Coronavirus may be catastrophic for Yemen: WHO official

Health system in Yemen unable to fully prepare for pandemic after 5 years of war, Altaf Musani, the WHO Representative and mission chief in Yemen said.

Iran Press/Middle East: If allowed to spread within the war-torn country, the novel coronavirus threatens to become a "catastrophic" disaster in Yemen, the WHO Representative, and mission chief in Yemen added.

"The health system here is already fragile. Should the virus become fully transmissible in Yemen, it will be catastrophic in the country," Altaf Musani, the WHO Representative and mission chief in Yemen, told Anadolu News Agency.

Noting that though the country's health system was starting efforts to prepare for a response to the pandemic, Musani warned that it would never be fully prepared as it had experienced conflict within its borders for the past five years.

"This health system will never be fully prepared, because we've had five years of war, and that conflict, that vulnerability, and that fragility have really weakened the health system to deal with routine health matters such as cholera, dengue, and malaria," he continued.

Musani said he was "deeply worried" should the country find itself facing coronavirus cases since the health system would "not be able to manage" the outbreak.

Earlier this week, the Yemeni authorities have confirmed eight COVID-19 death cases and 51 cases in areas under its control. Half of the fatalities and 35 infections were reported in the temporary capital city of Aden alone.

Although the first infection case was declared on April 10 in the southern Hadramaut province of Yemen, Musani said the particular patient has recovered which was announced on April 13 by the government but noted that there have been subsequent additional five cases declared by the authorities in Aden.

Musani underlined that the WHO was dealing with both of two different authorities in the country, adding that they were providing capacity to both.

"We have a situation where we deal with two different authorities, the internationally recognized government and Aden as well as the de facto authorities in Sanaa. We have provided the capacity to both these entities to make sure that they can test for the virus, trace for the virus, of course, isolate and treat," he said.

Yemen has been beset by Yemenis uprising since 2014. Since the Saudi invasion of the country in March 2015, the Saudi air force has relentlessly bombed the Yemeni people who had risen up in 2014 to ran the Saudi-installed President Abd Rabbuh Masur Hadi out of the country whereupon he took up refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.


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