Including the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Yemen announced on April 10, 25 people have tested positive
Yemeni government, STC and Houthis all address coronavirus
Yemen’s warring parties are taking new measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, which officials say has infected 25 people, five of whom have died as of May 6. As the number of infections and deaths grow amid fears that the actual figures are much higher than official records show, the Houthis, the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Saudi-backed Yemen government have announced new measures and reiterated safety guidelines.
Internationally recognized government
Health Minister Dr. Nasser Ba’oum said the government, with support from the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Action Center, has allocated 580 million Yemeni riyals (nearly $900,000*) to authorities in all non-Houthi-controlled governorates and 500 million rials (about $770,000) to the Aden branch of the Central Bank of Yemen, to be distributed to health facilities.
Ba’oum called on the authorities in Aden, which is under STC administration, to impose a two-week curfew so epidemiological surveillance teams can inspect the population for COVID-19 infections.
He also called on health care workers in areas ruled by the Houthis to be transparent about the number of cases they identify. “Any concealment of the [coronavirus] will harm Yemen’s people,” he said.
Journalists, activists and medical professionals in Aden sounded the alarm this week, saying the number of people dying at home from coronavirus symptoms is not reflected in the toll of confirmed cases.
The STC renewed a partial curfew in Aden and the two governorates under its control (Lahj and Al-Dhale) on Tuesday, issuing several resolutions following the spread of unidentified illnesses and fevers, as well as the increased number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the interim capital.
The council, which is the de facto authority in Aden following its declaration of self-administration on April 26, extended its daily curfew from 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. for three more weeks, starting May 6. Qat markets remain closed as part of a ban on its sale anywhere in STC-controlled governorates.
The STC also ordered the continued closure of land ports, allowing only essential goods such as food, fuel and relief items to pass. Grocery stores and vegetable markets are some of the few shopping centers that remain open to the general public.
All international organizations operating in STC-controlled governorates are excluded from the curfew, as are health care workers and employees of gas stations and hotels, on a limited basis.
Extending the closure of mosques and prayer gatherings for three weeks, the STC urged scholars, sheikhs and imams to help educate people about the need to abide by the safety measures.
The STC imposed a three-day 24-hour curfew on the population in Aden starting April 30, following the announcement of five new coronavirus infections there.
The next day, as the curfew came into effect, Aden witnessed normal movement in some streets and markets, while some shops operated normally, according to eyewitnesses who spoke to Almasdar Online. Hours later, following the failure of the curfew, the STC announced its cancellation.
On Wednesday, the Houthis announced the complete lockdown of 11 neighborhoods in 10 districts of the capital Sana’a, as part of precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Houthis announced their first confirmed case Tuesday, though rumors of unidentified illnesses and mysterious deaths have been circulating for weeks.
This was stated in a Facebook post by the Houthi-controlled Endowments Office.
The circular stressed that imams must commit to informing residents of the precautionary closure of mosques in these neighborhoods for 24 hours starting Wednesday morning.
The circular called on all citizens and residents to fully comply with these guidelines, and to stay indoors for the period of the temporary lockdown and sterilization of neighborhoods by field teams.
The neighborhoods under lockdown are as follows: southern Zera’ah in Tahreer district, Mazhab and Humaidi in the Old City, Aviation College in Maeen district, Al-Qemmah in Azal district, Al-Rawni in Al-Thawrah district, northern Al-Amajd in Safyah district, eastern Rehab in Sab’een district, Azban in Al-Wehdah district, western Matarib in Shu’oob district, and eastern Gul Al-Qadhi in Bani Al-Hareth district.
Meanwhile, the Houthi epidemiological committee said it would establish a field hospital in the capital with a capacity of 3,000 beds to deal with coronavirus patients. The committee directed authorities in Sana’a governorates to work toward preventing gatherings of more than 20 people and to relocate qat markets outside of cities or to open spaces.
The Houthi Minister of Health Taha Al-Mutawakkel said that his ministry is treating all cases of pneumonia, flu or coughs as possible coronavirus cases.
Including the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Yemen announced on April 10, 25 people have tested positive. Five of these people have died from the virus and one has recovered. Medical professionals told Almasdar Online that they suspect the actual number of cases is much higher.
The confirmed cases in Yemen are distributed among the governorates of Aden, with 15 cases of infection and three deaths; Lahj, three cases; Taiz, two cases and one death; Hadhramout with four cases, including a patient who has fully recovered; and Sana'a, with one confirmed case who is deceased.
* All currency calculations based on a conversion rate of 650 Yemeni riyal per $1.
Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs