Aden declared ‘infested’ city as Coronavirus toll rises to 51

Aden, the interim seat of Yemen’s UN-recognized government, was declared an “infested” city on Monday by the Saudi-backed government, following a rise in new coronavirus cases in the war-torn city.

On Sunday, the Aden-based national coronavirus committee said the southern port city accounted for 10 of the 17 new Covid-19 cases reported, bringing the total number in areas under the control of the Saudi-backed government to 51, with eight deaths.

The committee said there are 10 new cases in Aden, three in Hadhramaut, two in Lahaj and two in Taiz.

In Aden, there has been a total of 35 coronavirus cases reported, and four deaths.

The Saudi-backed government declared Aden  an “infested” city on Monday after the number of coronavirus cases there jumped and clashes erupted elsewhere in the south between separatists and government forces.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is full-blown transmission of the virus in Yemen, whose population has some of the lowest levels of immunity to disease compared with other countries.

The United Nations has warned that the country’s deeply strained health system is unlikely to be able to cope with the spread of the coronavirus.

The coronavirus committee said Aden had been declared an “infested city” due to the spread of the Covid-19 and other diseases after recent flooding. It said movement from the city to other regions was barred with the exception of the transport of goods.

“The administrative and political situation in Aden is also hampering efforts to combat the coronavirus and this should be remedied so relevant entities can carry out their duties,” the committee said on its Twitter account.

In addition to the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing civil war, Yemen is still reeling from the deadly flooding in April which ravaged much of the country, including Aden where eight people were killed.

The aftermath of the flooding is particularly harsh for the displaced Yemenis who have lost shelter, who are at risk of getting ill from diseases that thrive in flooded, unsanitary conditions, such as cholera and malaria, according to the UN.

Furthermore, a funding shortfall in aid means that nearly one million displaced Yemenis are at risk of losing their shelter and access to food and medicine, the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) warned last month, adding that nearly $90m will be needed in order to continue life-saving programmes.

The lack of funding also threatens critical assistance for those “most vulnerable” to the coronavirus in Yemen, according to UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo.