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MSF: Scores died of COVID-19 in southern Yemen in just two weeks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mask-clad health workers enter the private al-Kubi Hospital in Yemen's southern coastal city of Aden, on May 17, 2020, amid fears that the coronavirus is spreading unhindered in the Yemeni city. (Photo by AFP)

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says its main COVID-19 treatment center in southern Yemen has recorded at least 68 deaths in just two weeks.

“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 (Aden),” MSF’s operations manager for Yemen Caroline Seguin said Thursday.  

Since March 2015, Yemen has been heavily invaded by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, trying to restore power to ex-Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

The Saudi coalition also aims to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, whose fighters have helped the Yemeni army defend the country against the invaders.

Ceaseless Saudi airstrikes and the destruction wrought by the kingdom's mercenaries and armed militia loyal to Hadi have wiped out much of Yemen’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories.

The COVID-19 disease has further deteriorated the humanitarian situation in the impoverished country, where 80 percent of the population are reliant on international aid for survival.

Early this week, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that Yemen’s health system was already under heavy stress and would now be overwhelmed “if COVID-19 continues to spread.”

The so-called regime led by Hadi in Aden has since April 10 announced 180 infections and 30 deaths from the coronavirus. 

But the MSF said Thursday that its center in Aden had admitted 173 patients from April 30 to May 17, at least 68 of whom had lost their lives, suggesting “a wider catastrophe unfolding in the city.”

Even so, inadequate testing capacity made it hard to pin down exact numbers but dying patients “clearly have the symptoms of COVID-19”, it said. 

The MSF said endemic diseases like malaria and dengue “never produced so many deaths in such a short amount of time” in the Arab country.

“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,” the medical charity further said.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

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