Middle East countries impose more restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases

Update Middle East countries impose more restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases
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The UAE has imposed a curfew over the weekend. (File/AFP)
Update Middle East countries impose more restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases
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The message "Merci" (thank you) in tribute of those on the frontline to fight the coronavirus disease, is seen on the facade of the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 March 2020

Middle East countries impose more restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases

Middle East countries impose more restrictions amid growing coronavirus cases
  • The number of cases worldwide nearly at 600,000 and deaths climb past 25,000

DUBAI: Countries in the Middle East have taken more containment precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including strict curfew policies and work-from-home campaigns.

The number of cases worldwide topped a half-million and deaths climbed past 24,000 as of Friday morning.

Friday, March 27 (All times in GMT)

21:00 -  Health workers racing to save lives as France contends with one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks have received a huge show of gratitude with the help of the Eiffel Tower.
The Paris landmark also had a message for the broader French public: Stay home.
Lights spelled out “Merci," French for ‘Thank you,” and “Stay at home" in English on Friday night along with the tower's famous sparkling illuminations.

The message "Merci" (thank you) in tribute of those on the frontline to fight the coronavirus disease, is seen on the facade of the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in France, March 27, 2020. (Reuters)

20:37 - President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, after swift and near-unanimous action by Congress this week to support businesses, rush resources to overburdened health care providers and help struggling families during the deepening coronavirus epidemic.

20:25 - US President Donald Trump on Friday signed an order requiring carmaker General Motors Co to produce ventilators to fight the coronavirus pandemic under the Defense Production Act.

In a memorandum released by the White House, Trump said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar would determine the number of ventilators GM must produce. 

20:20 - Brazil's president Bolsonaro says country's economy is "paralyzed" and the country's coronavirus climate of "hysteria and panic has to stop."

20:10 - US President Donald Trump has issued an order in an effort to force General Motors to produce ventilators under the Defense Production Act.

19:25 - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on more than 80 million citizens to implement a "voluntary quarantine" and not to leave their homes unless for basic and emergency needs, as the country's death toll from coronavirus reached 92 on Friday.

Erdogan also announced an end to all international flights, and said pandemic councils will be formed in Turkey's 30 big cities to take additional precautions if necessary.

19:20 - The United States has seen a record 18,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 345 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

There are now 97,028 declared virus cases in the country and there have been 1,475 deaths, Johns Hopkins said.

18:40 - The stars of the movie Contagion on Friday urged fans to listen to experts, wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing.

"That was a movie. This is real life," said Matt Damon, who played someone who was immune to the virus featured in the 2011 film about a pandemic.

Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and Jennifer Ehle teamed up with scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to release public service announcements on ways to contain the virus.

18:25 - US President Donald Trump wished Prime Minister Boris Johnson a "speedy recovery" on Friday after the British leader announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, the White House said.

"The president thanked the prime minister for his close friendship and wished him a speedy recovery," it said in a statement.

"President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson agreed to collaborate closely, along with the G7, the G20, and other international partners, to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and boost the global economy."

The leaders voiced optimism that the United States and Britain would emerge "stronger than ever," the White House added.

17:50 - The UAE reported 72 new cases of coronavirus on Friday. 

17:30 - The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey surpassed the 5,000 mark on Friday, while the death toll reached 92.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 2,069 more confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total to 5,698.

Speaking following a meeting of Turkey's scientific council, Koca also told reporters that 17 more COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours.

A total of 344 are currently in intensive care, he said, including 241 who are intubated. So far, 42 patients have recovered.

17:00 - Turkey limited intercity bus travel and banned walks and fishing along the seashore and beaches, as well as jogging in forests and parks on weekends, as Ankara extended measures against the coronavirus.

Local governors could decide to extend the decision to week days, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said during an interview with NTV news channel. 

16:44 - A pet cat has been infected with the novel coronavirus in Belgium after being contaminated by its owner, Belgian health authorities said Friday.

Cases of contamination of pets are rare and authorities ruled out any risk of contamination to humans from home animals.

16:40 - The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has surged by 919 to 9,134, the Civil Protection Agency said on Friday, easily the highest daily tally since the epidemic emerged on Feb. 21.

Prior to Friday's figure, the largest daily toll was registered on March 21, when 793 people died.

The 919 people who died over the last 24 hours compares with 712 deaths on Thursday, 683 on Wednesday, 743 on Tuesday and 602 on Monday.

The total number of confirmed cases rose to 86,498 from a previous 80,539, taking Italy's total past that of China, where the coronavirus epidemic emerged at the end of last year.

