due to low immunity levels, the shortage of testing supplies, the inability of people to reach functioning hospitals and other factors. 

Al-Mutawakkel called on all citizens to limit their activities outside the home and abide by other precautionary guidelines issued in speeches by senior Houthi leaders and in materials from various ministries to prevent infection. 

Separately, residents in Dhamar governorate told Almasdar Online that Houthi gunmen surrounded a village in Mayfa’at Ans district, after reports of the presence of coronavirus infections there. 

According to the residents, the Houthis deployed dozens of the gunmen at the entrances to the village of Al-Haswal, located about 12 kilometers east of Dhamar city, preventing residents from entering or leaving the village.

Some residents worry that the heavy-handed approach could exacerbate the situation, given that people suspected of having the virus are being pressured by neighbors to leave the community out of fear that the military will cordon off the entire neighborhood. Identifying the first official case in Sana’a as a Somali migrant could add a racist element to these fears.


Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs 



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