Syria: President Assad suffers brief drop in blood pressure

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attends an interview with Russian television channel NTV, in Damascus, Syria in this handout released on June 24, 2018. SANA/Handout via Reuters
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Updated 12 August 2020

Syria: President Assad suffers brief drop in blood pressure

  • Bashar Assad interrupted a speech he was giving to parliament after he suffered a brief drop in blood pressure
  • Assad is not known to have any specific health condition

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad interrupted a speech he was giving to parliament after he suffered a brief drop in blood pressure, the Syrian presidency said Wednesday.
The office said the speech was halted for “several minutes” because of a “mild” case of low blood pressure he suffered, after which he continued the speech as normal.
The presidency's Facebook page posted that the speech would be aired later Wednesday. It did not provide further details. Assad, 54, is not known to have any specific health condition.
Assad gave the speech Wednesday on the occasion of the first parliament session after elections were held last month. The vote was the third to take place in Syria since Syria's conflict began in 2011.
The elections also coincided with Syria’s worst economic crisis and a currency crash, which has dragged more of the country’s population into poverty.


Israeli cabinet tightens coronavirus lockdown as infections climb

Updated 6 min 40 sec ago

Israeli cabinet tightens coronavirus lockdown as infections climb

  • Since the outbreak began, 1,316 people have died in Israel and some 200,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported
  • The current second wave of infections followed an easing in May of a lockdown imposed in March

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel's coronavirus lockdown after he voiced alarm that a surge in infections was pushing the nation to "the edge of the abyss".
Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on Sept. 18. But over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 among a population of 9 million, severely straining the resources of some hospitals.
"We reached a decision to pull the handbrake," Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch said on Israel Radio about the cabinet decision, without giving precise details of the restrictions.
Israel Radio and several Israeli news sites said the revised edicts, due to take effect on Friday pending parliamentary ratification, will allow fewer businesses to operate, and only in "essential" sectors such as finance, energy, health, technology, agriculture and food sales and production.
The current 1,000-metre (0.6-mile)- limit on travel from home, except for activities such as grocery and medicine shopping and commuting to work, will now also apply to attendance at street protests, the news reports said.
The revised edict was likely to put a damper on demonstrations outside Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence, where protesters, many of them from outside the city, have been calling for his resignation over alleged corruption.
He has denied charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a trial that resumes in January, and rejected allegations from protest activists that a tougher lockdown was essentially aimed at quashing the demonstrations against him.
"In the past two days, we heard from the experts that if we don't take immediate and difficult steps, we will reach the edge of the abyss," Netanyahu said in public remarks to the cabinet, which met for about eight hours.
Schools will remain closed, but the cabinet decided against shuttering synagogues on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, next week, media reported. The number of worshippers, however, will be limited.
Infection rates in close-quarter ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods and towns in Israel have been high, but religious parties in the coalition government had opposed shuttering synagogues.
Since the outbreak began, 1,316 people have died in Israel and some 200,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported.
The current second wave of infections followed an easing in May of a lockdown imposed in March.