Concerns that coronavirus could infect 16 million Yemenis "are more than just assumptions,” WHO official Ahmed Al-Mandhari said. “These estimates are based on facts that we are witnessing in Yemen."
Exclusive interview: WHO director says COVID-19 could infect half of Yemen population
The number of daily coronavirus cases in most Arab countries is on the rise and has not yet reached the point at which the curve begins to flatten or decline, said World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Ahmed Al-Mandhari.
"The situation in Yemen is uncertain and worrying that the new coronavirus disease could spread to catastrophic proportions, and it is estimated that half of the population will be infected if urgent and decisive action is not taken," Al-Mandhari said in an exclusive interview with Almasdar Online.
He said priority has been given to Yemen and countries affected by conflict. The WHO has worked with health authorities in Yemen to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, including equipping quarantine and isolation centers with equipment and necessary supplies, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing kits, increasing epidemiological surveillance teams and training health workers to respond effectively to the pandemic.
The situation in Yemen’s interim capital Aden and other governorates is "very dangerous," he said, adding that concerns that the virus could affect 16 million Yemenis "are more than just assumptions. These estimates are based on facts that we are witnessing in Yemeni."
"The financial crisis is the biggest challenge," he said, commenting on the humanitarian donors' conference held in Riyadh on Tuesday. “It is the biggest obstacle to responding to the crisis in Yemen."
Regarding statements by the Houthi-run Ministry of Health in Sana'a about defective testing kits provided by WHO, Al-Mandhari said that all of the medical materials, supplies and equipment sent by the organization to various countries, including Yemen, are "high quality and subject to safety and effectiveness tests."
He called the Houthi statements “rumors” and “misinformation that are useless except to spread fear and frustration among the people to undermine confidence in international organizations."
Edited by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs