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Morocco reports first coronavirus case as outbreak spreads across Middle East

Morocco recoded one case who had travelled from Italy [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 March, 2020

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Morocco’s health ministry declared on Monday its first coronavirus case, the latest Arab countries to see an outbreak of the potentially deadly disease.
Morocco reported its first coronavirus case, state media reported on Monday, as the outbreak continues to spread across the Middle East and North Africa region.

The Moroccan man reportedly lives in Italy and returned home before being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, a health ministry statement said.

He is currently receiving healthcare at a hospital in Casablanca and his health condition is not critical, the ministry added without providing further details.

The announcement came hours after Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia all recorded their first cases of the COVID-19 virus.

Jordan and Tunisia reported that those who had tested positive for the coronavirus had entered via Italy, the country in Europe with the highest number of cases of the disease.

Read also: Applying essential oil to anus 'cures coronavirus': Iranian cleric

Saudi Arabia announced that its case was a national who had arrived to the kingdom from Iran via Bahrain.

Jordan's Health Minister Saad Jaber told a press conference that the citizen had entered the kingdom from Italy with his family two weeks ago and has tested positive for the disease. 

The Jordanian is being kept in an isolation ward while a second suspected case is also being investigated.

Jaber said that if the kingdom records 20 cases of coronavirus then all schools will close and public gatherings banned. 

Tunisia's ministry of health reported its first case on Monday, saying the patient came from Italy.

Across the wider MENA region, there are over 1,688 cases of the coronavirus, the majority of which are linked back to Iran, which has 1,501 cases.

The latest official death toll announced by Iran stands at 66, though there are fears that the Islamic Republic may be downplaying the number.

Iran has seen the deadliest outbreak of the new coronavirus outside of China, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Experts are worried over Iran's response to the crisis, as the country's rate of deaths to infections, around 5.5 percent, is much higher than other countries.

On Monday, a senior member of Iran's advisory council died after contracting the novel coronavirus, the first top official to succumb to the illness as the Islamic Republic struggles to contain the outbreak.

Read more: How the Middle East is dealing with coronavirus

Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, who is among the officials that advise the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, died at the age of 71 at a Tehran hospital.

On Saturday, recently-elected Iranian MP Mohammed Ali Ramazani died after being tested positive for the deadly virus a few days earlier, The Independent reported.

One of Iran's seven vice presidents, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi are among several senior officials who have been infected.

Many of Iran's neighbours have imposed restrictions on travel to and from the Islamic Republic.

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