Middle East governments tighten coronavirus lockdown as cases continue to surge

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Lebanese soldiers, wearing protective masks and gloves, stand guard at the Beirut international airport on April 5, 2020, ahead of the arrival of nationals living in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. (AFP/File Photo)
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The new curfews in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia apply to all major cities where entry into or exit from those areas is banned, except for vital workers. (SPA)
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Updated 08 April 2020

Middle East governments tighten coronavirus lockdown as cases continue to surge

  • The new curfews in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia apply to all major cities

As the UAE continued the first of a two-week 24-hour lockdown, Saudi Arabia followed suit late Monday, by enforcing a similar measure across the Kingdom in an attempt to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The new curfews in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia apply to all major cities where entry into or exit from those areas is banned, except for vital workers.

The Kuwaiti government also extended its curfew time by two hours, Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh announced. At an online news conference, the minister said the new curfew will be imposed from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting from Monday.

April 7, 2020 Tuesday (GMT time)

20:38 - Square Inc. and Twitter Inc. chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said on Tuesday that he pledged $1 billion of his equity in the payments processor toward efforts aimed at fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
In a series of tweets, Dorsey said the amount, representing about 28% of his wealth, will be donated to a charitable fund, Start Small LLC, which would later focus its attention to girls’ health and education.

19:03 - Egypt reported that 276 new coronavirus cases have recovered.

18:49 - Tunisia recorded 27 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number to 623.

18:11 - The UAE reported 283 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 2,359, with 19 cases recovered in the past 24 hours.

17:35 - France coronavirus deaths now exceed 10,000, according to an official. 

17:24 - Morocco reported 10 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 90 and 64 new infections, bringing the total to 1,184.

17:21 - Kuwait’s finance minister said on Tuesday that Kuwait’s financial position is solid, but it must complete reform in public finance to ensure sustainability of institutions and the welfare of citizens, the finance ministry cited him in a tweet.
Finance Minister Barak Ali Al-Shitan commented on Fitch affirming Kuwait’s rating at AA, saying: “Affirming Kuwait’s sovereign rating reflects the country’s credit strength and the solidity of its financial position, which is fully supported by the size of assets in the Reserve Fund for Future Generations.”

17:12 - Jordan recorded four new coronavirus cases, with 12 cases recovered.

16:47 - Turkey’s confirmed cases of coronavirus increased by 3,892 in the last 24 hours, and 76 people have died, taking the death toll to 725, health minister announced.
Total number of recovered cases stood at 256, and the number of tests carried out over the last 24 hours was 20,023, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in a press conference. 

16:16 - Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 604, a lower daily tally than the 636 seen the day before, while the number of new cases posted the smallest increase since March 13.

16:14 - Qatar recorded two new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total number of deaths so far to six.

16:02 - Algeria reported 30 new coronavirus deaths and 45 new cases.

16:00 - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is breathing without any assistance and continues to be monitored in critical care, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Tuesday. Raab, who is deputising for Johnson, said the British leader had remained stable overnight and was receiving "standard oxygen treatment".

"He has not required any mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support. He remains in good spirits and in keeping with usual clinical practice his progress continues to be monitored in critical care," Raab told a news conference.

"I’m confident that he’ll pull through because if there’s one thing I know about this prime minister, he’s a fighter. He'll be back at the helm leading us through this crisis in short order."

15:35 - Canada's coronavirus cases rose to 17,063 up from 15,822 on April 6; 345 deaths, up from 293, according to public health agency data.

15:25 - The United Kingdom coronavirus death toll rose by 786 to 6,159 people as of 1600 GMT on April 6, the health ministry said.

15:09 - New York reported its deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic, with 731 new deaths in the state to a total of 5,489 fatalities even as Governor Andrew Cuomo said that hospitalizations appeared to be reaching a plateau.
New York state overtook Italy on Tuesday, reporting overall coronavirus cases second in the world only to Spain, according to a Reuters tally.

14:45 - Wearing a face mask and an orange vest while brandishing a thermometer, Palestinian Moayad Samha looks similar to the countless others manning COVID-19 checkpoints across the world.

But Samha does not work for the Palestinian Authority -- he is a lawyer and one of dozens of civilians deployed along rural roads in the occupied West Bank to enforce coronavirus controls. FULL STORY.

14:30 - Billions of people worldwide are staying home to curb the spread of #COVID19, while essential workers are allowed to carry out their tasks. In New Zealand, that list has gained two new additions... FIND OUT MORE.

13:50 - Algerian banks will defer or reschedule loan payments for firms which have been financially affected by the coronavirus crisis, the country’s central bank said on Tuesday.
Banks will continue to finance customers benefiting from loan payment deferrals, while reducing their minimum liquidity requirement to raise funding levels, it said a statement.

13:25 - The EU is to put up 15 billion euros ($16.4 billion) to help poor countries around the world fight the coronavirus epidemic, the bloc's chief announced.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the money would help countries with weak healthcare systems tackle the impact of COVID-19 and also aid with long-term economic recovery.

13:10 - England’s hospital death toll from the coronavirus has risen by 758 to 5,655, the health service said, representing a re-acceleration in the count of fatalities.
29 of the latest victims had no known underlying health condition and the ages of those who died ranged between 23 and 102.

The health service said 29 of the 758 dead had no known underlying health condition and were aged between 23 and 99 years old.

