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The New Arab Staff

The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 8 June

Today's coronavirus daily update [TNA]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2020

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In today's roundup: Egyptian actress Ragaa Al-Geddawy in a stable condition after receiving a plasma blood treatment for coronavirus and a Yemeni doctor is treating poor patients from his car.
Five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on June 8. 

1. Coronavirus-struck Egyptian actress Ragaa Al-Geddawy now stable after using recently trialled blood plasma treatment

Iconic Egyptian actress Ragaa Al-Geddawy is in stable condition after being injected with a blood plasma treatment whilst in intensive care for coronavirus.

Al-Geddawy, 81, was diagnosed with the deadly virus on 25 May. She was sent to intensive care on 2 June and rumours of her death began circulating shortly after.

Her daughter, Amira, on Sunday debunked any rumours of her death, telling local newspaper Youm al-Sabaa that Al-Geddawy is now in stable condition at the intensive care unit at a hospital in the governorate of Ismailia.

"All praise to God, my mother’s condition is now stable," she said, thanking those who prayed for her recovery. Read more here.

2. 'Stop me if you need': 'Noble' Yemeni doctor treats poor patients from his car

In a war-ravaged country now battling coronavirus, one Yemeni doctor is dispensing medical advice from his car, gathering a large social media following along the way.

"Stop me if you need a medical consultation," reads a large sticker on the rear window of Sami Yahya al-Hajj's four-wheel drive, alongside a cartoon figure of the bearded doctor wearing his square spectacles.

As he offers diagnoses and prescriptions to the poor, the doctor's phone chirps with messages and calls from patients who cough and splutter as they explain their ailments.

Hajj said he started giving free consultations via social media but then wanted to reach to those without access to such technology.

"I thought about the poor and those in need on the streets who cannot get medical advice or don't have the money for it," he said. Read more here.

3. Iranians urged to wear masks in public as coronavirus toll mounts

Iran on Monday urged its citizens to wear masks in public as it announced another 70 deaths from the novel coronavirus and 2,043 new cases of infection.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said the latest figures took the overall toll to 8,351 dead out of a total of 173,832 people infected.

"Everybody must wear masks when attending places like stores or any other place where it is not possible to observe social distancing carefully," he said on state television.

Since announcing its first cases in the Shia holy city of Qom in February, Iran has struggled to contain what quickly became the Middle East's deadliest outbreak of the Covid-19 illness. Read more here.

4. Egyptian actor says he's 'proud to be dark' after racist trolls his coronavirus awareness video sneak peak

Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan shared a screenshot of a colourist comment saying it's a "disaster" that his children aren't "white" like their mother, as dark-skinned Arabs stand up to racism.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ramadan uploaded a photo of himself and his son, saying he was teaching him how to disinfect his room in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I taught my son Ali how to disinfect his room as part of my coronavirus music video. The song will be released in a few days on YouTube and subscribers will be able to see the video a day before. Success comes with trusting God," he wrote.

Minutes later he shared a screenshot of a woman reacting to his post, insulting the way he and his son look due to their skin colour. Read more here.

5. Lebanon 'needs urgent aid' as coronavirus and corruption plunge economy

Lebanon needs urgent international help and long-demanded reforms to shield its people from their country's worst ever economic crunch, the International Crisis Group said on Monday.

"Lebanon will need emergency external assistance to ward off the worst social consequences of the crisis," the Brussels-based think tank wrote in a new report.

"The economic crisis is without precedent in the country's history," the ICG said.

The Mediterranean country's economy has been in freefall since last year, partly sparking mass protests from October against an entrenched political class viewed as inept and corrupt. Coronavirus has exasperated Lebanon's economic crisis. Read more here.

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