The United States already surpassed China's tally of cases on Thursday.

16:35 - World Bank President David Malpass on Friday said poorer countries will need debt relief or restructuring so they can fund their fights against the coronavirus pandemic, and said the World Bank would present a debt-relief approach in April.

16:25 - England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty says after experiencing symptoms compatible with the coronavirus last night, he will be following government guidance and self-isolating for seven days. READ MORE ON BORIS JOHNSON'S COVID-19 POSITIVE TEST.

16:05 - French PM announces two-week extension of lockdown, until April 15.

15:55 - Britain said it was working fast on plans to build more ventilators to help handle the coronavirus outbreak, hoping manufacturers can build larger amounts and do so more speedily.

"The prime minister spoke to a dozen of the companies involved to thank them for all their work so far and to discuss ways that the Government could support them to build ventilators more quickly and in greater quantities for the frontline in the coming weeks," Boris Johnson's Downing Street office said.

Some companies are also working on new designs.

"Any new orders are all dependent on machines passing regulatory tests, but the Government, manufacturers and regulators are working at pace to drive this work forward," the government said.

15:50 - London's second-busiest airport, Gatwick, said on Friday it would shut one of its two terminals next week following a collapse in flight numbers and government restrictions on unnecessary trips.

15:45 - Saudi Arabia’s King Salman discussed on Friday efforts to fight coronavirus with China's President Xi Jinping during a telephone call.

The king congratulated the president on his country's efforts to fight the virus and said that it was important to learn from China’s experience of combating the pandemic.  

15:30 - Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Donald Trump that China "understands the United States' current predicament over the COVID-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday.
The White House said only that the two leaders spoke on the phone Thursday and “agreed to work together to defeat the coronavirus pandemic and restore global health and prosperity.”
According to the Chinese news agency, Xi also urged Trump to take “substantive action in improving bilateral relations.”

15:20 - President Donald Trump says the federal government has purchased ventilators from a number of companies, and the names and numbers would be announced later on Friday. He also called on GM to begin manufacturing more and "fast."

14:55 - Coronavirus infections in Italy have yet to reach their peak, the head of the country's national health institute said on Friday, as officials warned that lockdown restrictions would have to be extended beyond April 3.

Italy has reported 8,215 deaths from the illness, more than anywhere else in the world, while confirmed cases total 80,539, with latest data from Thursday showing no let up in new infections, stifling hopes of a possible turnaround.

14:40 - Death toll from virus tops 25,000 globally, most in Europe.

13:50 - Donald Trump makes a Twitter attack on Republican lawmaker Massie who is considering tactics to delay house vote on coronavirus relief bill, adding the Kentucky representative should be thrown out of the Republican party.

13:20 – Dutch coronavirus cases rise by 1,172 to 8,603 with 112 new deaths.

13:10 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock announce that they have tested positive for coronavirus. FULL STORY HERE.

12:40 – Saudi health ministry reported 92 new coronavirus cases, 10 of them arrived from outside the country and the remaining cases were in contact with coronavirus cases. The total number of coronavirus cases has reached 1,104, of which 6 are in critical condition. Meanwhile two patients have recovered, bringing total number of recoveries to 35.

12:25 – The number of coronavirus deaths in Israel has reached 11.

12:20 – Russia’s unique policy response to the coronavirus pandemic will put pressure on the credit ratings of its banks, Moody’s forecast on Friday, while Standard & Poor’s said the banking system has adequate capital and liquidity buffers.

12:15 – Switzerland said the number of coronavirus cases has reached 12,161, with 197 deaths.

WATCH: Morocco undertakes sterilization measures as part of the country’s effort to combat the spread of coronavirus. Video posted by @RTwittoma on Twitter 

11:45 – Iraq health ministry reported 76 new coronavirus cases.

11:20 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for coronavirus and was self-isolating but would still lead the government’s response to the outbreak. READ THE STORY

11:00 – Iraq is tightening curfews imposed on Sadr City due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Baghdad Operations Command said; 20 new coronavirus cases were reported in Najaf. 

10:50 – Lebanon health ministry reported 23 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 391.

10:45 – Spain reported 769 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 4,858, while cases rose to 64,059 froom 56,188 on Thursday.

WATCH: Up to 44 road-cleaning trucks were deployed in Riyadh to clean and to sterilize streets as part of the Kingdom’s precautionary efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus. Twitter video by @Amanatalriyadh

10:45 – International tourist arrivals to plunge up to 30 percent in 2020 due to coronavirus, the UN said.

