Middle East governments must act quickly to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as cases in the region have risen to nearly 60,000, almost double the count a week earlier, the World Organization warned. health (WHO).
“New cases have been reported in some of the countries most vulnerable to fragile health systems,” said Ahmed al-Mandhari, WHO director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Pakistan and Afghanistan, on Thursday. as well as MENA countries.
“Even in countries with stronger health systems, we have seen a disturbing increase in the number of reported cases and deaths”, al-Mandhari said in a statement.
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Outside of Iran, which has reported more than 50,000 cases, the number of coronaviruses has been relatively low in the Middle East and North Africa compared to Europe, the United States and Asia.
But health officials fear that cases of highly contagious respiratory disease, COVID-19, may be underreported. They say that many countries with weak governments and conflict-eroded health systems will find it difficult to cope.
“I cannot overstate the urgency of the situation,” said al-Mandhari. “The growing number of cases shows that transmission occurs quickly at the local and community levels.
“We still have a window of opportunity, but that window is slowly closing day by day. “
The total number of cases in the region rose to 58,168 from 32,442 on March 26, according to WHO, the day the global cases of COVID-19 crossed the million mark.
To date, 1,016,534 people have been infected worldwide, with 53,179 deaths.
Humanitarian disaster in Yemen
One of the countries most affected by the conflict is Yemen, where the World Bank announced Thursday that it would provide emergency funding of $ 26.9 million to help WHO and local authorities improve their coronavirus detection, containment and processing capabilities.
Yemen has not confirmed any cases of coronavirus, but it is considered particularly vulnerable because a five-year civil war brought its health system to the brink of collapse and created one of the worst humanitarian disasters of origin human to the world.
The country is already struggling with overlapping infectious diseases, including cholera, diphtheria and dengue, and large numbers of people have been displaced in the ongoing conflict.
About 24 million of its 29 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. There are no doctors in 18% of the country’s districts, most healthcare workers have not been paid for at least two years, and COVID-19 test kits are available for only 600 people, according to the World Bank.
“The epidemic poses unique public health risks in Yemen … given the already weak health system and the high vulnerability of the population,” said Marina Wes, bank manager for the country.