Spotlight: First two COVID-19 deaths spike fears in Yemen's Aden

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ADEN, Yemen, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's health authorities announced registering the first two coronavirus-linked deaths earlier on Thursday, sparking fears among the citizens in the southern port city of Aden.

According to the country's Health Minister Nasser Baoum's statement released by the state-run television, "health departments in Aden registered the first two deaths caused by COVID-19."

The announcement prompted a number of private hospitals in Aden to shut down and stop receiving patients.

An official of Aden's health department told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that "some medical staff left hospitals after the announcement of coronavirus infection."

"Some emergency departments at the hospitals in Aden were noticed empty of nurses and doctors," he said.

He added that "the medical staff apparently left due to the lack of protectives or necessary equipment to deal with the risks of coronavirus."

The departures of medical staff and shutting down of some hospitals owned by local investors would confuse the already shattering health system in the impoverished Arab country, according to the official.

On Wednesday, Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a three-day 24-hour curfew, in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country's southern port city of Aden.

Responding to the recording of five confirmed cases of COVID-19, the STC that's controlling Aden and the neighboring southern cities announced a series of measures to curb the spread of the disease in the main cities.

According to the STC's official website, the measures included imposing full curfew for 72 hours starting at midnight Wednesday local time in all the neighborhoods of Aden in addition to shutting down all the large shopping centers.

Main streets in different neighborhoods of Aden were seen empty following the 72 hours curfew.

All the stores, small businesses, and public markets were seen closed as citizens were forced to stay at homes.

The department of Yemen's Ministry of Endowment and Religious Guidance also banned congregational prayers and closed mosques in Aden until further notice.

On April 10, Yemen's supreme national emergency committee declared that a 60-year-old Yemeni man, who worked in Ash Shihr, was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Yemen's Ministry of Health announced Monday that the first confirmed case had recovered.

Plagued by cholera, malnutrition, and diphtheria, Yemen lacks the ability to cope with deadly epidemics as its five years of civil war has almost destroyed its healthcare system.

According to UN estimates, nearly 80 percent of the population in Yemen require humanitarian assistance and protection.

The country has 10 million people who are a step away from famine and 7 million people who are malnourished. Enditem

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