Parts of Middle East prepares for Eid lockdown as coronavirus toll continues to rise 

Parts of Middle East prepares for Eid lockdown as coronavirus toll continues to rise 
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Updated 19 May 2020

Parts of Middle East prepares for Eid lockdown as coronavirus toll continues to rise 

Parts of Middle East prepares for Eid lockdown as coronavirus toll continues to rise 

DUBAI: Egypt announced a curfew starting from 5 p.m. and a halt to public transport from May 24 for six days during the Eid holiday, as it seeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Egypt’s announcement follow’s Saudi Arabia’s decision to introduce a curfew across the country to contain the coronavirus during the Eid holidays, from May 23 until May 27.

The decision comes after a sharp rise in infections.

Jordan will also restrict movement of vehicles on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr.

Meanwhile, Iran faces a potentially lethal “second wave” of coronavirus infections as the official death toll surged toward 7,000.

Monday (GMT time)

20:27 - US President Donald Trump said he has taken unproven malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to prevent symptoms should he get coronavirus.

18:04 - Canada's total confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 77,306 from 76,204 on May 17; with 5,805 deaths, up from 5,702, according to Public Health Agency data.

17:40 - The UAE is expanding nightly curfew by two hours starting Wednesday until further notice - official.

17:33 - Syria’s health minister told the World Health Organization on Monday that “coercive and unfair” Western sanctions were hitting medical services trying to cope with coronavirus in his war-torn country and called for their removal.

17:30 - The United Arab Emirates will extend a nightly curfew by two hours starting this week after reporting an increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases, an official said.
The curfew, which currently runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., would start at 8 p.m. as of Wednesday until further notice, Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, told a news conference.

17:09 - Egypt recorded 535 new coronavirus infections and 15 deaths.

17:06 - The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States exceeded 1.5 million, as total deaths caused by the new coronavirus approached 90,000, according to a Reuters tally of state and county figures.

16:30 - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that a four-day lockdown starting on May 23 would be imposed nationwide as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus during the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday.

16:06 - Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 99, against 145 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, registering the first tally of below 100 since March 9.
New cases increased by just 451 against 675 on Sunday, the lowest daily figure since March 2.

16:02 - Uber announced it is cutting a quarter of its global workforce and trimming investment to survive the financial hit to its business from the coronavirus pandemic.
The San Francisco-based company is laying off about 3,000 people and stopping some investments unrelated to its core ride-share and delivery businesses, according to chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

15:52 - The number of people who have died in the United Kingdom after testing positive for COVID-19 rose by 160 to 34,796, the health department said on Twitter.
A total of 246,406 people have tested positive for the virus, up 2,684. 

15:40 - New York's statewide coronavirus deaths increased by 106 vs. 139 deaths a day earlier, and the total coronavirus hospitalizations down slightly on May 17 from 5,897 a day earlier, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

15:09 - Spain’s overnight death toll from the coronavirus was 59, the lowest figure in two months, the government said.
The cumulative death toll rose to 27,709, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 231,606 on Monday from 231,350 the previous day, according to health ministry figures.
Figures include data for more than 24 hours as the ministry changed its methods on Monday. It was the second day in a row that deaths were under 100.

15:00 -  US Health Secretary Alex Azar tells World Health Organization (WHO) assembly that there was an "apparent attempt" by at least one member state of concealing the outbreak - he does not name China. Also says WHO did not obtain the correct information the world so desperately needed in its bid to fight the coronavirus.

He adds that WHO's failings "cost many lives" and can never happen again, and that the world needs a more effective WHO at the moment.

14:30 - The global economy will take much longer to recover fully from the shock caused by the new coronavirus than initially expected, the head of the International Monetary Fund said, and she stressed the danger of protectionism.
Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the Fund was likely to revise downward its forecast for a 3% contraction in GDP in 2020, with only a partial recovery expected next year instead of the 5.8% rebound initially expected.

