Coronavirus cases, deaths rise across the Middle East

Baghdad remains under strict government curfew to contain the novel coronavirus, but small groups of volunteers are making food packages for needy families. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 April 2020

Coronavirus cases, deaths rise across the Middle East

  • Public bus services in Dubai will be free of charge for people permitted to leave their homes during the extended sterilization period

DUBAI: The Middle East has encountered more coronavirus cases and fatalities, with Iran recording its biggest jump in deaths.

Countries are implementing tighter rules on international and domestic travel to strengthen efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sunday, April 5 (All times in GMT)

21:20 - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital for precautionary tests for COVID-19.  

18:13 - France reported 357 new coronavirus hospital deaths, bringing the toll to 8,078, and the number of confirmed cases in hospitals rose to 70,478 from 68,605 on Saturday.

17:34 - The UAE recorded 294 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases so far to 1,798, with 19 cases cured.

17:21 - Turkey’s death toll from the new coronavirus rose by 73 to total 574, and new confirmed cases rose by 3,135 to bring the country’s total to 27,069, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
He added that 20,065 tests for the COVID-19 disease had been performed in Turkey in the last 24 hours.

17:16 - Morocco recorded 107 new coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.

16:53 - Kuwait recorded 77 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 556.

16:20 - Algeria recorded 22 coronavirus deaths in one day, bringing the toll to 152, and 69 new infections, bringing the total to 1,320 cases.

16:14 - Italy recorded its lowest daily death toll from the novel coronavirus in over two weeks and saw the number of critical care patients decline for the second day.
The 525 official COVID-19 fatalities reported by the civil protection service were the lowest since 427 registered on March 19.

16:01 - Former Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril died of coronavirus in Cairo.

15:40 - Iraq recorded 81 new coronavirus cases and five new deaths, bringing the total number of cases so far to 961.

15:19 - The number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada has jumped by just over 20% to 258 in a day, official data posted by the public health agency showed on Sunday.
By 11:05 eastern time (1505 GMT), the total number of those diagnosed with the coronavirus had risen by almost 12% to 14,426. The respective figures on Saturday were 214 deaths and 12,924 positive diagnoses.

15:16 - New York state reported 594 deaths from the coronavirus and 8,327 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, increasing the numbers to 4,159 dead and 122,000 cases since the outbreak began, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

15:16 - Europe needs debt mutualization and a common Marshall plan to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Sunday.

14:59 - Mahmud Jibril, the former head of the rebel government that overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, died of the coronavirus.
Jibril, 68, died in Cairo where he had been hospitalized for two weeks, said Khaled Al-Mrimi, secretary of the Alliance of National Forces party founded by Jibril in 2012.

14:41 - Nearly 20 million jobs at risk in Africa due to coronavirus pandemic and the African government could lose 20% to 30% of fiscal revenue, according to an African Union study.

14:34 - Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry says it has launched an electronic service to receive requests for the return of citizens from abroad and set travel times.

The ministry said registration of requests to return citizens from abroad begins on Sunday and will continue for 5 days, adding that all returning citizens will be subjected to isolation for 14 days.

"We developed an integrated plan for the return of citizens, guaranteeing their safety," it said in a statement on Twitter.

14:32 - Saudi Arabia's King Salman directs the foreign ministry to work on the procedures of citizens wishing to return from abroad amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

14:18 - Egypt expects economic growth to slow to 4.5% in the third quarter and to 1% in the last three months of the 2019/2020 fiscal year to June due to the effects of the coronavirus, Planning Minister Hala Al-Saeed said on Sunday.
The government had been targeting annual growth of 5.6%, but was now looking at 4.2%, she said.

13:33 - The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 621 to 4,934 at 1600 GMT on April 4, the health ministry said on Sunday.
As of 0800 GMT, a total of 195,524 people had been tested of which 47,806 tested positive, the health ministry said.

12:41 - Saudi Arabia has confirmed 206 new coronavirus cases and five deaths, bringing totals to 2,385 infections, 34 deaths and 488 recoveries.

