Covid-19 cases top 378,000-mark in Mena

27 May 2020
Reopening gets under way across the region as governments seek to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 377,823 on 27 May, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

 

The GCC, with 195,079 cases, accounts for 51.6 per cent of all confirmed infections in Mena.

Saudi Arabia has confirmed 76,726 cases of Covid-19 to date, with 48,450 recoveries and 411 deaths.

A three-phased programme is under way to gradually reopen businesses in Saudi Arabia, with the nationwide curfew expected to end on 21 June, except in Mecca.

Reopening is also under way in Dubai, where cinemas, gyms, retail stores, clinics, sports academies and recreational venues have been allowed to reopen with precautionary measures in place.

Hotels in Abu Dhabi have also been provided with guidelines for conducting operations once their reopening is permitted.

The UAE has confirmed 31,086 cases of Covid-19 to date, with 15,982 recoveries and 253 deaths.

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(27 May 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 76,726
  • Recoveries: 48,450
  • Deaths: 411

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 17 May: Health ministry says number of daily Covid-19 tests has been increased from 5,000-6,000 to 16,000-18,000. New fines have also been also announced for violators of social distancing rules. First-time violators will pay SR10,000 ($2,666) and organisers of illegal gatherings, attendees and those sending invites will pay SR5,000. These fines will double when violations occur for a second time. If the venue belongs to the private sector, it will be closed for three months, and six months if the offence is repeated. Expatriates violating these regulations will be permanently expelled from the country after paying the penalties.
  • 12 May: Saudi Arabia announces a 24-hour curfew for Eid al-Fitr holidays on 23-27 May. Economic activities will remain open and people can move freely from 9am-5pm until then, excluding in Makkah, which remains under full curfew.
  • 12 May: All-day curfew imposed on the Baish governorate in Jazan until further notice. Residents may leave their homes "within the narrowest scope" to purchase essentials from 9am-5pm. Entry to and exit from Baish is banned. Exceptions to the enforcement include vital sectors and their employees.
  • 7 May: Self-sanitisation gates have been installed at Mecca Grand Mosque and gatherings of more than five individuals are banned.
  • 5 May: People violating measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus could be sent to jail, Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry says.
  • 2 May: Dammam to be isolated and entry and exit to be prevented from 3 May until further notice, Ministry of Interior says. Additional precautionary measures have been implemented, and residents may only step outdoors between 9am and 5pm. Essential work such as shipping and freight operations will continue, and vital factories at Dammam's second industrial area will operate at only one third of their capacity, Arab News reports.
  • 1 May: The Saudi Ministry of Health plans to introduce community testing surveys. “If need be, this will be conducted in an organised manner through scheduled screening appointments across the Kingdom,” a source at the ministry told Arab News. 
  • 30 April: Entry to and exit from the Qatif governorate permitted, with movement in the city also allowed from 9am to 5pm. Interior Ministry also announces the resumption of all excluded activities and the continuation of precautionary measures in Qatif.
  • 29 April: Thermal cameras to detect feverish worshippers at the entrance of the Grand Mosque.