12:45 – The Saudi Health Ministry said coronavirus cases have reached 2,795, with 615 recoveries and 41 deaths. Saudi authorities also said they will still accept nationals for repatriation from abroad, but they must undergo quarantine for 14 days.

12:30 – Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah said the increase in coronavirus cases in the Kingdom would depend on people’s cooperation and adherence to regulations. The minister added that the Kingdom has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic with transparency. He likewise commented that traffic in the roads remain high, which does not fulfill the goal of the lockdown.

Police officers man a checkpoint in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Makkah on April 3, 2020. (AFP)

12:13 – Netherlands confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 777 to 19,580, with 234 deaths.

10:56 – China reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time since it started publishing figures in January, just a day before it plans to lift travel curbs from the contagion’s hotspot of Wuhan. READ THE STORY

10:08 – WHO said it was important not to ease measures to contain spread of coronavirus too early, underscores risk of “fall back.”

10:03 – UK cabinet office minister Michael Gove was self isolating as a family member has been confirmed with coronavirus symptoms.

09:47 – Iran recorded 133 new coronavirus deaths, with the total toll now at 3,872, a health official said.

09:42 – Spain confirmed 743 new coronavirus deaths, bringing the total to 13,798.

Careworkers from the Juan Calzada nursing home stand behind a banner reading ‘We are staying at home with our other family’ in Guernica, Spain on April 2, 2020.  (Reuters)

09:39 – Malaysian health authorities on Tuesday reported 170 new coronavirus cases, raising the cumulative tally to 3,963 cases as Southeast Asia's third-largest economy grapples with the highest infection rate in the region.

09:35 – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency to fight new coronavirus infections in major population centers and unveiled a stimulus package he described as among the world’s biggest to soften the economic blow. READ THE STORY

08:59 – The Philippines’ health ministry reported 14 new coronavirus deaths and 104 additional infections. Airlines in the Philippines also announced an extension of domestic and foreign flight cancellations to end-April following a longer quarantine period on the country’s main island. Philippine Airlines and budget carriers Cebu Pacific and the local unit of Malaysia’s AirAsia Group said they aim to resume regular operations next month. The country’s airline industry last week sought government aid, saying the coronavirus outbreak threatens the survival of companies.

07:14 – Tunisia reported 22 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 596.

07:04 – Saudi Arabia recorded 147 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 2,752.

06:48 – India, the world’s main supplier of generic drugs, said it will allow limited exports of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine that US President Donald Trump has touted as a potential weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. READ THE STORY

06:05 – Dubai’s Department of Economic Development extended the closure of commercial activities until April 18 to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In line with the preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 Dubai Economy extends the circular on the closure of commercial activities until the end of the National Disinfection Programme on the 18th of April 2020. The exempted sectors will operate as usual.


05:57 – Oman confirmed 40 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 371.

05:52 – Kuwait reported two new coronavirus recoveries, bringing total to 105.

05:23 – Indonesia has raised $4.3 billion, including the longest-dated US dollar bond ever issued by an Asian nation, to help the government fund its battle against coronavirus. READ MORE

05:18Thailand reported 38 new coronavirus infections and the death of a 54-year-old man on Tuesday, a spokesman for a government agency said.

05:00 – Israel announced its coronavirus death toll has reached 58, with a total of 8,904 people infected. 

04:39 – Singapore’s usually bustling business district was almost deserted Tuesday as most workplaces in the city-state closed to stem the spread of the coronavirus after a surge in cases.

Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

Updated 28 May 2020

Yemen government to begin first evacuation flights for stranded citizens 

  • Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights
  • After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups

Yemen’s internationally recognized government will begin the first evacuation flights for citizens who have been stranded abroad since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency SABA reported. 
The first evacuation flight will be sent to Jordan on Thursday, a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed with Yemen’s Supreme National Emergency Committee for COVID-19 heard. 
This came after the committee approved the protocol for evacuating citizens stranded abroad, which includes procedures and timetables for scheduling the return of citizens to Yemen, and organizing specific health and precautionary controls and procedures, the news agency said. 
The authorities are tasked with the rapid implementation of precautionary measures in preparation for the returning citizens. 

RELATED: Yemenis stranded in India call to be repatriated as fear of coronavirus infection rises
Yemenia flights will be sent to Egypt, Jordan and India in the first stage of the evacuation flights. Yemeni nationals will be tested prior to travel and will receive a health certificate from an accredited medical center.
After returning to Yemen, citizens will be sent to health centers for check-ups, treatment and to keep track of their data. Returning nationals will also be required to self-quarantine at home.  
Stranded nationals will be informed of flight times immediately after the necessary permits with the countries in which they are in are completed, the committee said. 
The Minister of Public Health and head of the committee, Dr Nasser Baoum, and Deputy Prime Minister Salem Al-Khanbashi presented a report on the development of the situation in Aden. The report discussed the establishment of a medical unit for the treatment and reception of cases of coronavirus infection. 
The committee also reviewed the report submitted by the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Hussein Mansour, on those stranded in Saudi Arabia and discussed measures for their return. Mansour said discussions were in place with Saudi official to schedule their return.
In Yemen, scores of COVID-19 cases have been recorded across the country, but the UN warns that the virus is spreading largely undetected. Hundreds of people in the interim capital Aden have died in the past week with symptoms of what appears to be the coronavirus, local health officials said.
The officials fear the situation is only going to get worse as Yemen has little capacity to treat those suspected of having the virus.