10:25 – Bahrain reported 17 new coronavirus recoveries, bringing total to 227.

10:10 – France’s prime minister raised the alarm Friday over an “extremely high” surge in coronavirus cases in the country and warned that the situation would be “difficult in the days to come.”

09:55 – Tunisia’s health ministry reported 30 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected cases to 227.

09:40 – Iran’s health ministry said the number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 32,332 and 2,378 deaths. FOR THE STORY

People have their temperature checked as they enter the Palladium Shopping Center, in northern Tehran, Iran. (AP)

09:30 – Kuwait health ministry reported 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 225.

09:25 – Seven new coronavirus cases were recorded in Palestine, bringing the total to 91, a government spokesperson said.

09:25 – Oman has reported 22 new coronavirus cases.

09:15 – A shaken South Africa on Friday announced its first two deaths from the coronavirus as the country’s cases rose above 1,000 and a three-week lockdown began, with some police screaming at the homeless on emptying streets. READ THE STORY

09:10 – Malaysia reported 130 new coronavirus cases; there are now 2,161 cases in total.

09:00 – Indonesia has confirmed 153 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily rise so far and taking the Southeast Asian country's total to 1,046, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said/

08:45 – The Philippines reported nine new deaths due to COVID-19, and 96 more infections.

08:40 – The Vietnamese government said it aims to keep the number of coronavirus cases in the country below 1,000.

WATCH: A round-the-clock curfew helped Jordan to contain the coronavirus outbreak, one of the countries to have successfully done so. Video from Twitter user @eyad_saif

08:40 – Hong Kong confirmed 65 new cases of coronavirus infections, the state’s biggest daily rise.

08:30 – Malaysia announced a stimulus package worth 250-billion ringgit ($58.28 billion) on Friday, its second in a month, to help cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic. READ THE STORY

08:15 – India’s central bank cut interest rates sharply Friday as the coronavirus outbreak deepens fears for Asia’s third largest economy, which was already battling a prolonged slowdown.

07:20 – Russia suspended operation of tourist facilities, hotels until June 1 due to coronavirus. Moscow reported 196 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 1,036.

07:00 – China has reported 55 new coronavirus cases, and five deaths.

06:45 – Hungary’s Viktor Orbán will impose restrictions on going out in the streets between March 28 and April 11 due to coronavirus, radio reports noted.

WATCH: Beirut resembles a ghost town as Lebanon extends its coronavirus lockdown by two weeks until April 12. Courtesy @whatsuplebanon Instagram

06:05 – Egypt’s health ministry has reported 39 new coronavirus cases and three deaths, bringing the total number of infected patients to 495. FOR THE STORY

06:00 – Israel’s health ministry reported its ninth coronavirus death, the number of infected cases in the country was now at 2,693.

05:50 – The UAE’s private-sector should allow only a maximum 30 percent of its workforce to report physically for work starting Sunday, March 29, while the rest would be working from home, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said. READ THE STORY

05:35 – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 42,288, deaths to 253, Robert Koch Institute monitoring shows.

05:30 – US President Donald Trump said on Friday he spoke with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and discussed “in great detail” the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed more than 24,000 people globally.



05:30 – Kuwait health ministry has reported 8 new coronavirus recoveries, bringing the number of recovered cases in the country to 57.

05:00 – Uzbekistan reports first death of coronavirus patient, the country’s healthcare ministry said.

04:25 ­– Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro decreed Thursday that places of worship are ‘essential services’ that must be exempted from coronavirus confinement orders, the far-right leader's latest jab at aggressive containment measures.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed with local authorities who have closed schools and businesses in a bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. (AFP)

03:35 ­– Thailand has reported 91 new cases of COVID-19, raising toll to 1,136. READ THE STORY

03:30 – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country would tighten enforcement of self-isolation for citizens returning from overseas. Defense forces will be deployed to support different states and territories in Australia, according to Morrison, to enforce self-isolation.

01:20 – South Korea has reported 91 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total infections to 9,332.

01:10 – A Mexican health official said the total number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 585.

Thursday, March 26 (All times in GMT)

20:45 – Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management has launched move.gov.ae, a dedicated website where residents can request permission to leave their homes during the sterilization period.

16:50 ­– Oman’s Ministry of Health announced the country has entered the community transmission stage of the virus, warning people to expect a rise in infections in the coming days.

16:05 – The UAE National Media Council (NMC) announced only a maximum of 30 percent of the workforce of non-government media outlet in the country are allowed to work from offices during the 3-day sterilization program. NMC has called on media institutions to dedicate resources to educating the public about the coronavirus and how to prevent its spread.