ADEN (AFP) – Deaths in Aden have surged to at least five times higher than normal, an NGO and medics say, igniting fears that the coronavirus is spreading unhindered in the Yemeni port city.
Six years of war against the Huthis — and a widening fault-line among forces opposed to that rebel outfit — have left authorities ill-equipped to control the spread of the virus.
The first coronavirus case in Aden, the government’s interim capital, was only recorded about a month ago.
But since then, the total number of deaths registered in the city has “increased seven-fold”, according to Saddam al-Haidari, a physician at a public hospital.
Hospitals have stopped admitting patients with symptoms of the COVID-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus in recent days, several health sources told AFP, since they are not equipped to deal with the virus.
Many doctors in Aden have deserted their posts because they don’t have access to protective gear, these sources added, while several hospitals have even closed down, according to Save the Children.
“Our teams on the ground are seeing how people are being sent away from hospitals, breathing heavily or even collapsing,” said Mohammed Alshamaa, Save the Children’s director of programmes in Yemen.
“People are dying because they can’t get treatment that would normally save their lives.”