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The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 19 June

Here's your daily coronavirus update [TNA]

Date of publication: 19 June, 2020

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WHO chief warns virus pandemic 'accelerating' and refugees in Jordan are vulnerable due to the pandemic and lockdown measures. Here's your daily coronavirus news from the Middle East.

Five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 19 June.

1. 85,000 Yemenis could die due to coronavirus in 'worst case' scenario

The number of coronavirus infections in war-ravaged Yemen may already have passed one million, according to a UK government-funded study.

Modelling conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine predicts that up to 10 million people could be infected with Covid-19, with between 62,000 and 85,000 deaths in a worst case scenario.

During a "virtual visit" involving calls to senior Yemeni and UN officials, the UK's Minister for the Middle East urged cooperation from all parties to address Yemen's worsening health crisis.

"This visit has allowed me to hear about the devastating impact coronavirus is already having in Yemen, and I was deeply concerned to hear that there have been over a million cases.

"All parties to the conflict must work with the UN so there is safe access for food and medicine supplies," MP James Cleverly said.

Read more here

2. Iran coronavirus cases top 200,000

Iran has confirmed coronavirus cases of more than 200,000, as state media urges people to socially distance in the wake of the pandemic.

Daily deaths have exceeded 100 most of this week, for the first time in two months.

The Health Ministry announced 120 deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to 9,392, and 2,615 new cases for a total of 200,262.

State television quoted Hossein Erfani, head of the Health Ministry’s contagious disease care department, as saying provinces will be allowed to decide locally to impose or suspend restrictions in the fight against the virus.

“Depending on whether it is high-, medium- or low-risk, each province and county will decide on imposing necessary restrictions or suspending them,” Erfani said.

3. WHO chief warns virus pandemic 'accelerating'

The head of the World Health Organization said the coronavirus pandemic is “accelerating” and that more than 150,000 cases were reported yesterday — the highest single-day number so far.

In a media briefing on Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nearly half of the newly reported cases were from the Americas, with significant numbers from South Asia and the Middle East.

“We are in a new and dangerous phase,” he said, warning that restrictive measures are still needed to stop the pandemic.

“Many people are understandably fed up with being at home (and) countries are understandably eager to open up their societies.” But Tedros warned that the virus is still “spreading fast” and that measures like social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing are still critical.

He noted the toll would be especially great on refugees in particular, of whom more than 80% live in mostly developing nations.

“We have a shared duty to everything we can to prevent, detect and respond to the transmission of COVID-19 detected among refugees in hospitals.”


4. Saudi Arabia records more than 150,000 cases following spike

Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 150,000 coronavirus cases, with some of the highest numbers among the six Gulf Arab states.

Figures released by the Saudi health ministry on Friday showed 4,301 new cases of Covid-19 in the kingdom, pushing the infection tally to 150,292, with 1,184 deaths.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, based on Reuters' calculations, now stands at more than 331,000 with at least 1,800 deaths.

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s daily coronavirus cases rose above 4,000 for the first time, and within a 24-hour period, the capital Riyadh recorded the biggest spike with 1,735 more infections.

5. Lockdown measures in Jordan puts refugees at risk in other ways

Lockdown restrictions in Jordan helped curb the spread of Covid-19, however many refugees have been left vulnerable without access to basic necessities.

Whilst the government has taken strict measures to protect Jordanians from the virus, including police and arms forces patrolling the streets and enforcing a strict curfew, the lockdown had a hard impact on the country’s 745,000 registered refugees, Islam Relief’s Program Manager in Jordan, Olivia Paras, told Relief Web.

The lockdown has disrupted the flow of assistance, and many aid organisations have been forced to suspend their activities following the announcement of a national emergency.


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