A medical staff member adjusts the sheets on a bed as personnel setup a coronavirus quarantine ward at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, March 15, 2020 (Photo: AP)
Yemen (People’s Daily) – Yemen officials with the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MoPHP) announced the country’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The infected patient was placed in isolation at a hospital in Aden, the temporary capital, and is reportedly in stable condition.
Rapid response teams are retracing the patient’s recent travel history. Those who were in contact with the patient can expect to be quarantined.
“For weeks, we have feared this, and now it’s happened. COVID-19 is in Yemen,” said United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Lisa Grande.
“After five years of war, people across the country have some of the lowest levels of immunity and highest levels of acute vulnerability in the world,” said Grande.
“What’s facing Yemen is frightening. More people who become infected are likely to become severely ill than anywhere else,” she said.
According to Grande, only 50 percent of the country’s health facilities are functional, which will make fighting COVID-19 harder.
“We’re doing everything we can to prevent further spread of the virus and to help authorities be ready to treat people if they contract it,” said World Health Organization (WHO) representative Dr. Altaf Musani.
“Our aim is to bend the epi-curve. This is why we are calling on communities to practice social distancing and to stay at home and practice protective behaviors,” said Musani.
WHO is providing medical supplies, test kits, ventilators, and training, while raising awareness through information campaigns and strengthening surveillance capacity.
“We need the support of authorities to receive supplies and allow us to make sure they reach the right facilities at the right time,” said Grande.
“This is one of the biggest threats in the past 100 years to face Yemen,” said Grande and added that “it’s time for the parties to stop fighting each other and start fighting COVID together.”
Yemen remains one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Nearly 80 percent of the population requires some form of assistance and protection.
Roughly 10 million people live on the edge of famine, while another 7 million are malnourished. Of the UN’s 41 humanitarian programs, 31 will either reduce or close during April unless funding is received.