Well over half of Yemen’s population, or 16 million residents, could be infected with the novel coronavirus, Yemen Social Fund for Development Monitoring and Evaluation Head Lamis Al-Iryani said in an event live-streamed by the United States Institute of Peace.
“It is estimated that 16 million of Yemenis will be infected with COVID-19”, Al-Iryani said on Wednesday, raising the possibility that the global infection rate could be five times higher than what is currently known. “This is 55 percent of the population in a country where there are only 700 ICU [intensive care unit] beds and 500 ventilators”.
The official number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Yemen is 17 with 12 deaths, while the global number of cases has exceeded 4.4 million with nearly 300,000 deaths.
Al-Iryani said infection numbers in Yemen were grossly misrepresented by the inadequacies of testing.
“For a population of 30 million in Yemen, only slightly above 800 coronavirus tests have been conducted. In one day in Aden, south of Yemen, more than 60 deaths were reported, with no mention of cause except for breathing problems”, Al-Iryani said.
“It has been reported that some hospitals have denied access to several suspected cases due to fear of the spread of infection”, she added.
Al-Iryani said five years of war in Yemen has also put the country at a greater risk to the pandemic.
“Food prices have increased, remittances have been reduced and international aid has been cut. Yemenis fear hunger more than contracting coronavirus. Like many other poor nations, we have to go out and make a living while authorities are asking us to stay home, but don’t provide us with food rations”, she said.
he World Health Organisation says Yemenis have among the lowest levels of immunity to diseases compared with people from other countries, making them far more vulnerable to a pandemic like the COVID-19.