Middle East coronavirus - first death in Egypt and Bahrain F1 to take place without spectators

Medical staff in protective gear distribute information sheets to Iraqi passengers returning from Iran at Najaf International Airport. (AFP)
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Updated 09 March 2020

Middle East coronavirus - first death in Egypt and Bahrain F1 to take place without spectators

  • The UAE's health ministry said over 620 school buildings and 6,000 buses were sterilised
  • Kuwait’s Health Ministry has denied rumors on social media about the death of an elderly woman from coronavirus

DUBAI: Countries across the Middle East were on high alert as the disease continues to spread around the world. Governments have asked people to follow precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of the virus, including avoiding crowded public spaces.

Sunday, March 08 (All times in GMT)

21:45 – A third person in the UK infected with coronavirus has died. The patient was over 60 years old and had significant underlying health conditions.



21:40 Riyadh Boulevard and Winter Wonderland in the Saudi capital have been closed over coronavirus fears.

20:20 – Qatar bans arrival from 14 countries in an attempt to stop coronavirus spreading to the country.

20:10 – France bans all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.

19:55 – Saudi Arabia announces the suspension of all educational and Quranic activities inside the Kingdom's mosques, Al Ekhbariya reported.

18:30 – Saudi Arabia has closed all schools and universities from Monday in response to the coronavirus. The education ministry said teachers would have to use distance learning techniques to continue lessons.

17:50  Israel is considering measures that would require anyone arriving in the country to go into home quarantine for 14 days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

17:30 – Italy coronavirus death toll shoots up to 366 from 233 the day before.

17:10 – France says it has has recorded 1,126 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 deaths in total.

16:55  Thirteen Americans quarantined in a West Bank hotel on suspicion of having caught the coronavirus have tested negative.


READ MORE: OPINION: Iran’s epidemic of lies and disinformation


16:50 – Egypt announces its first death from the coronavirus epidemic - a 60-year-old German tourist.

16:40 – Alitalia said on Sunday it was suspending national and international flights to and from Milan's Malpensa airport from March 9 after the government ordered a lockdown of large areas of northern Italy to stem coronavirus contagion.

16:20 – Egyptian crew and foreign passengers on a Nile cruise ship on which 45 suspected novel coronavirus cases had been detected disembarked Sunday in the southern city of Luxor.
The health ministry has said the 45 would be quarantined even though 11 of them had tested negative in follow-up tests.

prepare to transport suspected coronavirus cases that were detected on a Nile cruise ship in Luxor. (AFP)

15:43 – Iraq confirmed two further deaths due to the coronavirus, taking the total number to six, the state news agency reported on Sunday.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to 54 so far, according to health officials.

13:45 – Anthony Fauci, the US's head of the infectious diseases unit at the National Institutes of Health, says signs of coronavirus spreading through communities were "not encouraging" and warned that Americans may need to think carefully about attending large gatherings if it continues.
"I think we're getting a better sense (of the scope of the outbreak) as the days go by," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

13:35 – The US Army said on Sunday it has decided to restrict travel to and from Italy and South Korea due to coronavirus outbreaks, and will also prohibit foreign troops from participating in US exercises, exchanges and visits in the most affected nations.

13:04 – Morocco has suspended flights to Italy's Milan and Venice over coronavirus concerns.

12:25 – Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior announced on Sunday that it will suspend movement to and from Qatif as a precaution to the spread of coronavirus.

The ministry has also temporarily shut down government and private sector work premises in the governorate.

11:52 – Kuwait has announced two new coronavirus cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the country to 64.

11:50 – Italy’s Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora called Sunday for an immediate suspension of the Serie A season due to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 233 people in the country.
“It makes no sense right now, as we ask citizens to make enormous sacrifices to prevent the spread of the virus, to endanger the lives of players, referees, coaching staff and fans who will surely gather to watch the matches, by not temporarily suspending football,” he wrote in a statement on his Facebook page.

11:44 – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Algeria increased to 20.

11:16 – Qatar has announced three new coronavirus cases in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 15.

10:38  Iran reports 49 new coronavirus fatalities, bringing death toll to 194 people amid 6,566 confirmed cases.

10:35 – Bangladesh confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus in the country, said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
The affected people are aged between 20 and 35 and two of them returned from Italy recently, IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina told reporters. 

10:03 Indonesia confirmed on Sunday that two more people had tested positive for the coronavirus, taking the total of confirmed cases in the country to six.
One of the Indonesians is a 36-year-old male, a crew member on the Japan-docked Diamond Princess cruise ship where he contracted the virus, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a news briefing.