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 26 May: Saudi Arabia starts to lift restrictions, with three-phased programme to bring the nationwide curfew to an end on 21 June, except in Mecca. Mosques authorised to reopen with restrictions, but Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages remain suspended.
  • 24 May: Free movement permitted between 6am and 8pm, and domestic flights resumed. Public sector employees will gradually start returning to work from the end of this month.
  • 20 May: G20/OECD taskforce calls for post-Covid-19 infrastructure spend.
  • 18 May: Control and Anti-corruption Authority announces 117 corruption cases, some of which were linked to attempts to combat the economic effects of Covid-19. Security company employees falsified documents to gain more payroll subsidies, and some others in the public and private sectors sought commissions or bribes on hotel lease contracts issued for temporary quarantine centres. 
  • 15 May: Research Centre of King Faisal Specialist Hospital team in Riyadh develops a diagnostic test to detect the coronavirus infection.
  • 14 May: Saudi G20 Presidency to hold an extraordinary meeting today to discuss ways to minimise the disruption to trade and global supply chains affected by Covid-19.
  • 11 May: Ministry of Defense builds two 100-bed mobile hospitals in Makkah. 
  • 11 May: All-day curfew on Samtah governorate lifted and residents allowed to move between 9am and 5pm, but guidelines excluding exceptional activities from curfew restrictions will remain in force.
  • 11 May: Saudi Arabia suspends the cost of living allowance from June and triples the value-added tax (VAT) to 15 per cent from 1 July.
  • 10 May: Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launches the flexible work system for private-sector Saudi individuals and facilities, allowing flexible contractual regulation to help job seekers work on an hourly basis and helping them supplement their income and protect the rights of employees and employers.
  • 9 May: Interior ministry eases curbs in Medina neighbourhoods of Ash Shouraybat, Banidhafar, Qurban, Al-Jumuah and parts of Al-Iskan and Bani Khedira, allowing residents to leave their homes between 9am and 5pm.
  • 6 May: Additional precautionary measures relaxed in Al-Ahsa province's Al-Faisaliah and Al-Fadhliya neighbourhoods.
  • 5 May: More than 300 contributors are revealed to have added SR1bn ($266.3m) to the health ministry's Health Endowment Fund.
  • 3 May: Ministry of Labour and Social Development issues guidance on relations between workers and private business owners during Covid-19. Private sector businesses are permitted to reduce working hours and cut employees’ wages during the next six months, in accordance with their daily or weekly working hours. Wages shall not be reduced by more than 40 per cent of the total salary, and employers must return to paying full wages after six months.  
  • 2 May: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan says the kingdom must "sharply" reduce its budget expenditures, adding all options are open to enforce savings once citizen welfare commitments have been met. 
  • 2 May: Approximately SR1.2bn ($320m) has been distributed to 40,000 Saudi citizens in the private sector affected by Covid-19, Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reports, citing the General Organisation for Social Insurance.
  • 2 May: Social Development Bank's (SDB) aid – which amounts to SR9bn ($2.39bn)  – will benefit 6,000 businesses through a special financing scheme, with a special focus on supporting health care, SPA reports.
  • 1 May: 100-bed field hospital established in Makkah to allow authorities respond more quickly to new cases.
  • 29 April: The US-Saudi Arabian Business Council hosts virtual town hall to discuss the B20’s Covid-19 initiative, which addresses the economic effects of the pandemic.
  • 29 April: Alwaleed Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, follows up previous $9.4m of funding with an extra $20.6m to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 31,086
  • Recoveries: 15,982
  • Deaths: 253

