A Struggle to Contain COVID-19 in War-Torn Yemen

"Yemenis say, if Coronavirus spreads among Yemenis, we won’t be able to count the number of cases like other countries…So even if the disease strikes in my house, I have to get out and face this disease and stand by my people. It is my duty and obligation," said Rammah al Misraa, a Yemeni nursing student who volunteers at the Qahaza checkpoint.

The Yemeni community in the City of Sana'a queued during the distribution of food aid last April. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, ADEN, SANA'A – Cars were lining up at Qahaza checkpoint in Yemen. Amid all the hustle and bustle, Rammah Al Misraa, a nursing student who volunteers at the checkpoint, was busy checking the temperature of the people who were going through the checkpoint.

"We have only one thermometer," Ramaah said to Vice.

Examining body temperature at the checkpoint was a step taken to detect COVID-19 cases. With collapsing health system, the COVID-19 spread will further deteriorate the situation in Yemen, which is already facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

"Yemenis say, if Coronavirus spreads among Yemenis, we won’t be able to count the number of cases like other countries…So even if the disease strikes in my house, I have to get out and face this disease and stand by my people. It is my duty and obligation," Rammah al Misraa told Vice.

As reported by Middle East Eye, the inconsistencies in the actual COVID-19 death toll in Yemen are caused by several factors: a lack of testing, a lack of transparency in the records and the increased prevalence of other diseases such as chikungunya, cholera and dengue caused by heavy flooding in April.

As of 21 May, Yemen’s national coronavirus committee had documented 29 deaths and 180 confirmed cases in the south. However, the civil registration office at Yemen’s interior ministry had listed 623 deaths citing “unknown reasons” since the beginning of May.

Most private and public hospitals in Aden have closed their doors to potential Covid-19 patients. Only Al Amal, partly managed by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Al Jumhuriya, is still admitting them.

Zoha Hadid, a doctor at Al Amal Hospital’s busy quarantine center in the southern port city of Aden juggled with patients amid lack of proper medical supplies and equipment. “It is my responsibility to take care of my patients despite the scarcity of gear," Hadid told Middle East Eye. []