Officials in Aden have reported at least 385 people have died over the last week with Coronavirus-like symptoms. That’s over 50 deaths a day, a fivefold increase from the 10 deaths a day reported before the 7th May.

Several hospitals in Aden have closed down, and health staff are refusing to go to work for lack of proper protective equipment, as the Coronavirus spreads in Yemen, Save the Children warns.

From this week, the two main public hospitals are open but only providing emergency services, treating patients with fever but not those showing respiratory symptoms.  Patients admission is suspended, even for paediatric services, and only urgent gynaecological and obstetric services such as deliveries are still operating.
Most private hospitals in Aden have also closed or are only treating chronic cases with no respiratory symptoms or fever. Already, people have reportedly died because they could not get the treatment they needed.

Our teams on the ground are seeing how people are being sent away from hospitals, breathing heavily or even collapsing. People are dying because they can’t get treatment that would normally save their lives. There are patients who go from hospital to hospital and yet cannot get admitted. We're hearing of families who have lost two or three loved ones in the past few weeks. These are all signs of a pandemic getting a grip on the country. The treatment centres we support are doing everything they can to get ready for what is to come, but we need protective equipment, beds, ventilators.

Mohammed Alshamaa Save the Children’s Director of Programmes in Yemen

Aden is currently facing the threat of conflict and lethal diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and COVID-19. The spike in patients who died after showing symptoms such as respiratory issues, fever and weakness raises concerns that the number of coronavirus infections in the city might be considerably higher than reported.

As of May 13, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Aden is 41, including 5 deaths. Three more cases have also been reported in Taiz and Ibb. Nationwide, the World Health Organisation put the total number of confirmed infections to 72 cases, with 13 deaths. The health infrastructure in the country is hardly equipped to handle the outbreak. Up until the outbreak, only half of the health facilities in the country were fully operational and that number has gone down since hospitals are closing. There are only 500 ventilators in Yemen, and just four labs for the whole country that do coronavirus testing. As of May 2, the number of reported Covid-19 tests completed was 200.

Some existing health facilities have been re-purposed into isolation centres. 38 Covid-19 isolation units have been set up across the country, and there are 520 ICU beds in total available for COVID19 patients.
Save the Children is supporting four isolation units and some 75 health facilities across the country, and it’s raising awareness about prevention measures against COVID-19

Still no ceasefire

The warring parties have hopelessly failed to implement a lasting ceasefire and that is directly leading to a spike in deaths, both from Covid-19 and other diseases – for which they should be held accountable. The violence needs to stop so the Yemeni people, health workers and aid organisations can focus on curbing the virus.