Middle East takes more precautions as world tackles coronavirus

Middle East takes more precautions as world tackles coronavirus
There have been a number of closures of major events, as fears continue surrounding coronavirus. (File/AP/Anmar Khalil)
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Updated 10 March 2020

Middle East takes more precautions as world tackles coronavirus

Middle East takes more precautions as world tackles coronavirus
  • More than 110,000 people have been confirmed to have the new coronavirus
  • Etihad Airways suspends flights to Saudi Arabia to stem the spread of COVID-19

DUBAI: Governments in the Middle East have taken more precautionary measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, including travel restrictions, work and class suspensions, and quarantines.

Monday, March 9 (All times in GMT)

21:10  Tunisia suspends all levels of education from Thursday, according to a health ministry statement

21:00 – Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health announced on Monday evening five new cases infected with coronavirus, increasing the total number in the Kingdom to 20.

20:15 – Egypt's health ministry says the number of coronavirus cases has reached 59, up 21 on the day before.

19:45 – Iran has temporarily freed about 70,000 prisoners to combat the spread of the coronavirus in jails. Iran on Monday reported 595 new infections and 43 new deaths within the past 24 hours. This takes total cases of coronavirus to 7,161, with 237 deaths

A nurse wears protective gear in a ward dedicated for people infected with the new coronavirus, at a hospital in Tehran. (AP)

19:35 –  Iraqi authorities have ordered the closure of Najaf province, home to holy Shiite sites, for non-residents starting on Wednesday for a week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

19:00 - France's Minister for Culture is infected with coronavirus, it was reaveled on Monday. His condition is said to be stable.

18:45 - Israel will impose a two-week quarantine on all travellers entering the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, as the new coronavirus spreads.

"After a day of difficult discussions, we have taken a decision -- all those coming to Israel from abroad will be placed in isolation for 14 days," Netanyahu said in a video broadcast on his Twitter account.

18:15 - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei canceled his Persian New Year speech on Monday due to concerns over the virus.

18:00 - Iraq took precautionary measures on Monday by telling citizens to avoid mass gatherings while also telling visitors from certain countries to remain in quarantine.

17:50 - The death toll in Europe from the coronavirus topped 500 on Monday, after Italy recorded a sharp rise. Italy's civil protection agency reported 97 new deaths, bringing the country's toll to 463, as the country takes a series of stringent measure to battle the spread of the virus.

The number of Europeans killed by the virus now stands at 511, according to an AFP toll.

17:20 - Pop singer Madonna on Monday called off two concerts in Paris, the last dates in her Madame X world tour, after French authorities banned large gatherings to stem the coronavirus spread.

"It is with profound regret that we are announcing the cancellation of the last two Madame X shows," the venue for the March 10 and 11 shows, the Grand Rex concert hall, announced on its website.

In this file photo taken on December 9, 2015, US singer Madonna performs during a concert at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. (AFP/File)

16:30 - Prisoners took to the roof of a Milan jail on Monday as part of a string of violent country-wide protests against coronavirus measures, in which six convicts have died. FULL STORY HERE.

15:45 - A fourth person in the UK has died from coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday in a statement to parliament.

"Here in the UK, as of this morning, there were 319 confirmed cases, very sadly this now includes four confirmed deaths," Hancock said.

UK's health minister Matt Hancock (C) confirmed a fourth death in Britain on Monday. (AFP)

Germany also announced that two people died from the virus in the western German city of Essen and virus hotspot Heinsberg, officials told AFP on Monday, the country's first casualties of the outbreak.

15:10 - Tunisia announces 3 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, while Lebanon recorded 8 new cases of the virus which takes the total number of infected in the country to 41.

Qatar also announced three new cases, meaning the total number of cases there has reached 18.

15:00 - Kuwait announced the extension of school closures in the country to March 26.

14:30 - Disneyland Paris says a male backstage cast member has tested positive for COVID-19 but that the park will remain open.

