DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen’s Saudi-backed government reported the first coronavirus case in Marib province and four other infections elsewhere, taking the tally of cases in areas under its control to 70, including 12 deaths.
The Aden-based government’s coronavirus committee said two cases including one death were reported in Aden, and two in Lahej, including one death.
Yemen is divided between the internationally recognised government based in the south and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement headquartered in the north. The Houthis ousted the government from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
The Houthis have so far reported only two infections, with one death, from the novel coronavirus, both in Sanaa.
The World Health Organization says 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 five-year-old war has shattered Yemen’s health system and left its population weakened by hunger and disease. Around 80% of the population, or 24 million people, rely on humanitarian aid and 10 million are at risk of starvation.
Yemen’s first case was declared on April 10 in a southern port town and the Aden government has now reported infections in eight provinces under its control.
The United Nations said this week a recent sharp rise in cases indicated the virus had been circulating undetected for weeks, increasing the likelihood of a surge in cases.
(Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Angus MacSwan)