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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 18 June Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 18 June

Here's the latest in coronavirus news [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 June, 2020

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Jordan is trialling electronic bracelets to monitor Covid-19 and rights groups condemned Egypt over detention of medics criticising the country's response to the virus. Here's your daily coronavirus update.


Five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 18 June.

1. Jordan to trial use of electronic bracelets in monitoring coronavirus cases

Jordan is set to trial the use of electronic bracelets to monitor confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases from Thursday, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

Jordan's Health Minister Saad Jaber announced on Wednesday that 300 electronic bracelets will be distributed in the initial phase of the trial.

Jaber had previously announced the purchase of 10,000 electronic bracelets to monitor returning students and ensure that suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases remain in self-isolation at home.

The health minister also announced Wednesday there had been six new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Jordan to 987.

The minister of health called on Jordanians to cooperate with the investigation teams and said that some citizens had refused to be tested.

Read more here

2. Amnesty condemns Egypt over detention of medics criticising coronavirus response

Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian government to immediately halt its persecution of healthcare workers who have been jailed for speaking out against the disastrous lack of protection for doctor and nurses battling the coronavirus.

Drawing on interviews and evidence provided by doctors, lawyers and others, the group said the Egyptian authorities had launched a campaign of arbitrary arrests of those who criticise the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and unsafe working conditions, on spurious charges of "spreading false news" and "terrorism".

Whistleblowers have voiced alarm over hospital conditions, a shortage of personal protective equipment [PPE], inadequate infection control training, a lack of testing for health workers, and limited access to life-saving treatment, said the report.

Read more here

3. Sudan extends coronavirus lockdown in Khartoum state

Sudan is extending lockdown measures brought in to halt the spread of coronavirus in Khartoum state until 29 June, its Security and Defence Council announced Wednesday according to Reuters.

The coronavirus curfew, which operates from 3pm to 6am has been extended a number of times over the past months.

Authorities intially imposed the curfew in the capital Khartoum for three weeks from 18 April, which combined with its twin city Omdurman has a population of more than 5 million.

Sudan's Security and Defence Council also said it will start to bring back Sudanese expatriates stranded abroad from Sunday.

Unless the expatriates have a certificate proving they do not have coronavirus, those returning will have to remain in quarantine centres until tested.

Since March, Sudan has imposed a state of emergency, shuttering schools and universities, and almost totally closing its borders.

Read more here

4. UN warns Jordanians are struggling to make ends meet after coronavirus lockdown

Many Jordanians are struggling to make ends meet after the government imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in the world due to the coronavirus epidemic, the UN has said.

Some businesses have re-opened after a nationwide lockdown was announced on 20 March, leading to a complete freeze on business activity in the country.

Jordan had already been rocked by economic challenges before the tough curfews were enacted, but the situation now for businesses looks even more grim, Sara Ferrer Olivella, resident representative of UNDP Jordan, told Reuters.

"Many businesses were not doing well even prior to the crisis, similarly many families have little savings left to cope with income losses due to lockdown measures," Olivella told the agency.

Jordan had already seen sluggish growth of around two percent before the lockdown began, according to the IMF, but now the WTO expects the kingdom's economy to shrink by 3.5 percent this year.

Read more here

5. Qatar Airways says there will be no new planes in 2021 as coronavirus decreases demand

Qatar Airways has said it will not take any new aircraft in 2020 or 2021, deferring orders with Boeing and Airbus as demand diminishes amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Gulf airline, which flew to more than 170 destinations with 234 aircraft as of March, has been hit by airport closures and travel bans imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Read more: Disaster looms for Egypt's political prisoners as coronavirus fears mount

The International Air Transport Association warned in April that air traffic in the Middle East and North Africa would plummet by more than half this year.

"Quite a lot of (deliveries) will be deferred," Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker told Britain's Sky News on Wednesday.

"We have already notified both Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any aeroplanes this year or next year.

"And all the other aircraft that we have on order, that were supposed to be delivered to us within the next two or three years, will now be pushed back to as long as nearly eight to 10 years."

Read more here


Agencies contributed to this report.

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