14:40 - Morocco is to extend its national lockdown to contain the spread of the new coronavirus until June 10, Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani said.
Morocco had confirmed 6,930 coronavirus cases, including 192 deaths, by Monday morning, as the rise of hotspots within families and factories complicates efforts to curb infections.

13:45 - An oversight body backs a review of World Health Organization's performance and nations' actions during the coronavirus pandemic, but warns that conducting it during the heat of the response could disrupt its ability to respond effectively.

It said the "rising politicization of the pandemic response" was impeding the defeat of the virus" adding that "WHO cannot succeed without unified global political support."

11:55 - Qatar confirmed 1,365 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 33,969.

11:48 - Morocco confirmed 60 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 6,930

11:45 - Kuwait confirmed 841 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 15,691.

11:41 - The World Health Organisation’s DrTedros said countries that moved too fast easing COVID-19 preventative measures without putting in place public health architecture run a real risk of handicapping their own recovery.

11:17 - China’s President Xi Jinping said the country was transparent about the coronavirus since its discovery, and added that China would make a coronavirus vaccine a ‘global public good.’

10:29 - Iraq’s PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced the start of a lockdown in five cities across Baghdad’s province as of Wednesday for two weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus.

09:52 - Egyptair says a government loan will allow the company to pay employee's salaries

08:41 - Kuwait confirmed 246 new coronavirus recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 4,339.

08:00 - Greece reopened the Acropolis in Athens and all open-air archaeological sites in the country to the public on Monday after a two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.


07:59 - Australia’s foreign minister on Monday welcomed international support for an independent investigation of the coronavirus pandemic, a proposed inquiry that has been condemned by China and blamed for a bilateral trade rift.

07:48 - Oman confirmed 193 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 5,379

07:41 - Russia confirmed 8,926 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 290,678
07:35 - Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said the British government had mismanaged its response to the COVID-19 outbreak for many weeks and its policy of a 14-day quarantine for international travelers was idiotic. 
“It is idiotic and it is unimplementable,” O’Leary told BBC radio. “This is the same government that has... mismanaged the crisis for many weeks.”
07:33 – Hungary’s government will submit a proposal to parliament on May 26 to end its special coronavirus emergency powers, hirtv.hu quoted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff as saying late on Sunday.
07:30 - Restaurants and churches will reopen in Italy on Monday as part of a fresh wave of lockdown easing in Europe, but rising coronavirus death tolls in Brazil, South Africa and other parts of the world showed the worst is still to come in many countries.


Israel sends Palestinians over $1 bn in withheld funds: minister

Updated 2 min 6 sec ago

Israel sends Palestinians over $1 bn in withheld funds: minister

  • The Palestinians stopped coordination with Israel in May in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank
  • Israel later put its annexation plans on hold

RAMALLAH: Israel has released more than $1 billion in funds withheld from the Palestinian Authority, a Palestinian minister said Wednesday, weeks after coordination was renewed between the two sides.
“The Israeli government transfers all financial dues of the clearance to the account of the Palestinian Authority, amounting to three billion and 768 million shekels,” civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter, referring to taxes, including customs taxes, that the Jewish state collects on behalf of the PA.

In May, the Palestinians stopped coordination with Israel, with PA leader Mahmud Abbas saying it was in response to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Israel later put its annexation plans on hold, in return for an agreement to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, announced in August.
In halting the cooperation with Israel, the PA also stopped accepting transfer of taxes — particularly customs duties — collected by Israel on its behalf.
Earlier in the week, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the “security cabinet approved transferring the money to the PA,” without specifying the amount.
Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Monday the Palestinians were “entitled” to the funds, expected to relieve pressure on a Palestinian economy in the grips of a severe budgetary crisis.
Officials “will take everything they are owed. They have been patient for months and it’s only a matter of a little more time to make everything clear,” Shtayyeh said.
Deprived of this income, the PA had to cut the salaries of its civil servants, at a time when the Palestinian economy had begun grappling with the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.