Middle East at a standstill as coronavirus grips the world with rising cases

Countries in the Middle East have adjusted their policies to curb the spread of the virus. (File/AFP)
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Updated 31 March 2020

Middle East at a standstill as coronavirus grips the world with rising cases

  • The virus has so far infected around 722,000 globally

DUBAI: Containment measures, including curfews and the closure of public places, were still in place on Monday across the Middle East, as coronavirus  infections continue to emerge.

Countries have adjusted their policies to better curb the spread of the virus, which has so far infected around 722,000 people globally. 

Monday, March 30 (All times in GMT)

18:37 - Italy will extend its lockdown at least until April 12 to help curb novel coronavirus infections that have already claimed 11,591 lives, the health minister said.

18:10 - The UAE extended the validity of government services that expired early March for three months, including documents, permits and licenses.

17:40 - Egypt reported a new coronavirus death, bringing the total to 41, and 47 new confirmed cases, bringing the total of 656.

17:30 - Social distancing? That won't stop the Backstreet Boys from having fun - the boys have reunited via video to sing one of their classics...

17:15 - Tributes have been paid to British-Sudanese doctor Amged El-Hawrani, who was one of the first senior medics in the UK to die after contracting coronavirus. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

17:00 - Britain will spend up to £75 million ($93 million) to get stranded passengers home, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Monday, adding that airlines like British Airways, easyJet and Virgin would help and planes would be chartered where necessary.

British government’s chief scientific adviser says there is evidence nationwide lockdown measures are working to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Patrick Vallance says the number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 is rising steadily, “suggesting we’re not on a fast acceleration at the moment.”

16:35 - Qatar recorded 59 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 693.

16:20 - The death toll in Italy climbed by 812 to 11,591, the Civil Protection Agency said, reversing two days of declines in the daily rate.

However, the number of new cases rose by just 4,050, the lowest amount since March 17, hitting a total 101,739 from a previous 97,689.

16:10 - Turkey's numbers continue to rise, with the death toll rising by 37 on Monday to hit 168 in total, and the total number of cases rose by 1,610 to reach 10,827 across the country.

See a graph below of Turkey's outbreak before today's announcement...

15:55 - The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the United Kingdom rose to 1,408, according to figures released on Monday, an increase of 180, a smaller rise than the previous set of numbers.

14:30 - Egypt announces the first death of a doctor in the country from coronavirus.

13:45 - King Salman has ordered free treatment be provided to all coronavirus patients in all government and private health facilities in Saudi Arabia. READ FULL STORY HERE.

13:15 - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban secured extra powers to fight the coronavirus with an open-ended mandate on Monday after parliament passed a law submitted by his government with a strong majority of the ruling Fidesz party.

12:45 – Saudi Arabia has recorded 154 new coronavirus cases.

12:30 – The coronavirus pandemic has left tens of thousands of Indian garment workers stranded in cramped accommodation on factory premises where social distancing is difficult to put into practice, labour rights campaigners said on Monday.

12:25 – Iraq extended coronavirus curfew in Karbala until April 11.

11:15 – Jordan recorded a new coronavirus death, bringing the total to four. The patient was a woman in her 80s with pre-existing heart conditions.

10:45 12,298 health works in Spain have tested positive for coronavirus.

09:40 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, is self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms just days after the British leader himself tested positive.

09:35 – Coronavirus cases in Iran have reached 41,495, with casualties at 2,757.

09:35Spain’s coronavirus cases rose to 85,195 on Monday from 78,797 on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said.

09:30 – Belgian virus death toll passed 500, with 12,000 cases, an official said.

08:50 – Indonesia confirmed 129 new coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the total to 1,414 in the Southeast Asian country, said a health ministry official.

08:25 – Morocco has reported new coronavirus deaths and cases, increasing the totals to 27 and 516.




A Moroccan policeman orders a bread vendor to cover his cart, pack his goods and return home as part of lockdown measures against the coronavirus pandemic Rabat. (AFP)

08:25 – Iraq’s Ministry of Health has recorded two new coronavirus deaths.