12:40 - Ethiopia’s health minister has reported the first death of a COVID-19 patient. The total number of cases in the country is 43 with four recoveries.

12:27 - Albania has recorded 28 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 361.

12:25 - Libya said total number of COVID-19 cases reached 9.

12:15 - The number of deaths caused by the new coronavirus in the Netherlands has increased by 115 to 1,766, health authorities said on Sunday.
Confirmed infections increased by 1,224 to 17,851, the Dutch Institute for Public Health said.

11:35 - Singapore’s health ministry on Sunday confirmed 120 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 1,309 infections and six deaths.

11:31 – The UAE cabinet held its second virtual meeting to discuss government efforts amid the coronavirus outbreak. It has ordered factories to mee the needs of the country’s health sector and issued other directives to support the community.



10:52 - South Sudan has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, its vice president said on Sunday.

10:45 - Lebanon started repatriating nationals stranded abroad in its first flight in weeks since it closed its international airport to stem the novel coronavirus.

09:54 - Iran’s total coronavirus death toll has reached 3,603, with cases raised to 58,226.

09:34 - Spain reported 6032 new coronavirus cases and 674 deaths, bringing totals to 130,759 infections and 12,418.

09:19 - Kuwait has announced 77 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 556.

09:04 - Malaysia has reported 179 new coronavirus cases and four deaths, bringing total to 3,662.

08:47 - Lebanon has confirmed seven new coronavirus cases, increasing total to 527.

08:25 - Philippine Health Ministry has reported eight new coronavirus deaths and 152 new cases.

08:22 - Palestine has recorded nine new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 226.

08:21 - Morocco has announced 41 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 960.

08:13 - Jordan said it is to use drones and surveillance cameras to monitor compliance with a nationwide curfew imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

07:19 - More than 130 people were newly infected with the novel coronavirus in Tokyo, Japan’s NHK public broadcaster reported on Sunday, citing officials from the metropolitan government.

06:31 - Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has pardoned 5,654 prisoners and ordered measures to protect inmates from the coronavirus outbreak, the justice ministry said on Sunday.

06:22 - Oman has recorded 21 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 298.

06:04 - Greece has quarantined a second migrant facility this week after a 53-year-old man tested positive for coronavirus, the migration ministry said on Sunday. 

03:38 - Baghdad remains under strict government curfew to contain the novel coronavirus, but small groups of volunteers are making food packages for needy families.

“What we’re doing is a humanitarian duty toward society, and anyone who can afford it should do the same,” said businessman, Abu Hashim.

03:35 - Australian health officials said on Sunday they were cautiously optimistic about the slowing spread of coronavirus in the country but warned social distancing restrictions are to stay in place for months.

Confirmed cases rose by 181 during the 24-hour period to early Sunday, bringing the national total to 5,635, health ministry data showed. The death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose to 34.

Saturday, April 4 (All times in GMT)

19:58 - Abu Dhabi will extend the closure of entertainment destinations including commercial centers, shopping malls and cinemas until further notice, state news agency WAM reported citing the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

19:42 - Public bus services in Dubai will be free of charge for people permitted to leave their homes during the extended sterilization period, state news agency reported citing the Roads and Transport Authority.

Taxis in the emirate will also provide a 50 percent discount on fares. 

17:46 - Egypt’s Minister of Health Dr. Hala Zayed arrived in Italy on Saturday with a military delegation to deliver medical aid equipment, protective suits, detergents and sanitizers transported by two jets, local daily newspaper Egypt Today reported.

Accusations of serial assault spark new #MeToo wave in Egypt

Updated 13 July 2020

Accusations of serial assault spark new #MeToo wave in Egypt

  • Activists say the case shows that misogyny cuts across the country’s stark class lines
  • In Egypt, sexual assault complaints have typically involved street harassment

