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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 13 April

The five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic in the MENA [TNA]

Date of publication: 11 April, 2020

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As aid agencies warn of a 'disaster in the making' in war-torn Syria, Saudi authorities are splurging millions on 'quarantine hotels'.
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 13 April:

1. Morocco's oldest and youngest coronavirus patients recover fully within hours of each other

A three-month-old baby and a 96-year-old woman have both recovered from the coronavirus in Morocco as authorities said they were working on avoiding the further spread of the disease. 

Mohamed El-Youbi, the director of the epidemiology department at Morocco's ministry of health, told journalists at a press conference on Monday that Morocco's oldest coronavirus patient, a 96-year-old woman, had made a full recovery.

El-Youbi stressed that coronavirus was not a death sentence for elderly patients or those with serious pre-existing conditions.

On Sunday, a three-month-old baby, identified as "Sama", left the King Hassan II Hospital in the city of Fes after she was completely cured of coronavirus.

Read more here.

2. Middle East countries extend coronavirus lockdowns despite economic damage

A number of Arab countries have extended their lockdowns of major cities in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, despite the curfews having a devastating impact on local businesses.

Jordan announced on Sunday that it was extending its lockdown - one of the strictest in the world - until the end of the month, as part of efforts against Covid-19.

The curfew which began on 20 March saw shops closed and people confined to their homes, with a complete pause on everyday life.

Jordan has seen 389 cases of Covid-19 and seven deaths with hopes that the extension of the lockdown could halt the number of reported cases.

Read more here.

3. Coronavirus delays Iran's analysis of downed Ukraine jet's black boxes

Canada and other countries have asked Tehran to delay downloading data on the black boxes from a downed Ukrainian international flight, because of coronavirus travel restrictions, Ottowa said on Sunday.

Iran had in March agreed to hand over black boxes from Flight 752 to Ukraine or France for analysis - a move welcomed by Canada and Ukraine.

The boxes are expected to contain information about the last moments before the Ukraine International Airlines jetliner was struck by a missile and crashed shortly after taking off from the Tehran airport on 8 January.

Read more here.

4. Coronavirus 'disaster in the making' in war-torn Syria

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As Europe and the United States struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic, experts warn that disaster looms in war-torn Syria, where hospitals are unable to meet existing needs and hygiene conditions are dire.

The outbreak has infected more than 1.8 million people and killed more than 112,000 around the world since emerging in China in December last year.

In Syria, the regime has closed borders, forbidden movement between provinces and shut schools and restaurants in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Official numbers are low with two deaths and 25 confirmed cases, but only 100 patients are being tested daily, with half of the testing carried out in the capital Damascus.

Read more here.

5. Saudi Arabia splurging millions on 'quarantine hotels' amid coronavirus outbreak

Saudi Arabia has quarantined thousands of people in hotels, some in luxury suites, to combat Covid-19, throwing a temporary lifeline to an industry struggling just months after tourist visas were launched.

Faced with nearly 4,500 novel coronavirus infections - the highest in the Gulf - the petro-state  has halted air travel, locked down cities and imposed nationwide curfews in a crisis that has dealt a blow to the nascent tourism sector.

Offering a ray of hope, however, the government is splurging millions of dollars to quarantine thousands of overseas travellers and those exposed to infected people in otherwise empty hotels around the kingdom.

Read more here.



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