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Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency AL-MUKALLA: Yemen declared 10 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including two deaths, pushing the total number of cases to 22 as the Houthis were criticized for being secretive about the spread of the disease in their territories. The Aden-based supreme national emergency…

Yemen records 10 new coronavirus cases as Houthis attacked for lack of transparency

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen declared 10 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including two deaths, pushing the total number of cases to 22 as the Houthis were criticized for being secretive about the spread of the disease in their territories.

The Aden-based supreme national emergency committee announced nine new cases in Aden and Hadramout, including one death.

The Iranian-backed Houthis also announced a new case of a Somali national who was found dead at a hospital in Sanaa.

Yemen recorded its first case of the virus on April 10. The patient recovered and returned home after staying in local quarantine for two weeks.

The increase in the number of cases began early this week when several cases were detected in the port city of Aden.

New cases have been found in the densely populated city of Taiz and in Sanaa. The announcement of the surge in the number of cases comes as 201 doctors in Aden on Tuesday sent an urgent appeal to the Ministry of Health, the separatist Southern Transitional Council that controls Aden and military units in the city, urging them to immediately put the city under 24-hour lockdown, prepare quarantine centers in the city’s districts and provide them with protective items.

“The situation is grave,” Dr. Wafaa Dahbali, Al-Sadaqa Hospital manager and one of the doctors who signed the appeal, told Arab News. “There are at least four deaths in each district in Aden for people suffering from respiratory problems,” she said. Local health facilities could not determine the cause of the deaths due to a severe shortage of swabs, she said.

Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital, slipped into violence last month when the Southern Transitional Council announced self-rule in Aden, disrupting the return of the internationally recognized government and bringing efforts to fight the spread of the virus to a standstill. The council’s last move to impose a complete lockdown in Aden has failed as people flocked the streets.

In Sanaa and other densely populated provinces in northern Yemen, Yemeni government officials and residents have attacked the Houthis for being secretive about the number of coronavirus cases in areas under their control amid reports of hundreds of patients with severe respiratory problems swamping hospitals.

Residents in Sanaa told Arab News that squads of armed Houthi men had sprung up in some districts, sealing off streets and ordering people to stay indoors as workers in vehicles and on foot disinfected streets.

“They blocked Hayl market and Jamal and Sanena streets for two days,” a resident told Arab News on condition of anonymity for fear of Houthi reprisals. “We are worried that there might be so many unannounced cases,” the resident said, adding that Sanaa’s streets were bustling with people and vehicles.

Amateur videos posted on social media on Monday showed armed men blocking a street in Sanaa as an ambulance took away a patient. Healthcare workers in Sanaa who spoke to friends outside Yemen or to local media outlets said that most of the suspected coronavirus cases have been taken to Kuwait hospital as rebels pressure doctors not to disclose information. Doctors in Sanaa did not respond to calls from Arab News.

Yemeni politicians warned that without sharing information and capabilities between health offices across Yemen, none of the Yemeni warring factions would be able to stem the spread of the disease in their territories.

“Neither the Houthis nor the Transitional (council) or the government can cope with the disaster without communication and exchange of information between their health institutions,” Mustapha Noman, a former deputy foreign minister, said on Twitter on Tuesday.

 

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US announces $225 million in emergency aid to Yemen

RABAT: Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese…

RABAT: Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese drone company DJI.Moroccan firms have been using drones for years and Qamous says it “is among the most advanced countries in Africa” for unmanned flight, with a dedicated industrial base, researchers and qualified pilots.But restrictive regulations have long limited civilian drones to specific applications such as filming, agriculture, monitoring solar panels and mapping.That changed rapidly as the novel coronavirus swept across the world.In recent weeks, authorities have employed drones to issue warnings, identify suspicious movement in the streets and disperse illegal rooftop and balcony gatherings.A strict lockdown imposed in March has not been uniformly respected, with local media reporting on nighttime gatherings of neighbors and collective prayers on roofs, beyond the view of street patrols.Last week local authorities in Temara, a town near the capital Rabat, launched a high-precision aerial surveillance system developed by local company Beti3D, which previously specialized in aerial mapping.Other countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have also adopted technology deployed in China since the start of the pandemic, whether for tracking the movements of citizens, disinfecting public spaces or facilitating deliveries.“Drones have quickly emerged as a vital technology for public safety agencies during this crisis as they can safely monitor public spaces,” according to the website of DJI, by far the world’s top drone maker.Like most countries, Morocco primarily uses imported Chinese drones. But the emergence of new applications linked to the pandemic is also driving local production of specialized aerial vehicles.“There is real demand,” said Abderrahmane Krioual, the head of Farasha, a startup that has raised funds to produce drones for thermal surveillance and aerial disinfectant spraying.The aeronautics department of the International University of Rabat (UIR) offered its facilities, expertise and prototypes to authorities in March, deploying drones with loudspeakers or infrared cameras able to detect movement at night or spot individuals with high temperatures.Several projects are underway across the country ahead of the widespread deployment of various models of drones, said Mohsine Bouya, the university’s director of technology development and transfer.Teams are also developing tracking applications, but “we’ll have to wait for a change to the law” before launching them, he said.Moroccan authorities declined to comment on the use of drones or the numbers deployed since the start of the public health emergency in mid-March.Unlike in some countries, the use of surveillance drones has not sparked public debate in Morocco, where the kingdom’s authoritarian response to the pandemic is widely supported.Morocco closed its borders early and tasked law enforcement with imposing strict confinement measures on the population.They include movement restrictions and the compulsory wearing of masks, with a nighttime curfew since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — enforced by a heavy police presence.Those found guilty of violating lockdown measures face one to three months in prison, a fine equivalent to $125, or both.Officials say 59,000 people have been prosecuted for breaching lockdown measures.Authorities say the measures have limited transmission of the virus, with 5,382 COVID-19 cases reported including 182 deaths since the state of emergency was announced.But the kingdom’s high number of arrests — some 85,000 people by April 30 — has drawn criticism from Georgette Gagnon, director of field operations at the United Nations’ Human Rights Office.Last week she listed Morocco among countries where repressive coronavirus measures have created a “toxic lockdown culture.”Morocco disputed this, saying its measures were “in line with legal frameworks respecting human rights.”