08:20 – Palestine has confirmed seven new coronavirus cases, bringing the toll to 115.

08:15 – The Philippines has  reported seven new coronavirus deaths, and 128 new infections. READ THE STORY

08:10 – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a 21-day “total” lockdown from Monday curtailing movement within the country, shutting most shops and suspending flights in and out of the country.

08:05 – Bahrain has reported 15 new cases of coronavirus, while 7 patients have recovered.

07:50 – Moscow on Monday imposed a lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin asked regional authorities to make similar preparations.

07:30 – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will enter isolation for a week, Israeli media reported Monday morning, after his parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch tested positive for the coronavirus overnight.

06:20 – Thailand has reported two new coronavirus deaths, bringing total to nine, according to the country’s public health ministry.

06:00 – The Kuwaiti health ministry said five cases of coronavirus have  recovered, bringing the total to 72

05:00 – Japan will step up its efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus by banning the entry of foreign citizens traveling from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe, the Asahi newspaper reported on Monday. READ THE STORY

04:55 – Coronavirus cases in Germany has risen to 57,298 so far, with 455 deaths.

04:40 Thailand has reported 136 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to 1,524.




The Thai government has closed more public facilities and businesses to curb the spread of coronavirus. (Reuters)

01:35 – The Vietnamese Prime Minister has asked authorities of the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to prepare for lockdown.

01:15 – South Korea has reported 78 new cases of COVID-19, taking toll to 9,661.

01:05 – Mexico’s health authorities have confirmed 145 new coronavirus cases. 20 deaths have been reported in the country so far.

00:25 – China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak started, had reported no new cases of coronavirus by end of Sunday. The total number of infections stood at 67,801.

Sunday, March 29 (All times in GMT)

23:05 – Morocco’s Health Ministry has reported 120 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 479.

21:10 – Jordan has recorded two coronavirus deaths, current toll at three.

20:30 – Sudan has confirmed the sixth case of COVID-19 in the country.

20:10 – Tunis has detected 34 new coronavirus cases, increasing the total to 312.

19:35 – Jordan has reported 13 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 259.

18:35 – Egypt has confirmed 33 new COVID-19 cases and four new deaths. Current tolls at 609 infections, 40 deaths and 132 recoveries.

18:30 – Algeria has recorded 57 new coronavirus cases and two deaths, increasing tolls to 511 and 31.

17:30 – The UAE has reported 102 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 570.

15:35 – Libya has confirmed five new cases of coronavirus, bringing total to eight.


Lebanese Christian cleric seen to criticize Hezbollah, allies over crisis

Updated 2 min 3 sec ago

Lebanese Christian cleric seen to criticize Hezbollah, allies over crisis

  • Rai carries weight as the head of the Maronite church, the Christian community from which the president must be drawn in a sectarian system of government
  • Lebanon is suffering a financial meltdown which marks the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric stepped up criticism of the Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies without naming them on Sunday, saying Lebanese rejected being isolated from their allies and driven into decline.
Lebanon is suffering a financial meltdown which marks the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-90 civil war.
For the second sermon in a row, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai stressed the importance of Lebanon’s neutrality, implicit criticism of the heavily armed Hezbollah over its support for Iran in conflicts with Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.
Rai carries weight as the head of the Maronite church, the Christian community from which the president must be drawn in a sectarian system of government.
His last two sermons have been seen to mark a shift to a more openly critical stance against the policies of both Hezbollah and its ally President Michel Aoun.
Both back the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab.
“The intervention was seen as a shift in his politics away from supporting the president and more into criticizing the political position of the country, regionally and internationally,” Mohanad Hage Ali of the Carnegie Middle East Center said.
Rai, in a copy of the sermon sent by email, said Lebanese “rejected any ... parliamentary majority messing with the constitution ... and Lebanon’s model of civilization, and that it isolate it from its brothers and friends ... and that it move it from abundance to want and from prosperity to decline.”
Lebanon’s crisis is rooted in decades of state corruption and bad governance by the sectarian ruling elite.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has called on Lebanon to look east as it seeks help fix the economy, though he said last week this does not mean the country should cut itself from the rest of the world.