The staffer, who was not named and whose age is not known, was already on sick leave when Disney was notified about the infection Sunday. He is receiving treatment.

Meanwhile, French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte walked down the Champs-Elysees avenue in a move to send a message of confidence to the French economy amid the coronavirus crisis.

13:10 – The UAE announced that five patients have recovered from coronavirus.

13:00 – Oman has reported two new cases of coronavirus on citizens who visited Iran.

12:55 – Oman suspended flights to and from Italy for a period of a month over coronavirus fears.

12:40 – Jordan and Palestine were coordinating the possible closure of border bridges connecting them over fears of the new virus.

12:30 – Saudi Arabia announced a $10-million donation to support the World Heald Organization in its fight against coronavirus, following a directive from King Salman.

11:50 – Ismail Najjar, the head of Iran’s National Disaster Management Organization, was the latest coronavirus patient in Tehran, Al-Arabiya has reported.

11:50– Egypt said that 12 coronavirus patients have recovered, while 43 others continue to receive treatment.

11:25 – UAE announces 14 new cases of coronavirus, including four Emiratis, three Italians, a Syrian and an Indian, among new cases of coronavirus, state news agency WAM reported.

10:50  The Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch lighting ceremony would be held without spectators, Greek Olympic Committee announced.

10:45 – Iran state TV said new coronavirus has killed another 43 people, pushing death toll to 237 amid 7,161 confirmed cases.

10:40 - Saudi authorities announced that it would impose a fine of up to $133,000 on those who do not declare correct health-related information at entry points, Al-Arabiya news channel reported.

10:05 – Bahrain’s Ministry of Health said on Monday there were 24 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 95 infections.

10:00 – Iran has released approximately 70,000 prisoners because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, Iranian judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, according to Mizan, the news site of the judiciary.

“The release of the prisoners, to the point where it doesn't create insecurity in society... will continue,” he said.

Raisi did not specify if or when those released would need to return to jail.

10:00 Qatar announced on Monday it was suspending schools and universities from Tuesday, March 10 to control the coronavirus outbreak, according to the state news agency.

09:45 – Iran’s former deputy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Ferzad Tazari died of coronavirus, Al-Arabiya reported on Monday.

08:30 – Singapore will allow a cruise ship carrying about 2,000 people to dock after it was barred by Malaysia and Thailand over coronavirus fears, officials said Monday. The Costa Fortuna was turned away from the Thai holiday island of Phuket and the Malaysian state of Penang in recent days, despite having no suspected virus cases among its passengers and crew.


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08:30 – South Korea reported 96 new coronavirus cases on Monday, taking the country’s total infections to 7,478, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The updated numbers added to the 69 recorded earlier in the day, showing the rate of increase slowed to its lowest in 11 days.

08:00 The annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has been postponed until June 28 – July 1, 2020 amid coronavirus concerns – the exhibition was due to take place in Dubai in April.

The ATM is a major event that allows the travel and tourism industry to showcase plans for new hotels, flights and other tourism announcements.

07:45 Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced on Monday it has temporarily suspended all flights between the UAE capital and Saudi Arabia, following a directive from the Kingdom’s General Authority for Civil Aviation, over fears of coronavirus.

07:30 – Kuwaiti Ministry of Health says it has 906 people quarantined so far amid coronavirus fears.

07:25  Kuwait on Monday said it has recorded three further cases of coronavirus within the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 65 infections.

06:35 Bahrain’s Gulf Air suspended all flights to and from Saudi Arabia until further notice. The carrier made the announcement on their twitter account.

Sunday, March 8 (All times in GMT)

23:55  Saudi Arabia has announced four new cases of coronavirus, bringing total number of infections to 15.

The Ministry of Health said the new cases include a Saudi national, two Bahrainis and an American.

The Kingdom has also suspended travel for Saudi citizens and foreign residents to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Italy and South Korea.

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