Coronavirus may spread faster, wider, and with consequences more deadly in Yemen than in many other countries in the world, the UN said. Here are five reasons why.
1. It is a country always at war
Since 2015, Yemen has been devastated by the war, leaving millions of people without access to adequate health care, safe drinking water or sanitation, which is crucial for the prevention of the spread of the virus.
Vital food, medicines and humanitarian supplies have been limited by a partial land, sea and air blockade set up by a Saudi-led coalition of countries in fight against the houthis – while the rebels themselves have obstructed the distribution of aid.
Not having a central government in charge (the rebels has led the government to get out of the capital and in the south of the country) is coronavirus more difficult to contain.
2. It is already suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis
Conditions in the Yemen make the population particularly at risk for a highly contagious disease.
Nearly three years before the advent of Covid-19, the UN said that Yemen are the poorest in the world. Approximately 24 million people there – and it is about 80% of the population depend on aid to survive, and millions are on the brink of starvation.
It is estimated that 2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, and the country has already struggling to cope with diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera before the first case of coronavirus has not been reported.
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The immune system is weakened, those who suffer from chronic diseases could contract Covid-19 more easily, and more difficult to survive.
3. Yemen health system has collapsed
Five years of war, has shattered the country’s health system, leaving it unable to cope with a pandemic.
Much of Yemen 3 500 medical facilities have been damaged or destroyed in air strikes, and only half are thought to be fully operational.
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The clinics are reported to be crowded, and basic drugs and equipment are not in a country of 27.5 million people there are only a few hundreds of fan machines, which are used to help the patients to breathe in cases where coronavirus leads to lung failure.
4. The actual number of cases of coronavirus is unknown
Without knowing more precisely who had the coronavirus, it is more difficult to prevent its spread, or of a plan for the numbers of patients which exerts extra pressure on the already fragile health system.
Since the first coronavirus patient was identified in the areas held in April, the actual extent of the epidemic has been impossible to determine.
The government has said a little more than 900 caseswhile the rebels who control the capital and other densely populated areas say they have detected only four cases on their territory.
The UN says that with the test kits in short supply and a lack of transparency in the data of the rebels and the government, the actual number of cases is almost certainly much higher across the board.
5. The physicians themselves are vulnerable
Alongside a lack of medicine to treat cases of doctors, in Yemen, the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gowns and masks, to protect them from the disease.
An unconfirmed report on the privately owned Al-Masdar news website said dozens of doctors, died as a result of Covid-19 both the rebel and government occupied areas.
One of the most eminent experts of infectious diseases in Yemen, Yassin Abdul-Wareth, died Covid-19 earlier this month, in what has been described as a major blow to Yemen’s health sector.