Houthis 'conceal true coronavirus toll in Yemeni areas they control'

Rebels hide numbers to avoid public panic, says Yemen Health Ministry official

epa08413498 A Yemeni vendor (C) wearing a protective face mask sells fruits at a market amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, in Sanaa, Yemen, 10 May 2020. According to reports, the World Health Organization (WHO)'s staff activity has been suspended in the Houthi-controlled northern part of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa, amid concerns over the ongoing coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
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The Houthi rebels in Yemen are covering up the real number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the provinces under their control, a government official says.

Dr Eshark Al Subaei, a deputy of the Yemeni Minister of Health, told The National on Monday that the Iran-backed rebels have been hiding information about a surge in cases in Sanaa and other provinces.

“Dozens of Covid-19 cases were detected in Sanaa in the past three weeks," said Dr Subaei, who is also spokesman for the Supreme National Emergency Committee for Coronavirus in Yemen.

"But the Houthi rebels cover up the truth because they think that announcing the real number of detected cases will spark a public panic and that will affect recruiting new fighters to boost their fronts.

“I received many calls from residents in Sanaa appealing us to help. Many citizens called me even from rural areas in northern Sanaa.

"They complained of a surge in the death rate among the people in their areas as the Houthi militia refuses to receive the suspected cases in the public hospitals."

He said doctors in hospitals across Sanaa had seen many positive Covid-19 cases, and that the Houthis were threatening medical workers not to reveal information about infection rates.

The rebels have announced only four Covid-19 cases, all of them in Sanaa, and one death.

The Yemeni government also accused the rebels of covering up the numbers on Sunday.

“Reports indicate a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in areas under the Houthis' control,” Abdul Raqib Fatah, Minister of Local Administration, said in a briefing.

“Concealing such information is completely unacceptable."

Activists on social media on Saturday posted photos of a team in personal protective equipment taking covered corpses from an ambulance and burying them in mass graves in an isolated area.

The activists said the bodies were those of Covid-19 patients in Ibb province, northern Yemen.

Meanwhile, the emergency committee reported two new Covid-19 cases in the province of Shabwa, raising the total for the nine provinces under the government control to 130.

Twenty of those patients have died.

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