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In Aden Yemen, coronavirus mortality rates are worse than war deaths



Anwar Motref helped his brother-in-law Hmeid Mohammed find a hospital bed in his last days. Now,  Mohammed's children are in his care.

Al Radwan’s funeral has rapidly expanded over the past few months, with new graves creeping closer to the residential buildings bordering it. “You can see my excavator,” Saleh said. “I just dug up 20 graves.”

Local medical authorities said that the death rate in Aden jumped this year, despite the relative calm in the war that damaged the place in previous years.

In the first half of May, the city recorded 950 deaths – nearly four times the 251 deaths throughout March, according to a Ministry of Health report.

The 950 deaths in two weeks in May represented almost half of the total casualties suffered by the city in 2015, when the country’s civil war raged.

At that time, Aden was devastated by heavy fighting, the streets were blown up by rockets and his houses were filled with bullets. Now the city’s biggest killer is silent.

On top of Covid-19, there is also an outbreak of a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes, known as Chikungunya virus, and more than 100,000 cases of cholera are known throughout the country. Many malnutrition centers and hospitals were closed due to lack of funds and doctors’ concerns about their personal safety from coronavirus. Flash floods this spring destroyed the city’s electricity grid.

“Yemen has faced war and cannot deal with three pandemics, economic collapse and war and the corona virus,” Dr. Ishraq Al-Subei, the health official responsible for the response to the disease, told CNN.

The official death toll of Covid-19 in southern Yemen is only 127. Health workers said they did not know the true number, due to low testing capacity. But the huge surge in deaths in Aden is seen as a warning of a coming of worse, as the health sector becomes overwhelmed and more people die from treatable diseases.

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Chasing the hospital bed

Hmeid Mohammed, 38, experienced a painful journey that began with a mild fever at home.

His family could not find a hospital to take when his fever began to increase rapidly in early May. He was in a coma when he was treated by the only hospital in Aden designated to treat Covid-19 at the time.

“They revived him,” recalls Anwar Motref’s brother-in-law.

He was diagnosed with meningitis, another common disease in Yemen. As soon as he showed signs of improvement, the doctor advised him to leave the hospital so as not to be infected with Covid-19.

About a week later, his health deteriorated. Once again, the family went to a different hospital in an effort to get him treated, but with little success. Finally they found him on a bed in the emergency ward that he shared with six other people. Fluid filled his lungs and his kidneys failed.

The family has funds for medical treatment, but the Aden hospital is closed or full. The hunt for admission to a hospital that could carry out surgery and dialysis in time to save him failed.

Mohammed died in late May, robbing his three children and widow of the only bread winner.

“Who is to blame for all this? We don’t have a government or state or anyone to help us in this country,” Motref said at the family home on the rocky hill around Aden.

“To whom should we complain? We are bored with this life. Every morning we wake up to hear 10-15 people die,” he added.

Loss of aid and a collapsing health sector

The weapons in Aden have calmed down in recent months but the Yemen war has not disappeared.

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Five-year conflict has begged the nation. At present more than half of the population depends on assistance for survival.

But the UN now faces a potentially catastrophic shortage of funds – around $ 1 billion – for this year. This is a warning of the collapsing health sector and the possibility that the number of Yemeni deaths could continue to increase dramatically – perhaps exceeding the total number of deaths during the five years of war, when the country experienced what it considered “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

“We are short of one billion from our minimum target,” Lise Grande, head of UN humanitarian operations in Yemen, told CNN. “So, in Covid’s time what this meant was that we would see about half of the hospitals that we currently support in this country being closed – and that would happen in just the next few weeks.

“One week before the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Yemen, we ran out of money and had to stop the benefits of 10,000 frontline health workers across the country. In the middle of Covid, this was very devastating,” he added.

There are only 60 hospital beds dedicated to Covid-19 in Aden, which has a population of around 800,000. These are in two hospitals operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The city has 18 ventilators, all of which continue to be used, according to MSF.

Doctors and aid workers say that most patients seek treatment at the hospital in the final stages of the disease, when it may be too late to save them. And in most cases, there is no capacity to care for them.

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“Most cases are rejected because there are no ventilators available,” Dr. Farouk Abduallah Nagy, head of the isolation department at Gomhuria Hospital, told CNN.

Anwar Motref helped his brother-in-law Hmeid Mohammed find a hospital bed in his last days. Now, Mohammed's children are in his care.

“The health sector was already weak before the outbreak. And it’s getting worse and worse. The health sector is collapsing,” said Caroline Seguin, MSF communications officer in Aden.

Out of town, fighting between southern separatists and the government is raging, complicating the impact of the ongoing five-year war between Houthi rebels in the north and the coalition supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the south.

More than 112,000 people have been killed in air strikes, shootings and bombings, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).

Hundreds of thousands of people have been moved to camp as refugees from the war. There they face the risk of endemic diseases, malnutrition, and overcrowding – all conditions ideal for the spread of diseases such as Covid-19.

Mokhtar Ahmed, who is from the northern port city of Hodeidah, came to a camp on the outskirts of Aden three years ago.

“Cholera and war are one thing and corona is something else,” he told CNN, flanked by his two children.

“With war, we move from place to place and we stay … But with the corona, wherever you go, it will find you.”

Ahmed Baider contributed to this report from Sanaa. Mahmoud Nasser and Mohammed Khaled contributed to this report from Aden.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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