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 20 May: Disinfection to begin two hours earlier in industrial areas. 
  • 18 May: Disinfection programme timings extended by two hours from 20 May. Malls and commercial centres may operate from 9am-7pm, with revised timings to be announced after Eid al-Fitr. Penalties raised for violations of government-issued precautions.
  • 17 May: Abu Dhabi University creates face shield prototype to support local healthcare sector.
  • 15 May: Dubai Health Authority deploys advanced mobile testing unit to conduct Covid-19 screening in labour camps. 
  • 12 May: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, orders free Covid-19 tests for citizens, domestic workers, people of determination, pregnant women, residents who are over 50 years old, people with coronavirus symptoms and the contacts of coronavirus patients.
  • 10 May: Abu Dhabi Police conducts campaign to disinfect Covid-19 ambulances and non-emergency transport vehicles.
  • 9 May: Ministry of Education says distance learning system for all educational levels will remain effective until the end of the current academic year, and a decision for the academic year 2020-21 is still under review.
  • 9 May: Abu Dhabi Police launches mobile coronavirus screening centre.
  • 6 May: Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development issues a reminder to shopping mall owners and managers about ensuring full compliance to precautionary measures as their facilities reopen. Non-compliance may see mall owners fined up to AED10,000 and the facility closed.
  • 3 May: Khalifa University researchers monitor coronavirus levels in municipal sewage to track Covid-19 among general population.
  • 2 May: Abu Dhabi Municipality disinfects 41 shopping centres in Abu Dhabi as part of the National Disinfection Programme.
  • 2 May: Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (Mohre) conducts 560 inspection visits to ensure compliance by private establishments with the precautionary measures imposed to curb Covid-19. The inspections measured compliance with social distancing rules in workplaces, workers accommodations and transportation, as well as health procedures such as the availability of non-contact temperature thermometer devices, minimising the number of workers to not more than 30 per cent of the facility's capacity, and avoiding gatherings and social events.
  • 1 May: The General Headquarters of Abu Dhabi Police is continuing its anti-coronavirus awareness campaign in the emirate's industrial areas. The campaign aims to distribute face masks among workers in their workplaces and accommodation camps and raise awareness of precautionary measures such as the proper use of gloves and adhering to social distancing protocols.
  • 28 April: UAE and Pakistan agree to evacuate Pakistani workers whose work contracts have expired or those who wish to use the labour ministry's Early Leave initiative.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 25 May: Dubai to gradually resume business activity from today. Businesses allowed to operate between 6am and 11pm, and cinemas, gyms, retail stores, clinics, sports academics and recreational venues can open provided they follow social distancing rules. Malls can remain open until 10pm and must operate at 70 per cent capacity.
  • 21 May: Hotels in Abu Dhabi provided guidelines to conduct operations when reopening is permitted.
  • 19 May: Mubadala and Honeywell collaborate to manufacture N95 respirators at Strata’s Al-Ain facility. QuantLase Imaging Lab, the medical research arm of the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange-listed International Holdings Company, announces the development of equipment that enables mass screenings to be conducted more quickly, with test results available in seconds, allowing testing on a wider scale.
  • 18 May: Foreign nationals holding valid UAE residence visas to be permitted to return from 1 June.
  • 17 May: Ajman Tourism Development Department issues guidelines for hotels to safely reopen, including the restriction of occupancy to no more than 30 per cent, temperature checks and the banning of re-usable items such as leaflets, magazines, newspapers and cups.
  • 16 May: Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to form post Covid-19 action plan committee. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity donates AED19m to the Community Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19.
  • 14 May: Dubai Customs launches stimulus package, including a refund of 20 per cent on the customs fees imposed on imported products sold locally in Dubai from 15 March to 30 June; the cancellation of the AED50,000 bank guarantees or cash required to undertake customs clearance activity; refunds of bank guarantee or cash paid by existing customs clearance companies and existing guarantees of clearance companies; an exemption to traditional wooden commercial vessels registered in the country from mooring service fees for arrival and departure, and direct and indirect loading fees at Dubai and Hamriyah Ports.
  • 13 May: Abu Dhabi opens field hospital in Al-Razeen. Sheikh Mohammed grants 10-year residency visas to 212 Dubai Health Authority doctors on the front-lines of fighting Covid-19 and reveals aim to create a more agile government to grow in the post-pandemic era. Emirates airline reveals plan to start scheduled flights to nine cities from 21 May.
  • 12 May: Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management in Dubai allows the refund and return of goods and use of fitting rooms at shopping malls and retail outlets, with previous precautions remaining in place. Public parks opened as well, but gatherings may not exceed five people. Hotels are allowed to reopen their private beaches only to their guests while enforcing stringent preventive measures, the most important of which is mandatory physical distancing between individuals. Sports and recreational activities will be permitted in open spaces for up to five people, including cycling, water sports and skydiving.
  • 12 May: Trams and maritime transport including the Dubai Ferry, water taxis, both traditional and air-conditioned abras, and car sharing services can resume operations according to timelines specified by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
  • 11 May: Abu Dhabi starts receiving applications for 20 per cent refunds on commercial property leases.
  • 10 May: UAE government meets remotely to discuss post-pandemic strategy for future growth.
  • 10 May: Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority announces additional incentives and exemption packages for business partners.
  • 8 May: Mohre instructs private sector employers to grant paid leave to employees with Covid-19 and not terminate their employment.
  • 5 May: Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority sets guidelines to reopen fresh food markets in the emirate.
  • 5 May: Abu Dhabi Customs launches economic stimulus package to support importers.
  • 4 May: Dubai Healthcare City authority announces business relief package for tenants.
  • 3 May: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, directs government entities to develop a strategy for the post-pandemic economy.
  • 1 May: A patent has been granted by the Ministry of Economy for supportive treatment to overcome Covid-19 symptoms using stem cells. The treatment was developed by a team of doctors and researchers at the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Centre and involves extracting stem cells from the patient’s blood and reintroducing them after activating them. The patent was granted for the method through which the stem cells are collected. 
  • 29 April: Travel between the emirates is allowed as long as residents are off the roads and indoors between 10pm and 6am, Dubai and Abu Dhabi police said, according to the National.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 9,366
  • Recoveries: 4,938
  • Deaths: 14

