The concealment of coronavirus infections follows a similar approach in Sana’a, where Houthi authorities have revealed two out of approximately 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases
Ibb: Houthis cover up COVID-19 cases through threats, nighttime burials
Houthi authorities in Yemen’s central governorate of Ibb have quietly buried the bodies of confirmed and suspected coronavirus victims and threatened health workers against disclosing information about other COVID-19 cases, according to eyewitnesses and medical workers.
The quarantine center at Ibb’s Jeblah hospital receives a number of suspected COVID-19 cases from various districts of the governorate on a daily basis, said the medical workers, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Doctors and staff at the hospital’s quarantine center have faced threats of imprisonment and other penalties by Houthis if any of the information is released to the public, the sources said.
Test results have confirmed COVID-19 infections in the governorate and the deaths of some of those patients have been recorded, the medical workers said, but Houthi officials there have not revealed any of these developments publicly.
The concealment of coronavirus infections in Ibb follows a similar approach to the COVID-19 crisis undertaken in the capital Sana’a, where Houthi authorities have announced only two out of approximately 100 confirmed cases, multiple doctors and medical wokers familiar with the cover-up told Almasdar Online.
Jeblah hospital's quarantine center awaits the results of several coronavirus tests sent to a processing lab in Sana'a. A document from the Sana'a-based National Center for Health Laboratories showed that at least one patient at Jeblah hospital had tested positive for COVID-19 on May 5. However, the Houthis did not include that case in their official tally of two confirmed coronavirus infections in Houthi-controlled territory.
Meanwhile, eyewitnesses told Almasdar Online that at 2 a.m. on Wednesday Houthis buried seven bodies from Jeblah hospital, where the medical workers said the deceased were being treated for suspected COVID-19 infections. The sources said burying the bodies in the middle of the night was unusual and was not related to the Ramadan schedule.
Later Wednesday, a local Houthi-appointed official warned of the threat of coronavirus in Ibb.
"The coming days will be painful and bitter, beware of leaving your homes except for the utmost necessity and with extreme caution that prevents mixing," Ibb’s deputy Gov. Abdulhameed Al-Shaheri said on his Facebook page.
Earlier in the week, Houthi authorities in Ibb city announced a curfew starting May 14 in a number of neighborhoods. Eyewitnesses told Almasdar Online that the curfew has been largely ignored, with residents going about their daily routines in the streets and markets.
Editing by Casey Coombs