Middle East countries impose strict measures during Eid to prevent coronavirus spread

An aerial view shows deserted streets in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on April 21, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic crisis. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Middle East countries impose strict measures during Eid to prevent coronavirus spread

DUBAI: Countries in the Middle East have issued strict rules during the Eid Al-Fitr holiday with an aim to prevent further spread of coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia celebrated the first day of Eid al-Fitr in a state of 24-hour lockdown, imposed last week to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier King Salman thanked people in Saudi Arabia for abiding by the curfew.

In Egypt, a video of a man wearing Al-Azhar University’s uniform being chased by police was posted by social media users on Sunday. The incident happened after the country cancelled Eid prayers in mosque grounds.

May 25, 2020, Monday (All times in GMT)

19:30 - Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centers next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, setting out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown. READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

18:28 - Kuwait will not extend its 24-hour curfew beyond May 30, the interior minister said, adding that the cabinet will announce on Thursday the details of a partial curfew and a plan for public life to return to normal gradually.
Kuwait had imposed a full-time curfew from May 10 to May 30 to help to curb the spread of coronavirus.

18:11 - Saudi Arabia's health minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said "the early measures taken by the Kingdom helped us take control of the pandemic," adding that the lockdown will ease in phases starting from Thursday, and will be extended depending on reported cases.

17:06 - Dubai will allow free movement and business activity to restart during the day from Wednesday, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said.
Restrictions will remain in place however from between 11.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m., the Dubai Media Office said in a press release.

18:14 - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain could reopen all non-essential retail stores on June 15 if the coronavirus remains contained.
“On June 15, we intend to allow all non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small independent shops, to reopen,” Johnson told reporters, stressing that this “will be contingent upon progress against” the disease.

16:02 - Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy climbed by 92, against 50 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new cases dropped to just 300 from 531 on Sunday.
The number of confirmed cases amounts to 230,158, the sixth highest global tally behind those of the US, Russia, Spain, Britain and Brazil.

15:48 UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's special adviser Dominic Cummings said he feels that the rules allowed him to exercise his judgment.

12:50 - Saudi Arabia reported nine new deaths from coronavirus, bringing the total to 399, the health ministry said.

It also reported 2,235 new cases and 2,148 cases have recovered, bringing the total to 45,668.

12:15 - War-torn Syria has reported 20 new cases of coronavirus, the largest single-day increase to date in the country, the health ministry said.

12:01 - Lebanon has reported five new coronavirus cases, raising total to 1,119.

11:59 - German government said it aims to extend social distancing rules to July 5 according to a policy draft

11:32 - Qatar has recorded 1,751 new coronavirus infected cases.

11:30 - Ethiopia has registered 73 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 601.

10:22 - Morocco has reported 62 new coronavirus cases, raising total to 7,495.

10:06 - Iran has confirmed 34 new coronavirus deaths, raising total number of fatalities to 7,451. It also registered 2023 new cases, bringing the total to 137,724.

10:05 - Kuwait has recorded 665 new coronavirus cases.

09:46 - A total of 172 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Malaysia, raising the total number of infected patients to 7,417.

09:15 - Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has lifted coronavirus state of emergency.

09:05 - Scientists in Thailand have joined the race to find a vaccine for coronavirus, after a successful first phase they are now testing their hoped cure on monkeys.

08:15 - A cafe in South Korea has taken social distancing to a whole new level witn the introduction of a robot barista.

05:38 - Legendary Egyptian actress Ragaa El-Gedawy has tested positive for coronavirus, ET Bilarabi reported.

04:48 - Thailand has recorded two new coronavirus cases and one death.

04:47 - Germany has reported 178,570 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,257 deaths according to Robert Koch Institute.

May 24, 2020, Sunday

23:00 - Yemen’s Marib has imposed an 11-hour coronavirus curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Sunday until further notice.

18:07 - Jordan launched a website to help in the implementation of the country’s third phase of repatriation for citizens wanting to return to the Kingdom, state news agency Petra reported citing the Director of the Coronavirus Crisis Cell Brig. Gen. Mazen Al-Faraya.

13:16 - The UAE recorded 781 new coronavirus cases overnight after conducting an additional 35,000 tests, bringing the country’s total number of known infections to 29,485, the health ministry said. 


Tensions continue to rise between US and Hezbollah

Updated 10 July 2020

Tensions continue to rise between US and Hezbollah

  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party was in talks with Iran about buying oil with Lebanese pounds
  • Pompeo said on Wednesday: “Washington will not allow this. This will not be acceptable”

BEIRUT: The fallout from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s warning that Washington will do all it can to prevent Iran selling oil to Hezbollah in Lebanon continued on Thursday.
After Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party was in talks with Iran about buying oil with Lebanese pounds, to ease pressure on the plummeting currency, Pompeo said on Wednesday: “Washington will not allow this. This will not be acceptable. This is a product subject to sanctions. We will do everything in our power to ensure that Iran cannot continue to sell crude oil anywhere, including to Hezbollah.”
A Hezbollah source described the comments as “blatant, rude and unacceptable interference in Lebanese economic options.”
Another Hezbollah source said on Thursday: “Lebanon will not remain a hostage to American practices. It has to make up its mind about the choices that provide for the needs of its people.”
However, Minister of Energy Raymond GHajjar said ahead of a cabinet session on Thursday that the Lebanese government “is not considering importing oil from Iran, is not negotiating with it on this issue, and negotiations are still ongoing with Iraq.”
Lebanon is facing an unprecedented financial crisis that has caused its currency to lose 80 percent of its value, resulting in soaring inflation and plunging many people into poverty.
Nasrallah on Thursday renewed his call for the Lebanese government to purchase oil from Iran, adding that Tehran “is ready to accept payment in Lebanese pounds instead of the dollar.” He also accused the US of “imposing an economic, financial and monetary blockade on Lebanon and its people.”
Pompeo said that “the US will continue to treat Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” while pledging his country’s support for Lebanon and its assistance to help the Lebanese people get through the crisis. He added that Washington will not accept Lebanon becoming a state affiliated with Iran, and will continue to put pressure on Hezbollah and support the efforts of the Lebanese people to ensure they are represented by an honest government.
Meanwhile Sheikh Nazir Jishi, a cleric who leads a group called Righteous People, has filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office accusing US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea based on evidence allegedly “related to establishing espionage networks that work for the benefit of the Israeli enemy on Lebanese lands, incitement, inciting sectarian strife, threatening civil peace and insulting the Lebanese people.”
Mohanad Hage Ali, a fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, said that the events of recent days show that Washington is continuing to put pressure on Hezbollah, without allowing relations to completely break down.
He highlighted a number of recent developments, including: Nasrallah’s comments that his party wants Lebanon to have good relations with all countries, including the US; the legal action taken against Ambassador Shea; the early release of Lebanese businessman Kassim Tajideen from an American prison where he was serving a five-year sentence for providing millions of dollars in funding for Hezbollah; and an official visit to Lebanon by Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, during which he met President Michel Aoun and the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces.
“All of these situations indicate that some kind of an agreement is being woven between the two sides, beneath all the confrontations,” said Hage Ali.
“The Americans care about supporting Lebanese institutions, especially the army. There is talk of limited Arab aid to Lebanon with American approval but what does this mean? Is it like life support so that the country continues to survive within minimum limits until the next US presidential election, pending a new approach to the Iranian threat … if the Democrats win?”