COVID-19 rapidly spreading
COVID-19 continued to spread rapidly and with deadlier consequences in Yemen. Between 10 April, when the first COVID-19 case was reported, and 28 June, the authorities announced 1,122 cases, 303 deaths, and 432 recoveries.
About 25 per cent of Yemenis confirmed to have the disease have died, 5 times the global average. More than 75 per cent of confirmed cases are men and people aged between 45 and 59 have the highest case fatality rate. The highest number of confirmed cases are in Hadramaut, where 317 cases have been reported, including 126 deaths and 62 recoveries were reported, followed by Aden, where 264 cases, including 32 deaths and 185 recoveries, were reported. There is evidence of COVID-related displaced in some areas. According to the IOM’s Data Tracking Matrix, close to 1,000 families have moved out of fear of COVID-19 in southern governorates since mid-May, mainly from Aden. Most families have moved to rural areas including in Lahj and Abyan and are staying in second homes or with host families. Marginalized and migrant groups are particularly vulnerable. There are reports of migrants being blamed for spreading COVID-19, with some pushed out of certain areas. These anti-migrant sentiments are also contributing to people not seeking medical care.
Reports continue to indicate that individuals with mild and moderate symptoms are often not seeking treatment until they are critically ill. Fear of stigma, concerns about safety, inability to access testing, and the perceived risks of seeking care may explain why people are not seeking treatment earlier. Those with severe symptoms are being turned away from health facilities that are full or unable to provide safe treatment.
Although resources are limited, aid agencies have scaled up the COVID-19 response through the 4S Response Strategy, which prioritizes suppression of virus transmission; procuring and distributing medical supplies; saving lives by supporting clinical readiness; and safeguarding the public health care system. Aid agencies require $180 million (with US$49.1 already received) for the COVID-19 response.
To scale up suppression of the transmission of the virus, the number of community volunteers increased from 14,000 in May to more than 19,000 in June. Volunteers continue to raise awareness about COVID-19 across the country. An additional 6,000 mother-to-mother community volunteers were also activated. Under the supplies line of effort, more than 12,000 metric tons (MT) of medical equipment, testing kits and medicine were procured with 8,616 metric tons of these already arrived in the country. An additional, 43 MTs of medical supplies arrived in Yemen in June facilitated by Hayel Saeed Anam Foundation on behalf of the International Initiative on COVID-19 in Yemen (IICY), a collaborative private-public sector partnership of multinational companies and the United Nations. WHO has equipped and added 21 ICUs to the existing 38 ICUs in COVID-19 designated hospitals since the beginning of May. Partners are deploying two high capacity mobile field hospitals with nearly 100 beds, and providing salaries to 9,000 frontline health care workers.
Safeguarding the public health system at more than 4,300 non-COVID health care facilities to ensure services are not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases is another priority. The focus is on providing the “Minimum Service Package” at these facilities and essential medicines to those in most need; responding to other deadly diseases including cholera, diphtheria, dengue and malaria; and providing nutrition treatment to pregnant women and malnourished children.