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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 24 April

Here are the coronavirus updates you need to know [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 April, 2020

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Malls in the United Arab Emirates reopen, Iran says it is no longer at 'red status' and Muslims begin fasting under coronavirus lockdown. These are some of today's top stories.
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East and beyond on April 24:

1. UAE reopens malls, eases curfew for Ramadan after coronavirus shutdown

The United Arab Emirates decided on Thursday to reopen malls, cafes and restaurants and ease lockdown restrictions imposed last month to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the occasion of Ramadan.

The curfew will be from 10 pm to 6 am while malls will be allowed to operate for 10 hours daily starting from midday on Friday, the first day of the Islamic holy month, an official statement cited by the state-run WAM news agency said.

Supermarkets, food outlets, groceries and pharmacies will be allowed to operate round the clock, but mosques will remain shut during the holy month, the statement said.

2. Muslims mark the first day of Ramadan under unprecedented virus lockdown

Muslims around the world began marking Ramadan under coronavirus lockdown on Friday with unprecedented bans on family gatherings and mass prayers, while a pushback in some countries has sparked fears of a surge in infections.

Read also: How coronavirus has changed the way Muslims celebrate Ramadan

This year, the holy daytime fasting month will be a sombre affair for many across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Widespread rules have been imposed banning praying in mosques or meeting relatives and friends for large "iftar" meals at dusk - a centrepiece of the month-long fast.

3. Iran says no longer at "red" status as Covid-19 death rate steadies

Iran's health ministry spokesperson said all Iranian provinces were out of the 'red' zone for Covid-19, as the country beings to ease virus restrictions.

Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the 93 novel coronavirus fatalities recorded in the past 24 hours took Iran's overall death toll to 5,574.

4. Lebanon tightens security around refugee camp after coronavirus outbreak

Lebanese authorities closed all entrances to a Palestinian refugee camp in the country's eastern on Friday after four more people tested positive for the coronavirus, heightening concerns the virus could further spread among its overcrowded population.

The four infected with the virus are relatives of a woman who tested positive earlier this week and are isolating inside their home, according to a statement from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. It said they were so far not in need of hospital treatment.

5. Saudi-led coalition extends Yemen ceasefire by a month due to virus pandemic

The Saudi-led coalition said on Friday it was extending a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen by one month to combat the coronavirus pandemic, even as fighting persists in the war-torn country.

The extension comes after Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi rebels rejected a two-week ceasefire declared by the military coalition that ended on Thursday.

Read also: Exiled in Egypt: Yemeni medical travellers stranded by war dream of home

During the two-week truce, battles persisted between the Houthis and Yemen's Saudi-backed government while coalition jets mounted dozens of air raids on rebel targets.

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