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09 Apr 2020 | 10:01 AM UTC

Yemen: Government closes border with Saudi Arabia over COVID-19 concerns April 8 /update 2

Yemen closes only border crossing with Saudi Arabia over COVID-19 concerns April 8; confirm travel itineraries

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YEM

Event

According to local sources, Yemeni authorities decided to close the Al-Wadia border crossing, the country's only remaining border crossing with Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday, April 8, due to concerns over coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This decision comes after the Saudi-led coalition announced a two-week ceasefire across Yemen from Thursday, April 9. The ceasefire will be effective from 12:00 (Saudi Arabia time). Saudi officials stated that this will allow the Houthi rebel group to join UN-backed peace talks between them and Yemen's government, and allow Yemen to address the spread of COVID-19.

Local authorities in Hadhramaut governorate announced an indefinite curfew on Thursday, April 2, due to fear of the spread of COVID-19. The curfew will be in place from 16:00 to 04:00 (local time) in all major cities in Hadhramaut.

Despite there being no recorded cases of the virus in the country, at least five Yemeni provinces have begun releasing dozens of prisoners to protect them from the illness.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus. 

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.