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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 16 April

Get your daily coronavirus update here [TNA]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2020

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Emirates Airline is conducting rapid coronavirus testing for passengers, Israel arrests 'anti-Palestinian' extremist settlers who escaped quarantine camp in occupied West Bank and other stories in today's daily roundup.
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 16 April:

1. Sudan police use coronavirus response to fire teargas at supporters of ousted dictator Bashir

Sudanese police fired teargas Thursday at backers of ousted president Omar al-Bashir who demonstrated outside the army command's headquarters in Khartoum, demanding the fall of the transitional government, witnesses said.

The protesters - who lambasted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's recent austerity policies and higher food prices - rallied in defiance of Sudan's ban on large gatherings to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

2. Imprisoned Egyptian pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah launches hunger strike

The prominent Egyptian writer and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has launched a hunger strike against the conditions of his detention in notorious Tora prison as the Covid-19 outbreak snowballs.

A statement from his family said the conditions of Abdel Fattah's detention are "the worst of all his previous detentions dating back to 2006".

They said they were informed of the strike on 13th April.

Egypt's prisons have been sealed off from visitors, lawyers and almost all communications since 10 March. Authorities claim this is a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

3. Egyptian actress said anyone defying coronavirus lockdown should be hit with slippers... including essential workers

An Egyptian actress has come under fire this week for urging violence against people flouting Egypt's coronavirus lockdown, including essential workers such as doctors and nurses.

On her private Facebook account, actress and former Miss Egypt Dalia Al-Behery slammed Egyptians who venture outdoors and called on authorities to implement a stricter lockdown.

"I am imprisoned at home, my family and I are entering our 36th day," she said. "We are respectable people and God forbid one of us gets sick and can't find a hospital bed because some irresponsible animal went wandering or didn't care about our current state."

"Whoever will talk to me about daily work, I will answer with the slipper," she added. "Most charities [...] started begging before Ramadan even began, so no one can tell me they will not eat, and many will avoid working all year anyway."

4. Israeli police arrest 'anti-Palestinian' extremist settlers who escaped quarantine camp in occupied West Bank

Israeli police on Thursday arrested two members of an extreme far-right settler group suspected of attacking Palestinians and firebombing their cars after they fled a military-run quarantine camp in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

Police said they apprehended the pair as they drove down the Route 90 highway in the eastern West Bank.

They also found what they believed to be stolen military tents and equipment in their vehicle. 

5. Emirates Airline 'the first' to conduct rapid coronavirus testing for boarding passengers

Aviation giant Emirates has launched a 10-minute coronavirus blood test for passengers departing from its Dubai home base, in what it claimed Wednesday as a first for the industry. 

The airline resumed limited passenger flights earlier this month after the United Arab Emirates grounded all commercial aircraft. 

The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the country, but no incoming passengers are allowed.

"Passengers on today's flight to Tunisia were all tested for COVID-19 (respiratory disease) before departing from Dubai," the airline said in a statement.

"Emirates is the first airline to conduct on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers."

The blood tests were conducted by the Dubai Health Authority in the check-in area, with results coming out within 10 minutes.

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