CAIRO: Their accounts are similar. The girls and women describe meeting the young man — a former student at Egypt’s most elite university — in person and online, followed by deceit, then escalating sexual harassment, assault, blackmail or rape.
Some were minors when the alleged crimes took place. In all, more than 100 accusers have emerged online in the past two weeks.
It’s resulted in a new #MeToo firestorm on social media, and the arrest of the suspect last week from his home in a gated community outside Cairo.
Activists say the case shows that misogyny cuts across the country’s stark class lines; many in Egypt have previously portrayed harassment as a problem of poor urban youth.
Women’s rights champions hope the authorities’ swift response signals change in how Egyptian society handles accusations of sexual assault.
“What’s before this case is totally different from what’s after,” said Nihad Abuel-Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and a lawyer representing some of the alleged victims.
Sexual assault and harassment are deep-seated problems in Egypt, where victims must also fight the undercurrent of a conservative culture that typically ties female chastity to a family’s reputation. In courts, the burden of proof lies heavily on the victim of such crimes.
In a statement, the public prosecutor’s officer said the accused man acknowledged he blackmailed at least six girls, saying he would send sensitive photos of them to their families if they cut ties. Several attempts by The Associated Press to contact him or his lawyer were unsuccessful.
Amr Adib, Egypt’s most prominent TV host, said in a recent episode that he’d spoken with the young man’s father, who occupies a high-ranking position at a telecommunication company. He said his son dismissed the allegations.
At least 10 women have officially reported their claims, according to Abuel-Komsan, of the women’s rights center. Activists also set up the Instagram account @assaultpolice to collect allegations, said Sabah Khodir, a US-based writer who helps run the account. She said there are more than 100 accounts.
“We are demanding to be listened to … We are just using what we have, lending our voices to hopefully create some kind of change,” she said.
A court has ordered the accused to remain in custody pending an investigation into an array of accusations that include attempted rape, blackmail and indecent assault, according to a five-page statement by the public prosecutor. In the same statement, the prosecutor urged more alleged victims to come forward.
Last week, the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi moved to amend the country’s criminal law to increase protections for the identities of sexual assault victims, which activists have welcomed. The amendment still needs parliamentary approval and El-Sisi’s signature to be made law.
The allegations against the student cover a period of at least three years.
Many of the anonymous accounts appear to be from fellow students at the American International School, one of the country’s most expensive private high schools, and the American University in Cairo, which school officials said the accused left in 2018. It would appear that he then enrolled at the European Union Business School in Spain, in an online program last year.
In February, he spent three weeks at its Barcelona campus, but the school expelled him after an accusation of online harassment that was subsequently proved false, said Claire Basterfield, a spokesperson for the EUBS. The school has filed a 54-page criminal complaint with the Spanish police, seeking further investigation into his actions.
The head of the American University in Cairo, Francis Ricciardone, said the university has a zero-tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment, but that he would not comment on an ongoing case.
According to accusations posted on social media in the past two weeks, the former student would mine the pool of mutual friends on Facebook, online groups or school clubs. He would start with flattery, then pressure the women and girls to share intimate photos that he later used to blackmail them to have sex with him. If they did not, he would threaten to send the pictures to their family.
In some cases, he “attracted their sympathy by claiming he was going through a crisis,” then lured them to his home in an upscale compound where he sexually assaulted them, the prosecutor’s statement alleged.
In Egypt, sexual assault complaints have typically involved street harassment. During and after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, women were frequently harassed, groped — and in some cases, beaten and sexually assaulted — during mass protests.
This time, there are signs of wider ripples throughout the society. The current series of complaints has prompted Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, to speak out on sexual harassment and assault, even challenging the widely held belief that a woman is at fault if her clothing is less than modest. It’s a departure from the norm for the conservative Muslim majority country where most women wear headscarves.
There are also other corners where accusations of sexual harassment are emerging, such as in civil society groups and businesses.
Two rights groups said they fired one employee and suspended another, and opened investigations after allegations of sexual misconduct against them were made public. Authorities also detained a prominent publisher over the weekend after a poet filed a complaint with the Cairo police, accusing him of sexually harassing her, the state-run Al-Ahram reported. The publisher denied the allegations in a Facebook posting. He was released late Sunday on 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($313) in bail, pending an investigation.
The recent cases — reaching into the Egyptian elite — have “refuted all previous arguments and justifications for harassment, from poverty to illiteracy and things like that,” Abuel-Komsan said.