Yemen’s COVID committee has urged the government to declare a public health “ state of emergency ” amid a surge in infections.
War-ravaged Yemen received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, the United Nations children’s agency said, a week after the country’s coronavirus committee warned of an “emergency »Public health.
AstraZeneca vaccines “will enable health workers and other priority populations vulnerable to COVID-19 to be protected against the virus,” UNICEF said in a statement Wednesday.
UN and government officials received the doses in the southern city of Aden, which has been the temporary capital for the past six years due to the conflict between the government and the Houthi rebels, who control Sana’a.
This first batch is one of 1.9 million doses Yemen will receive throughout 2021, UNICEF added.
Yemen’s coronavirus committee last week urged the government to declare a public health “state of emergency” amid a increased infections.
He called for the implementation of a “partial curfew” and the closure of wedding halls, shopping malls and mosques outside of prayer times.
Médecins Sans Frontières (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) also warned that the number of critical COVID-19 patients was increasing across the country, calling for help from donor countries and specialist groups.
MSF “is seeing a dramatic influx of critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization in Aden, Yemen, and many other parts of the country,” the medical charity said.
“We urge all medical humanitarian organizations already present in Yemen to rapidly step up their emergency response against COVID-19,” said Raphael Veicht, MSF head of mission in the country.
Yemen has officially recorded more than 4,000 cases of the virus among its 30 million people, including 863 deaths – but experts believe the true toll is likely higher.
“The arrival of COVID-19 vaccine doses is a critical moment for Yemen,” Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF representative in Yemen, said on Wednesday.
“As COVID-19 continues to claim lives around the world, Yemen now has the capacity to protect those most at risk, including health workers, so they can safely continue to provide life-saving interventions for children and families. ”
The country has been mired in a disastrous war for over six years which has left it on the on the verge of famine. Its health system is in ruins.
Adham Ismail, the representative of the World Health Organization in Yemen, said the shipment of vaccines was a significant step forward.
“This will help save lives, including those most at risk for serious illnesses, and help protect the health care system,” Ismail said.
“These safe and effective vaccines will be a game-changer, but for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, physically move away and avoid crowds.”
A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in 2015 to strengthen the government, and since then the conflict has killed tens of thousands, mostly civilians, and displaced millions.
The United Nations calls the situation in Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.