09:10 – Saudi Arabia’s health ministry announces  four new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 11. Three of them were in contact with a previous case who had traveled from Iran.

08:30 - Bahrain says its Formula One race this month will be for ‘participants only’ without spectators over coronavirus fears.

07:43 - Kuwait announced a new coronavirus case, bringing the total number to 62.

05:12 - Italy has closed cinemas, theatres, museums nationwide in virus lockdown, a government official said.

04:42 - More than 15 million people were placed under forced quarantine in northern Italy early Sunday as the government approved drastic measures in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Twitter he had signed off on plans to strictly limit movement in and out of large areas including Venice and the financial capital Milan for nearly a month.


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

03:50 - In Oman, chartered flights between the country and Egypt have been suspended for a month, the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) announced.

"After coordination with the competent authorities, the Public Authority suspended irregular (chartered) flights between the Sultanate and the Arab Republic of Egypt, starting Sunday, for a period of one month,” PACA said in a statement.

Saturday, March 07 (All times in GMT)

19:41 - The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention held a press conference on Saturday to discuss the preventive measures it took against the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The ministry explained the procedures taken with regards to the UAE Tour’s participants. The quarantined contacts included 26 hotel visitors, 56 athletes and 236 hotel staff, the ministry said.

The ministry added that over 620 school buildings and 6,000 buses were sterilised.

Meanwhile, more than 168,000 students started to benefit from the pilot programme across the country, the ministry said.

This video explaining how COVID-19 transmits person to person was produced by the World Health Organisation

17:51 - Kuwait’s health ministry has denied rumors on social media about the death of an elderly woman from the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

15:32 - Kuwait's health ministry called on people arriving from seven countries to observe a mandatory 14-day home quarantine from the date of departure.

The seven countries are: India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

11:50 - Oman's Ministry of Health said it had decided to postpone all international conferences and events.

"Within the framework of the efforts exerted by the Ministry to tackle the Coronavirus disease, the Ministry has recommended the suspension of all gatherings, events, and international conferences in the Sultanate, which hosts participants from outside the Sultanate until further notice," Ministry of Health said.

Coronavirus crisis in Egypt has benefits

A man travels on a scooter past the closed El-Sayeda Zainab Mosque in Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 31 March 2020

Coronavirus crisis in Egypt has benefits

  • The Central Bank of Egypt has directed all local banks to delay the collection of credit liabilities for six months without any rates or fines

CAIRO: People around the world are living in uncertain times as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread. Fatalities and infections are rising as cities and countries go into lockdown.
Egypt is under a partial lockdown, forcing people to stay, work and learn at home. Yet behind this massive change and a fear of the unknown, COVID-19 has brought advantages.
Ever since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi decided to close schools and universities for two weeks, starting on March 15, respect for the government has increased, especially on social media.
“Suddenly the government is laying down a series of preemptive actions to slow down the spread of the virus,” Mohamed Badr, 32, a Cairo resident, said. “They disregarded the economic impact and focused on the safety of the people which made us all proud.”
There have been diplomatic gains. China’s Ambassador to Cairo Liao Liqiang said that China and Egypt are partners and true friends, lauding Egypt’s support to Chinese efforts to combat the virus.
The Central Bank of Egypt has directed all local banks to delay the collection of credit liabilities for six months without any rates or fines.
The government’s order to shut down cafes and malls during curfew hours has led to a ban on the smoking of hookahs.
With fears over infections and with a dusk-to-dawn curfew in place, there is less consumption of unhealthy food.
There are fewer road accidents too. In 2018, there were 8,480 road accidents, according to the Bureau of Statistics. The number is expected to plunge this year due to the drop in vehicles on the road.


Ever since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi decided to close schools and universities for two weeks, respect for the government has increased.

Working from home is the new normal. The culture of work from home is forcing its way in society as many learning technologies and cloud solutions are connecting homes and workplaces.
“When I used to invite people for a Zoom meeting they were surprised. Today, it’s a normal practice and many clients actually prefer this option,” a sales representative in Cairo said.
And with school and college students stuck at home, educational institutions have quickly taken up distance learning.
With millions of people now stuck in isolation, many are using the opportunity to get creative. Videos on social media show people developing hobbies, tricks, cooking skills and paintings.
Corporations are accelerating digital transformation. Several companies are racing to implement digital and cloud technologies to manage their businesses remotely. Several telco and financial institutions pushed their services online and through contact centers rather than branch visits.
Doctors are finally getting some credit. They have long called for better salaries and benefits but their requests have fallen on deaf ears. The virus has now brought some hope for a better package in the near future.
The environment is cleaner and less polluted. And now, everyone has more time to reflect.