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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 30 March

A daily brief on Middle East's coronavirus pandemic [TNA]

Date of publication: 30 March, 2020

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Turkish musicians have spread an important message on social distancing via an improvised version of an Italian leftist anthem. Somali doctors lifted spirits by heading to Europe to battle coronavirus.
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East and beyond on 30 March:

Somalia sends 20 doctors to Italy to help in coronavirus fight

A team of 20 Somali doctors have travelled to Italy to take part in the fight against an Covid-19 outbreak, which has devastated the country, Khartoum said on Saturday.

The doctors are a group of volunteers from the Somali National University, government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar said.

"The 20 doctors have already been registered in Italy and are expected to team up with some doctors from across the world to help Italy to contain the novel coronavirus," Omar said.

Omar added that the team's mission to Italy came in response to appeals from Rome for international assistance. Europe is now the continent with the highest recorded death toll from Covid-19, with Italy alone reporting 10,779 fatalities from the illness. Read more here.

Turkish orchestra transforms Italian anti-fascist anthem into anti-coronavirus #StayAtHome song

Members of an orchestra in Turkey have not let the coronavirus pandemic get in  way of creativity. The Istanbul Metropolitan Muncipality Orchestra have transformed an Italian anti-fascist anthem into a Turkish song urging listeners to stay at home due to the coronavirus threat.

The orchestra replaced the refrain of "Bella Ciao", an Italian protest song which has become an anti-fascist movement anthem, with "Evde kal" or "Stay at home".

"Wash your hands, don't go outside," the song starts. "Stay at home, you! Stay at home.". Read more here.

Syria regime quarantines entire eastern village over coronavirus outbreak

A Syrian village in the country's east has been put under lockdown due to a suspected outbreak of the coronavirus in the area, activists have reported.

The town of Duwair, in Deir az-Zour province, has been completely cut off from the rest of Syria, after an elderly couple were found to have the coronavirus, monitoring site DeirEzzor24 reported on Monday.

Regime security forces sealed off entry and exit points to the town and imposed a media blackout about the reported coronavirus cases, the monitoring site said.

These two cases were not included in the official coronavirus tally of nine, which includes one death, the site added.

Activists have alleged that the regime is covering up an outbreak of the virus in the east, where Iranian militias have a strong presence. Read more here.

Israel could hire controversial spyware firm NSO for coronavirus 'grading system'

Israel plans to employ a controversial spyware company, which has been accused of helping authoritarian regimes hack dissidents' phones, in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Haaretz reported.

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett, on Sunday, published plans to fight the Covid-19 pandemic with cooperation between his ministry and private companies, without revealing further details.

Sources told Hebrew-language daily TheMarker that one of the companies in question is NSO Group.

The Israeli software company has for years fought accusations it has supplied Pegasus spyware to authoritarian governments who have used it to hack dissidents' phones. Read more here.

Three Muslim doctors become first physicians in UK to die of coronavirus

Three Muslim doctors in the UK have died of the novel coronavirus in the space of a week, amid reports that National Health Service staff are being denied basic protective equipment to carry out their duties.

The medical practitioners were immigrants of Muslim backgrounds, according to media reports. Sudanese-born ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Amged El Hawrani died in Leicester in central England, after he had tested positive for the Covid-19 illness.

The 55-year-old had been on life support for nearly two weeks. Hawrani's passing followed that of Sudanese surgeon Adil El Tayar and Habib Zaidi, a GP of Pakistani origin. Read more here.



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