The spread of Coronavirus is going unchecked in Yemen, a country devastated by civil war. Yemen’s government confirmed the first Covid-19 case on 10 April. The Houthi rebels in Sanaa and northern areas didn’t report any cases in their territory until 5 May.
Most African countries are still struggling to cope with the pandemic. However, for Yemen, the case is worse as the infections are deadlier and faster. With barely any statistics, it’s not known how many people have died of the virus in the country so far. No social distancing or other virus precautions is going on. Most residents don’t believe in the pandemic’s existence.
Covid-19 in Yemen
Some residents of Yemen claim that the medical team knew about the spread of Covid-19, but the authorities did not announce it. Days later, the cases started increasing rapidly. Seventeen cases were first recorded, then the numbers jumped to 22 the next day. Residents began hearing that people are dying at home the following days.
Mohamed Al-Kuhlani is among the suspected victims in Sanaa with Covid-19. His friends insisted on the awareness of Covid-19. More knowledge is needed on how to keep safe and maintain social distancing. Mohamed’s family said he died as a result of a respiratory infection. He was not tested for Covid-19, but his symptoms matched those of the disease. His father and cousins also died days later and had similar symptoms. However, they were also not tested
Yemen: ‘Dying of Hunger Anyway’
Doctors say for many Yemenis; it is either hunger or Coronavirus. The Yemenis feel they have hit rock bottom as many families here are struggling to get food.
“Doctors don’t scare us with diseases. We are dying of hunger anyway,” said a resident.
Yemenis also question how they are to practice social distancing when they are begging for food. The suffering of the Yemenis is getting worse day by day. Yemen is already the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Over seven million people are malnourished in the country. Two million children are struggling with malnutrition disease. A basic face mask cost half the monthly income of a family of four. It is easy to see why a pandemic seems the least of problems in Yemen.
‘We collect donations to treat people.’
It is not known exactly how many Yemenis have died of Covid-19. However, health workers keep truck of deaths among their colleagues. There is a list of names for doctors who have died so far; the numbers are over 60. Doctor syndicates collect donations to give their health workers the bare minimum of protective gear. They cannot get anything close to international standards, just the basic to keep them moving on.
The war has destroyed around half of Yemen’s health facilities and civilian homes. Those that are still operational are overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases. Besides, a Saudi-led coalition blockade has caused a fuel crisis that has left food pricing skyrocketing. On the road to Sanaa, hundreds of lorries queue for petrol. These lorries carry food aid to be distributed across the north, because of the blockage, barely any fuel in getting in.
The ‘Mercy Injection’
The residents claim that health workers kill the patients who go there sick by giving them a ‘mercy injection’. But for those in the Covid wards, the pandemic is real and has taken a toll on a broken health system. The worst part is the patients arrive at the hospital while in the last stages.
Rumors and Panic are rife amid information blackout is most likely. In the Houthi, the Ministry of the health press conference, nobody wears masks or protective gear. Briefings from the health ministry are rare in the region. The Houthis have only confirmed four Covid cases since April.
“With few mitigation measures in place, there may already have been over 1 million coronavirus infections in Yemen,” said the UK government, Department of International Development.