Coronavirus: Yemen’s Houthis report first coronavirus case, a death in Sanaa hotel

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Authorities in Houthi-held north Yemen confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus on Tuesday, a Somali national found dead in a Sanaa hotel, while the government in the south of the war-torn nation reported nine
new infections.

One of the last countries to declare COVID-19 infections on April 10, Yemen has now reported 21 cases, including 3 deaths, in territory held by the internationally recognized government, and one case, a death, in areas under the Iran-aligned Houthis.

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“We received a report about a situation in a hotel (in the capital Sanaa) on Sunday and epidemiological investigation teams went there immediately, where the affected person had died,” Houthi health minister Taha al-Mutawakkil told Al Masirah TV.

Read more: Coronavirus: Yemen records nine new cases, one new death, raising total to 21

The deceased Somali had underlying liver and kidney problems, the minister said, adding that a sample had been tested in a laboratory for COVID-19 infection.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, has long been a transit point for migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa, many of whom are fleeing hunger and violence and trying to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Before the first COVID-19 case in Houthi territory was announced, the United Nations had said it feared the coronavirus could be spreading undetected across the country among an acutely malnourished population with inadequate testing capabilities and protective equipment.

On Tuesday, the emergency coronavirus committee belonging to the government - temporarily based in the southern port city of Aden - said that eight new cases had been detected in Aden and another in the Hadhramout region.

The Aden-based emergency coronavirus committee had voiced concern that Houthi officials were not admitting to a coronavirus outbreak in Sanaa.

The World Health Organization has said it fears COVID-19 could rip through Yemen as the population has some of the lowest levels of immunity to disease compared with other countries.

Minimal testing capacity has added to concerns. The WHO said on Tuesday just 200 tests for infection with the coronavirus had been carried out and results received across Yemen.

Around 80 percent, or 24 million people, rely on humanitarian aidand 10 million are at risk of starvation. Disease is rife.

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