05/22/2020, 12.17
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Covid-19, vicar of Arabia: critical situation in Yemen, escalation of infections and deaths

Archbishop Hinder confirms that the medical emergency linked to the new coronavirus is getting worse. In San’a, Aden and other cities it has reached critical levels. MSF launches an appeal to the UN and donor countries. We need protection and support tools for health workers. High mortality rate, victims between 40 and 60 years old. 68 patients out of a total of 173 hospitalized.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - The health emergency linked to the Covid-19 pandemic in Yemen "is getting worse" in Aden as in the capital and other parts of the country, although "because of the war it is not easy to distinguish between the real extent of the situation and what is propaganda,” says Msgr. Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of southern Arabia (United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen).

The prelate reports that he "heard from people living in Sana'a about an escalation of the virus and a level of criticality" now reached in the facilities hospital.

From the vicarial office in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, where "we are still under a strong lockdown" and where "the restrictions will remain for some time", Msgr. Hinder looks with concern at what is happening in Yemen. Getting reliable news remains difficult, "because there is a tendency to keep the truth hidden from the rulers." The prelate explains that at the moment "there is no contact" with Aden while "I asked our communities in Sana'a to be very cautious and to follow personal protection measures and towards others".

The first case of Covid-19 dates back to April 10; the first two victims on the 30th of the month. In recent weeks, International humanitarian organisations have sounded the alarm about the disastrous repercussions of a COVID-19 epidemic in the Arab nation, torn by a war since 2015 pitting the Saudi-backed government against Iran-supported Houthi rebels.

The conflict has provoked the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world". An outbreak of the novel coronavirus would have even greater devastating consequences.

 Doctors without Borders (MSF) engaged in the front line in the fight against the new coronavirus report that the pandemic in Aden triggered a "health catastrophe". In the Covid-19 city center alone, 68 patients out of a total of 173 patients died in three weeks (April 30-May 17). In the whole city there are an average of 80 deaths every day; before the arrival of the virus there were 10, with an escalation equal to the European cities in the most critical period.

This is why "urgent mobilization of the United Nations and donor countries is increasingly necessary". What we are witnessing, reports MSF coordinator in Yemen Caroline Seguin, is only "the tip of the iceberg. Patients come to us too late to be saved" and "many more people are not coming at all and are dying in their homes. It's a heartbreaking situation."

Many of the patients arrive in the few active hospitals already with severe acute respiratory syndromes, a factor that makes treatment even more difficult. In addition, the large number of health professionals who contracted the disease shows that the virus is now circulating widely. "Funds need to be found - continues Caroline Seguin - to pay operators and provide them with the necessary protective devices", while the country needs "more oxygen machines".

Aden was already collapsing after five years of war and cannot face this emergency alone, there is no money for personnel, personal protective equipment is scarce and there are very few tests. "The high mortality rate - concludes the MSF coordinator - that we see among our patients is equivalent to that of intensive care in Europe, but the people we see die are much younger than in Italy or France. Here are mostly men between the ages of 40 and 60 ".

"I have no difficulty - concludes Msgr. Hinder - in believing the alarm launched by Doctors Without Borders and the dramatic reports that are emerging. What they describe in Aden is true, because this city has lived in the most complete chaos for years".

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