Yemen: Qat markets in Taiz operating as normal despite fears of COVID-19 spread

Qat markets in Taiz, southwestern Yemen, have not lost their momentum despite fears of spreading COVID-19 as people can be seen flocking to the busy markets in footage from Saturday. «When the Yemenis chew qat, they feel euphoric, comfortable, and feel reassured. It is the qat that relieves them of some of the pains they feel, and it's fact,» said Badeel al-Sharabi, a qat buyer at one of the city's busy market where large numbers flock to buy the stimulant plant, despite the fears that chewing it in group and spitting it could contribute to spreading COVID-19 amongst people. Dozens of people can be seen in the market buying the popular stimulant plant whilst disregarding the recommended social and hygiene preventive measures to help curb the virus outbreak. Houthi health ministry spokesperson Yousef al-Hadari has warned against qat markets, calling the crowds a «catastrophe.» «If someone is infected, like the seller or customer or even the bags or cash, this could lead to disaster,» he said. Though Yemen has only reported 705 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 160 deaths, the United Nations has warned the disease may be spreading largely undetected in the war-torn country.​

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