Thank you for your reading and interest in the news Middle East countries 'need to act quickly' as coronavirus cases mount and now with details
Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - New cases of coronavirus across the Middle East have prompted a fresh wave of concern as countries try to stem the spread of the disease.
On Saturday, the UAE announced that more people had tested positive while Lebanon reported its first case of coronavirus after a 45-year-old women tested positive following a flight from Qom in Iran, where eight people have now died from the disease. On the same day, Kuwait said that it would send planes to bring 750 Kuwaiti citizens back from the country. Other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have sent planes to bring citizens back from China.
World Health Organisation director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned that the “window of opportunity is narrowing, so we need to act quickly before it closes completely."
Palestinian and Israeli authorities tried to quell concern at the weekend after reports that nine South Korean tourists who visited sites in the Holy Land earlier this month had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Last week, South Korea reported an eight-fold increase in viral infections over four days, taking the total to 433. The country has become the latest hotspot for the disease, which worldwide has infected more than 79,000 people and caused more than 2,400 deaths. The vast majority are in mainland China, where the first case of coronavirus was reported on December 31 in Wuhan province.
The first case of coronavirus was reported this week when a 45-year-old woman tested positive after a flight from Qom in Iran on Thursday. Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced on Saturday that everyone travelling from Iran, where six people have now died from the virus, will be tested before boarding flights to Lebanon. However, the government has refused to cancel flights from Iran, prompting an outpouring of anger from the Lebanese.
“We have made contact with Iranian authorities who assured us that all necessary measures will be taken before a new flight arrives from Iran on Monday. The same measures will be taken for all flights arriving from coronavirus-infected countries,” Lebanon's health minister Hassan Hamad said, according to local news outlet Naharnet.
Some in the deeply divided country have blamed Iran, which supports the Hezbollah group in Lebanon. The local MTV station, which is a harsh critic of Iran and Hezbollah, said in an editorial, “as if what Iran is sending to Lebanon and the Lebanese is not enough so it sent us coronavirus.
The occupied Palestinian territories and Israel
A coronavirus helpline was flooded with calls in Israel after authorities ordered people to report to Israel’s Health Ministry and observe a two-week quarantine following reports that visitors to the Holy Land had contracted the coronavirus.
On Saturday, the ministry announced that nine South Korean nationals, who travelled to holy sites in Israel and the occupied West Bank earlier this month, had tested positive for the disease. It is not yet known whether they were infected with the virus before or after arriving.
On Friday, Israel reported its first case of coronavirus after 11 Israeli passengers were flown home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, which has the largest cluster of cases outside mainland China. All members of the group had initially tested negative for the disease but were tested again on arrival. A woman tested positive as a carrier but is not exhibiting any symptoms of the disease.
Israel has now increased its quarantine regulations to require all arrivals from South Korea and Japan to spend two weeks in quarantine.
Authorities confirmed on Sunday that eight people have now died from the coronavirus in Iran, with 43 infected. Schools, universities and cultural centres have been closed in 14 provinces across the country as a “preventative measure,” state TV reported. Art and cinema events were also cancelled to stop the spread of infections. "We are on the frontlines, we need help," Mohammadreza Ghadir, the head of Qom's medical sciences university, said on state TV.
The World Health Organisation expressed concern that the rapid rise in cases in Iran could spread to other countries in the region. “We have seen an increase in cases, a very rapid increase in a matter of a few days," said Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO's global infectious hazard preparedness department.
A case of coronavirus was announced on February 14 but, days later, Egypt’s health ministry said the individual had subsequently tested negative for the disease.
Updated: February 23, 2020 04:57 PM
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