© Reuters. Nurses receive training on the use of ventilators provided by the WHO to prepare for the possible spread of COVID-19 in Sanaa
DUBAI (Reuters) – There is a "very real chance" that the new coronavirus will be in circulation in Yemen, the United Nations said Tuesday, warning that a lack of tools is at risk of efforts to fight the virus in one of the most vulnerable Would affect countries.
The war-torn nation, whose population has been weakened by widespread hunger and disease, has reported a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case, but fears a devastating outbreak due to inadequate testing and a destroyed health system.
The UN aid chief's office in Yemen said that because of transmission patterns in other countries, and 17 days have passed since Yemen reported its first case, "The authorities warn that there is now a very real chance that this will happen Virus has been spread undetected and unrestricted within communities ".
"This increases the likelihood of an increase in cases that can quickly overwhelm health capacities," said a statement.
The case, announced on April 10, a 60-year-old port official, has since recovered and tested negative for the virus, Yemen's Coronavirus Committee said on Monday.
However, the authorities informed Reuters that they were unable to track down “patient zero”. This is an important step in tracking down people who may be at risk of infection and who have an outbreak.
Yemen is struggling with the world's largest humanitarian crisis after a five-year war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi group, which has ousted the internationally recognized government from power in the capital, Sana'a.
Around 80% of the Yemeni population or 24 million people are in need of help, and 10 million are suffering from famine. Yemen has the fourth highest internally displaced person in the world and health care in rural areas is scarce.
In such conditions, the virus could spread quickly and the funding gap increases the risk. The statement said that 31 out of 41 major humanitarian programs in the United States will be scaled back or stopped without further funds in the coming weeks.
A major donor, the United States Agency for International Development, cut funds last month because of concerns that the Houthi authorities are hindering aid distribution. The group that controls most of the major urban centers dismissed the charges as unfounded.
In mid-April, the World Food Program (WFP) announced that it had halved food aid to Houthi-controlled areas.
The refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday that it had received only 28% of the funds needed this year and needed $ 89.4 million to help more than 3.6 million displaced people, foreign refugees and host communities.
A senior US official recently told Reuters that the United States is preparing an "essential contribution" to support Yemen's coronavirus efforts.
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