Cairo, Mar 23 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization (WHO) has sent medical aid to Yemen with the help of Saudi Arabia to battle the coronavirus outbreak.
The medical aid was intended for the capital Sanaa, controlled by Houthi rebels, and Aden, where Yemen’s Saudi-backed internationally recognized government is based.
The shipment included protective items for health workers, lab screening tests, trauma medicines and supplies to support the response to the crisis, according to the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO).
“Special thanks to Saudi Arabia who airlifted critical WHO Covid-19 supplies to Yemen,” the WHO EMRO posted on Twitter on Monday.
The move came after persistent calls for assistance from Houthi rebel authorities in the past days.
On Saturday, the Houthis called on international aid agencies to provide support for hospitals and take action against the potential outbreak of the respiratory illness in the war-torn country.
Saudi Arabia controls Yemen’s airspace and only allows the United Nations and international relief agencies to operate flights there.
However, the Houthis suspended those flights a few days ago as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
They also closed roads linking their territory with areas under government control, suspended schools and banned gatherings at weddings and funerals.
Around 80 percent of the country’s nearly 30 million inhabitants need humanitarian aid to respond to basic needs, according to UN estimates.
Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, has a health system decimated by five years of relentless war between the Iran-backed Houthis and the government of president Abdu-Rabouh Mansour Hadi.
Only about half of Yemeni people have access to health services and less than 45 percent can reach functioning hospitals.
Coronavirus first emerged in China in December and has spread around the world with more than 350,000 confirmed cases in 167 countries and more than 15,000 deaths.
The WHO has officially named the disease Covid-19, while the virus which causes it has been called SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
Some of those infected develop the pneumonia-like disease Covid-19, which seems to be more dangerous for those with pre-existing conditions. EFE-EPA