Middle East looking to revive economy despite rising coronavirus infections

A man sells ballons at Beirut seaside corniche on May, 13, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Middle East looking to revive economy despite rising coronavirus infections

Countries across the Middle East are looking for ways to revive their economies, despite rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

Meanwhile shortly after Saudi Arabia suspended the cost of living allowance and increased the value-added tax (VAT), it urged other producers to join them in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on energy demand. The country – which depends on the stability of oil production - confirmed a total of 44,830 cases of virus infections.

Lebanon, meanwhile, called on the public to stay home, starting Wednesday evening until dawn on Monday, reversing measures earlier this month that phased out restrictions imposed since mid-March.

May 14, 2020 Thursday (GMT times)

13:20 - The COVID-19 death toll in the United Kingdom rose by 428 to 33,614, health officials said on Thursday.
An update from the officials also showed that more than 126,000 tests were carried out on May 13.

10:49 - Qatar confirms 1,733 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 28,272

10:04 - The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention confirmed 698 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total to 21,084 infected people.

The ministry also said there had been 407 recoveries, placing the number of recovered patients in the country at 6,930. There were two fatalities, increasing the death toll to 208.

09:51 - Kuwait confirms 188 new coronavirus recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 3,451

09:31 - China rejected US ‘smearing’ of attempted coronavirus vaccine theft claim

09:05 - The number of coronavirus cases in Spain increase to 229,540 and deaths reach 27,321

08:43 - European Medicines Agency says the coronavirus vaccine could be ready for approval in a year’s time

08:21 - China's National Health Commission will step up COVID-19 testing and screening, to prevent rebound of pandemic.

07:37 - Armenia extends state of emergency until June 13 to curb the spread of coronavirus.

07:20 – The deadly coronavirus pandemic will cost the global insurance industry about $203 billion, the Lloyd’s of London market forecast on Thursday.

06:41 – France's nationwide lockdown reduced the number of those normally classified as unemployed by making it impossible for them to look for work, dropping unemployment figures in the first quarter to an 11-year low, authorities said on Thursday.

06:40 – A powerful typhoon hit the central Philippines Thursday, forcing a complicated and risky evacuation for tens of thousands already hunkered down at home during the coronavirus pandemic. At least 200,000 people live in coastal areas or flimsy homes in the province near where the storm, called Typhoon Vongfong, made landfall with fierce winds and heavy rain.

06:30 – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged governments, civil society and health authorities on Wednesday to urgently address mental health needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic, warning that psychological suffering is increasing.

06:28 – The head of Dubai airport said temperature screening and face masks will become common sights at airports to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus but physical distancing could make flying more expensive.

06:20 – The next pandemic could be in the Amazon rainforest, warns Brazilian ecologist David Lapola, who says human encroachment on animals' habitats - a likely culprit in the coronavirus outbreak - is soaring there because of rampant deforestation.

06:07 – Oil prices edged higher Thursday on signs that production cuts are easing a virus-triggered glut, but gains were capped after the head of the Federal Reserve warned about the pandemic's economic impact.

05:05 – The coronavirus may never go away and populations will have to learn to live with it just as they have HIV, the World Health Organization has warned.


Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

In this file photo taken on December 04, 2018, Marc and Debra Tice, the parents of US journalist Austin Tice (portrait L), who was abducted in Syria more than six years ago, speak at a press conference in Beirut. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2020

Trump wrote to Assad about journalist missing in Syria, says Pompeo

  • In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump personally wrote to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad about the case of journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since 2012, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.
“The US government has repeatedly attempted to engage Syrian officials to seek Austin’s release,” Pompeo said in a statement on the eighth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“President Trump wrote to Bashar Assad in March to propose direct dialogue.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he was captured, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later.
Since then, there has been no official information on whether he is alive or dead.
In March, Trump said the United States had written a letter to authorities in Damascus, without specifying that he himself had written personally to Assad, who Washington wants out of power. At that time, Trump said he did not know if Tice was still alive.

HIGHLIGHT

Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012.

“No one should doubt the president’s commitment to bringing home all US citizens held hostage or wrongfully detained overseas,” Pompeo said Friday.
“Nowhere is that determination stronger than in Austin Tice’s case.”
Pompeo said he and Trump hoped there would be “no need for another statement like this a year from now.”
“Austin Tice’s release and return home are long, long overdue. We will do our utmost to achieve that goal,” he added.
A year ago, the US government said it believed Tice was still alive.
His mother Debra Tice said in January that she had “credible information” to that effect, without elaborating.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to his recovery.