The new coronavirus is believed to be spreading throughout Yemen where the health care system “has in effect collapsed”, the United Nations said on Friday. Yemeni authorities have confirmed scores of infections, and 30 deaths but the UN said the real figures are almost certainly much higher.
The country’s health system has been damaged by years of civil war and ventilators are in short supply.
“Aid agencies in Yemen are operating on the basis that community transmission is taking place across the country,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a Geneva briefing.
He said people were being turned away from treatment centres partly because staff lacked protective equipment.
War-ravaged Yemen, whose malnourished population has among the world’s lowest immunity levels to disease, is divided between the Saudi-backed government based in Aden and its foe, the Iran-aligned Houthi group, in the north.
Mr. Laerke warned that a lack of testing disguised the real infection numbers in Yemen.
“The actual incidence is almost certainly much higher. Tests remain in short supply. Aid agencies in Yemen are operating on the basis that community transmission is taking place across the country.”
Mr. Laerke said Yemen’s economy was also suffering and efforts to combat the pandemic would fail without urgent help.
“If we do not get the money coming in, the programmes that are keeping people alive and are very much essential to fight back against COVID-19 will have to close.
“And then the world will have to witness what happens in a country without a functioning health system battling Covid-19. And I do not think the world wants to see that,” Mr. Laerke said. (Source: BBC)