Coronavirus: Relief in Aden as mortality rate falls to ‘normal’

After peaking in May with thousands of cases, the number of people who die in the city each day has returned to roughly the same as before the pandemic

People perform a burial at the Qutay cemetery in the Crater district of Yemen's southern coastal city of Aden on May 5, 2020. Yemen's healthcare system has been blighted by years of war that have driven millions from their homes and plunged the country into what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. / AFP / Saleh Al-OBEIDI
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The number of deaths a day in Yemen’s Aden is dropping, a senior official has said as he assured the public that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic was over.

Maj Gen Sanad Jamil, the head of Aden’s Civil Status Department, said that the number of deaths per day had been dropping through June after peaking in May. In Yemen, there is limited testing capacity and although the official toll of Covid-19 as of Thursday was only 1,221 confirmed cases, 325 deaths and 513 recoveries, thousands are believed to have caught it. The UN has warned as many as 16 million people in Yemen may get the virus.

"Based on a daily tracking we have carried out during June, we announce that the mortality rate in Aden has got back to normal," Maj Gen Jamil told The National. "The daily death rate decreased from a peak of 70 a day in May to 40 deaths a day in the middle of June 2020. We recorded 17 deaths on Tuesday, June 30, which is the normal daily mortality rate we usually record in the city."

He said that these deaths had mostly been the elderly, those with chronic diseases and from kidney failure not related to Covid-19.

Doctors too confirmed that the worst appeared to have past.

"The health situation in Aden has been improving recently," Dr Jamal Khadabakhish, the former director of public health in Aden, told The National. "I can confidently say that there is a fast decline in the pandemic outbreak, especially in Aden. We didn't record any new cases in the city on Tuesday. This means that the pandemic is sharply shrinking."

He said that people in the city had been slow to take on board the warnings from officials but had adapted quickly.

“People realised the importance of the home quarantining and social distancing, so many of those who contracted the virus quarantined themselves and cured themselves at home. This turned to be an accumulative health culture that helped the medical authorities to stem the pandemic,” Dr Khadabakhish explained.

On the streets of the city, the hustle and bustle of life has returned after months of hardship caused by the pandemic and heavy flooding earlier in the year.

Restaurants, malls, resorts and hotels reopened after weeks of being shut.

"Alhamdulillah, we started breathing the sigh [of relief] after months of fear and anxiety," local resident Amal Mohsen told The National while shopping at Al Hijaz mall in Al Mansourah city on Tuesday.

“We don’t hear the Covid-19 horrific stories anymore, this is a blessing. I remember the back days we lived, listening to the terrifying stories of the many deaths caused by the pandemic on a daily basis – that was such a nightmare,” Ms Mohsen said.

But concerns over a second wave remain.

Yemen's Supreme National Emergency Committee for Covid-19 reported 31 new infections on Thursday, most of them in the south-eastern province of Hadramawt.