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Coronavirus: UAE-India repatriation flights to have 9-seat isolation zone

Passengers are requested to report to airport at least four hours in advance for medical screening. Evacuation flights from the UAE to India on Thursday will have an onboard ‘isolation zone’. Both the 186-seater Air India Express planes will fly 177 passengers each on Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Dubai-Kozhikode sectors. This will allow for creation of…

Passengers are requested to report to airport at least four hours in advance for medical screening.

Evacuation flights from the UAE to India on Thursday will have an onboard ‘isolation zone’.
Both the 186-seater Air India Express planes will fly 177 passengers each on Abu Dhabi-Kochi and Dubai-Kozhikode sectors. This will allow for creation of a bunch of nine empty seats at the back, which will serve as an isolation zone, Khaleej Times has learnt. 
Also read: 6,500 pregnant women to fly back home
Among precautionary measures, all crew will wear personal protective equipment on the flights.
While the flight from Abu Dhabi departs at 4.15 pm to Kochi, service from Dubai will leave at revised time of 5.10 pm for Kozhikode.
Passengers are requested to report to airport at least four hours in advance for medical screening and IGM/IGG test.
Additionally, each passenger, at the time of boarding would be handed over a safety kit containing two three-layered face masks, two pairs of gloves and pouches/small bottles of hand sanitisers.
“While on board the flight, the health protocol of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of India will be strictly followed. This would include wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene etc. to be observed by the airline staff, crew and all passengers,” the Indian Embassy said.
Ashwani Kumar

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Saudi e-sports charity tournament aims to raise $10m for COVID-19 relief

SEOUL: The new baseball season began in South Korea on Tuesday with the crack of the bat and the sound of the ball smacking into the catcher’s mitt echoing around empty stadiums. After a weeks-long delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, umpires wore protective masks and cheerleaders danced beneath rows of unoccupied seats as professional…

SEOUL: The new baseball season began in South Korea on Tuesday with the crack of the bat and the sound of the ball smacking into the catcher’s mitt echoing around empty stadiums.

After a weeks-long delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, umpires wore protective masks and cheerleaders danced beneath rows of unoccupied seats as professional baseball got back on the field.

There were many faces in the stands in at least one stadium, but they were pictures instead of real people because fans aren’t allowed into the venues — at least for now.

Instead, it was easy to hear players cheering and shouting from the dugouts. And it was a relief to fans watching from home in a country that is now attempting to slowly return to pre-COVID-19 normalcy amid a waning caseload.

The country’s professional soccer leagues will kick off Friday, also without spectators in the stadiums.

As one of the world’s first major professional sports competitions to return to action amid the pandemic, the Korea Baseball Organization has employed various preventive measures aimed at creating safe playing environments.

Players and coaches will go through fever screenings before entering stadiums, while umpires and first- and third-base coaches must wear masks during games. Players are prohibited from signing autographs or high-fiving teammates with bare hands.

Also, chewing tobacco was banned to prevent spitting, while masks and latex gloves will be required at training facilities.

Fans will be barred from games until the KBO is convinced the risk of infection has been minimized. If any member of a team tests positive for the coronavirus at any point of the season, the league will be shut down for at least three weeks.

“I feel great,” said Cho Ki-hyun, a 65-year-old SK Wyverns fan who shared a mattress with three other fans outside the walls of the team’s stadium in Incheon, watching the game against the Daejeon-based Hanwha Eagles with a tablet computer. “I am delighted just to hear the sounds of a baseball game from outside.”

The teams tried to create a festive atmosphere in the empty stadiums.

In a game in the capital, LG Twins defeated crosstown rival and defending champion Doosan Bears 8-2 at Jamsil Stadium, where the outfield seats were decked with huge banners of the Twins’ cheering slogans.

Twins outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, who spent some time with the Baltimore Orioles, hit the league’s first home run of the season in the third inning, a two-run shot off Bears starter Raul Alcantara. 

As he rounded the bases, Kim extended a hand toward third-base coach Kim Jea-gul, who raised his arm but stayed out of contact.

The Wyverns imitated a home crowd in Incheon by covering their outfield seats with rows of horizontal banners showing faces of fans wearing the team’s hats and masks. They still lost 3-0 to the Eagles, who won their first season opener in 11 years with former Detroit Tigers pitcher Warwick Saupold hurling a two-hit, complete game shutout.

In Daegu, the city worst hit by the virus, the Samsung Lions used their huge scoreboard to play video messages from players, celebrities and fans thanking doctors and medical staff fighting the outbreak, which overwhelmed the city’s hospitals in late February and March before slowing in recent weeks. The Lions fell to the Changwon-based NC Dinos 4-0 in a game that was broadcast on ESPN.

The Seoul-based Kiwoom Heroes routed the host Kia Tigers 11-2 in Gwangju, handing former San Francisco Giants slugger Matt Williams his first loss as a manager in the KBO.

Park Byung-ho, who had a short stint with the Minnesota Twins, smacked a two-run shot for the Heroes in the eighth and used his gloved right hand to slap the hands of his first- and third-base coaches before switching to fist bumps and elbow dabs in the dugout.

The Busan-based Lotte Giants defeated the KT Wiz 7-2 on the road in Suwon.

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