‘Worst fears confirmed as first COVID-19 case hits north of Yemen’
The first case of COVID-19 has now been confirmed in the north of Yemen, in the capital Sana’a. According to the Ministry of Health there are now at least 21 confirmed cases and three deaths in the country.
Xavier Joubert, Country Director of Save the Children, said:
“This is the worst-case scenario we have been fearing: the coronavirus is spreading across the country and has now reached the north of Yemen, home to some of the most vulnerable children and families in this humanitarian catastrophe.
A ceasefire must happen immediately. Since COVID-19 started tearing across the globe, warring parties in Yemen have failed to lay down their weapons, but this is a wakeup call they cannot ignore.
After five years of war and with only half of the health facilities across the country fully functional, Yemen is simply not equipped to handle a full-scale outbreak. The violence must stop so the Yemeni people, health workers and aid organisations can focus on slowing the spread of virus and mitigating its impact, and supporting families in need with food and clean water.
So far 200 people have been tested for COVID-19[i], but we do not know the true scale of the outbreak. We need to focus on awareness raising and making sure people know which measures are needed to limit the spread of the virus, including contact tracing and isolation measures. Expert staff must be allowed to travel to all affected parts of Yemen to provide much needed support for these interventions. It’s the only way to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
None of this can be done if the fighting continues, if people are afraid to go outside to seek help and if health workers are at risk of attack. The violence needs to stop, now, before the outbreak becomes out of control.”
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