The Middle East at war with coronavirus

The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from March 31
3 min read
31 March, 2020
Malaysia tells wives how to behave during the lockdown, prisoners riot in Iran, and the Syrian regime records its second death.
A daily brief on Middle East's coronavirus pandemic [TNA]
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East and beyond on March 31:

Malaysian women's ministry slammed for issuing wives lockdown advice  

Malaysian authorities have issued a series of guidelines on how women are expected to behave during the lockdown, provoking a storm of criticism on social media

The inflammatory advice includes suggestions such as going makeup-free and avoiding nagging one's spouse.

Instead, wives are advised to imitate the squeaky voice of Doraemon, a cartoon robot cat from Japan that is popular across Asia.

The series of ridiculous Facebook posts by the Malaysian women's industry were removed on Tuesday afternoon after social media users accused the government of unapologetic sexism.

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Riots grip southern Iran prison over fears of virus spreading

Riots have erupted in a prison in southern Iran late Sunday over fears of the spread of coronavirus.

Inmates at Adel Abad prison in Shiraz damaged fences and broke surveillance cameras in the latest of a series of violent disturbances led by detainees across the country.

Earlier on Friday, around 70 inmates escaped a prison in Iran's western Kurdish region, beating guards in the process.

The chaos comes as Iranian authorities have moved to release around 100,000 prisoners as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the disease. 

Despite this, riots have broken out in cities across Iran since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 2,700 lives in the Islamic Republic.

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Syria announces its second death from coronavirus-related disease

On Monday, the Syrian regime's health ministry reported that a second person had died of the novel coronavirus.

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The development came on the same day regime forces declared an entire village in the country's east had been placed under quarantine, after an elderly couple tested positive for Covid-19.

There are now 10 confirmed cases in the country, amid fears of the devastating impact an outbreak in the country's war-torn northwest could have.

On Monday, UN Under-Secetary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock warned that Syria healthcare facilities remained extremely fragile and that only half of its hospital and healthcare centres were functional by the end of last year.

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Turkey's President Erdogan donates seven-months salary to combat coronavirus

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to donate seven month sof his salary towards a Covid-19 aid campaign.

The Turkish leader made the announcement on Monday and encouraged other politicians, citizens and businessmen to follow his lead, following a meeting with officials to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am launching the campaign personally by donating my seven-month salary," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his address to the nation, according to state news agency Anadolu.

The National Solidarity Campaign has garnered some 5.2 million Turkish liras ($791,000) in donations from cabinet members and lawmakers, the Turkish leader added.

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Oil prices recover as US and Russia regain optimism in fight against Saudi strategy

Oil prices appeared to rise on Tuesday amid signs of possible Russian and US cooperation to mutually stabilise prices in the face of aggressive Saudi efforts to dominate the market by increasing production.

Brent crude jumped on Tuesday to $23.37 a barrel after closing on Monday at $22.76 - the lowest level since 2002. 

The price drop has been compounded due to the impact of coronavirus on international economies, as well as GCC states increasing production amid a global supply glut.

With continual low prices threatening US producers to the point of bankruptcy, Washington will be forced to act on an agreement with major producer Russia to stabilise prices.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian President Vladmir Putin and his American counterpart Donald Trump had talked by phone about the crisis.

Read more here

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