Since the COVID-19 outbreak, experts have warned that the virus is likely to spread faster, more widely and with deadlier consequences in Yemen than in most other countries. Yemen’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed on 10 April in Hadramaut governorate, and since then, there have been 133 additional cases reported in 10 governorates (Aden, Hadramaut, Taizz, Lahj, Abyan, Al Maharah, Shabwah, Marib, Al Dhale’e and Sana’a governorates). As of 19 May, 20 deaths and three recoveries have been reported, with a fatality rate of 15 per cent among confirmed cases. According to OCHA, Yemen’s COVID-19 cases are reported to have increased by 325 per cent since mid-May, and the case fatality rate is one of the highest in the world. IOM, along with the humanitarian community, is responding on the basis of community transmission across Yemen and concerned that the virus will overwhelm Yemen’s weakened health care system and exacerbate endemic vulnerabilities.
Since March 2020, Yemen has instituted several COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures, including restrictions on movements countrywide and closure or partial closure of five international airports, twelve sea border points and three land border points. IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has identified 11 transit points, mainly in Taizz and Al Bayda and Al Jawf governorates, where preventive entry and exit restrictions have been established. To mitigate the impact of these restrictions on programming, IOM has activated its Business Continuity Plan and is maintaining programming across the country. Strict COVID-19 mitigation measures and protocols have been incorporated across IOM’s operations to reduce staff exposure to the virus while maintaining capacity to respond to the crisis. This has been especially critical in Marib, where IOM manages the humanitarian hub and leads the sub-national Health cluster. In Marib, IOM established a dedicated COVID-19 treatment facility, inclusive of an intensive care unit (ICU), and the COVID-19 response is being coordinated by IOM’s health teams, led by a medical doctor (international staff based in Marib). Importantly, progress has been made on ensuring international staff rotations in and out of Yemen — IOM has been able to rotate four international staff into Aden in the past week to support the response.
- International Organization for Migration
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