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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 20 May

Top stories from today [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 May, 2020

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Iranian medics are saying there are new coronavirus symptoms, Egyptian hospitals have reached critical threshold and other stories from today.

Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 20 May:

1. Egyptian hospitals at critical threshold amid mismanagement and fears of more coronavirus cases

Three months after Egypt reported its first novel coronavirus case, medical experts have warned that the strained healthcare system of the Arab world's most populous nation is nearing a "critical threshold".

Hospitals have been hit by a flight of doctors abroad in recent years while the frontline staff left behind face shortages of medical supplies and protective gear that heightens the risk of infection.

The Arab country of more than 100 million people has declared more than 13,000 cases and over 600 deaths from Covid-19 - and daily new infections are still on the rise.

Read more here

2. Saudi Arabia to deport and bar re-entry for expats who flout coronavirus measures

Saudi Arabia warned on Tuesday that expatriates flouting coronavirus lockdown measures at shops will be deported and barred from re-entering the kingdom.

The ministry of interior issued strict guidelines on social distancing rules, which includes banning gatherings outside malls and stores.

This includes harsh fines for commercial establishments that have more shoppers, inside or outside their outlets, than are permitted by social distancing laws.

Read more here.

3. Outrage over travel vlogger's stay on Yemen's Socotra Island during coronavirus pandemic

A social media influencer and travel vlogger has been slammed for refusing to self-isolate or evacuate Yemen's Socotra, potentially putting locals on the isolated island at risk of contracting the disease.

YouTuber Eva Zu Beck arrived in Socotra, located nearly 400 kilometres south of the Arabian Pensinula, on 11 March - the same day the World Health Organisation declared the global coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

Just days later, Socotri authorities decided to close the archipelago's borders. Zu Beck and around 40 other international tourists who had traveled to the island for its first-ever marathon event were told to leave as soon as possible.

Read more here.

4. Algerian courts give tough jail sentences to activists as authorities clamp down on protest movement

Algerian courts have handed tough jail sentences to three opposition activists whose Facebook posts they deemed potentially damaging to the national interest, human rights groups said on Wednesday.

Soheib Debaghi was sentenced in Algiers to one year in prison on charges of encouraging an illegal gathering, insulting an official body and publishing potentially damaging material, the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) announced on its Facebook page.

Human rights group Amnesty International said two other activists, Larbi Tahar and Boussif Mohamed Boudiaf, were handed 18-month prison sentences by a court in the western town of El Bayadh, also for posts on Facebook.

Read more here.

5. Experts in Iran say coronavirus symptoms are changing

Symptoms of the Covid-19 disease in Iran have shifted from respiratory to gastrointestinal manifestations, Iranian epidemiologists have observed.

The disease caused by the novel coronavirus first emerged in China's Hubei province late last year, and has been marked by a number of respiratory symptoms, including high fevers, coughing and shortness of breath.

But as the months press on, doctors and epidemiologists across the world are identifying new indicators of the Covid-19 disease, such as a lack of taste or smell.

Epidemiologists in Iran have observed a shift of symptoms in coronavirus patients requiring hospitalisation, Radio Farda reported on Tuesday.

Read more here.


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