MSF warns of Covid-19 ‘catastrophe’ in Yemen

A coronavirus “catastrophe” is unfolding in Yemen, medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Thursday, warning that many of those infected with Covid-19 in the war-torn country never even make it to hospital.

The charity’s main facility in the southern Yemeni city of Aden admitted 173 patients between April 30 and May 17, of whom at least 68 have died, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said in a statement.

“What we are seeing in our treatment center is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the number of people infected and dying in the city,” said Caroline Seguin, the group’s operations manager for Yemen. “People are coming to us too late to save, and we know that many more people are not coming at all: they are just dying at home,” she added.

Yemen’s UN-recognised government based in the south has confirmed 180 cases nationwide, with just 29 fatalities. However, the government tally does not include confirmed cases in the country’s north, which is under the control of Houthis.

The increase in suspected coronavirus cases in Yemen is sounding alarms throughout the global health community, which fears the virus will spread like wildfire among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

The World Health Organization says its models suggest that, under some scenarios, half of Yemen’s population of 30 million could be infected with the virus and more than 40,000 could die.