Coronavirus deaths in Yemen spike as hospitals close down

Yemen coronavirus deaths 'could be in their hundreds', charity warns
3 min read
15 May, 2020
In Yemen, tracking the spread of Covid-19 is made more difficult with people seeking help for symptoms much later than they should, and deaths have spiked in the war-torn country.
Yemen is struggling under the weight of Covid-19 [Getty]

The number of people dying from coronavirus-like symptoms in Yemen has spiked drastically, prompting experts to suggest that infections are far higher than official figures state.

At least 385 people have died in the past week of coronavirus-like symptoms in the southern city of Aden, the charity Save the Children revealed.

This comes as official figures put the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Aden at 41, with five deaths, with the World Health Organisation claiming there are 72 cases nationwide, with 13 deaths.

Such a discrepancy in numbers could make it even more difficult to track and halt the spread of the virus.

Yemen’s infrastructure remains in dire need of support due to war, and there is a lack testing for the virus available in the country.

Only 803 tests have been conducted so far, and test kits are already running low, Erin Taylor, a Save the Children spokesperson told The Washington Post.

While the Saudi-backed government in the south and the Houthis in the north have publicly announced a total of 67 cases and 11 deaths in total, hundreds have reportedly died under mysterious circumstances in recent days.

Aden is a hotspot for the virus, with healthcare workers unwilling to go to hospitals due to the lack of protective equipment, which prevents them from being able to properly test patients coming in with Covid-19 symptoms.

Several hospitals have closed, as hundreds of people died due to respiratory difficulties and fever – both symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

“Covid-19 is pushing this country even further into the abyss,” said Xavier Joubert, Yemen country director for Save the Children, in a statement.

“The surging deaths in Aden suggest that the virus is spreading far faster and further than the number of confirmed cases. Hospitals are closing down and patients [are] being turned away or left to die.”

MSF warns of visiting hospitals when symptoms appear

The medical aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontiere have observed that people in Aden are seeking help for Covid-19 symptoms far too late.

“If, however, you have these symptoms [dry cough, headache, fever and the loss of smell and taste] and start to have difficulty breathing, then it is necessary to seek medical attention as soon possible,” MSF wrote on Twitter.

“What we are seeing in Aden,” they continued, “is that some people are coming to the hospital later than they should do, which makes it much more difficult to treat them.

“Although it is understandable to be scared when you are ill, you should not let fear stand in the way of getting help if you are struggling to breathe.”

Read More: Yemen in Focus: Dozens dying each day in coronavirus 'infested' Aden

Official numbers, MSF confirm, may not be accurate.

“The authorities in #Yemen have announced 85 cases of #COVID19 , and among those 12 people have died.

However, because the capacity to test for #COVID19 in #Yemen is extremely limited, it is impossible to know the full extent of the spread of the virus,” they wrote.

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