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 19 May: Lower Criminal Court fines owner of a commercial outlet BD1,000 for flouting health regulations that include measuring the temperature of customers and workers before entering the outlet, directing customers to stand 1 metre apart, cleaning and sterilising trolleys before and after use and ensuring workers wear protective gloves. The court has also fined four defendants BD1,000 each for beaching the home quarantine rules imposed on them.
  • 28 April: Police directorates roll out campaigns to promote social distancing.
  • 21 April: Movie theatres, gyms, fitness studios, swimming pools and recreational centres, and salons to remain closed until 7 May. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 22 May: All non-essential medical services to resume operations with social distancing guidelines in place. Salons and barber shops to reopen as of 27 May, and sport exercises in outdoor spaces and swimming pools permitted. Outdoor cinemas are allowed to operate, but indoor cinemas will remain closed.
  • 20 May: BD5m allocated to support Bahraini families in need and individuals who have been affected by Covid-19.
  • 19 May: Eskan Bank starts returning April installments for all the citizens with housing loans.
  • 14 May: Bahrain allows private hospitals to conduct Covid-19 tests.
  • 12 May: Health ministry says medical infrastructure capacity expanded to include 4,257 beds at isolation centres, of which 3,218 are currently occupied, and 5,489 beds at quarantine centres, of which 533 are occupied.
  • 10 May: Manama issues $2bn of bonds.
  • 6 May: Commercial and industrial businesses serving customers directly can resume usual operations starting today, provided all employees and customers wear face masks inside the premises; social distancing is followed; regular disinfection takes place; and appropriately spaced floor markings for queueing at the entrance of the store are placed. Private sector offices must continue to follow remote working where possible.
  • 4 May: AFP reports Bahrain has opened another field hospital on a man-made island located off its east coast.
  • 30 April: New ICU at Sitra field hospital inspected.
  • 29 April: Prime Minister waives three months of rent for tenants and beneficiaries of leased shops and lands registered in with the Supreme Council for Environment.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 22,575
  • Recoveries: 7,306
  • Deaths: 172

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 May: Kuwait makes wearing masks in public mandatory, with jail time threatened for violators. 
  • 17 May: Ministry of Health inaugurates drive-through Covid-19 testing centre at the Jazeera Airways Park and Fly facility at Kuwait International airport.
  • 9 May: Kuwait National Petroleum Company establishes three temporary housing districts in Ardiyah to meet government's quarantine space requirements.
  • 8 May: Kuwaiti government declares full curfew from 4pm on 10 May until 30 May following recommendations by national health authorities.
  • 4 May: Ministry of Education halts work after Covid-19 case detected in a staff member, with headquarters sterilised and studios where long-distance learning lessons are being recorded also closed temporarily.
  • 3 May: Interior Ministry urges citizens and residents to abide by quarantine rules to ensure public well-being and avoid legal action.
  • 20 April: Partial curfew extended for 16 hours a day and national holiday declared until 28 May, with the ministries of interior and information told "to name and shame those violating home quarantine and curfew", government spokesman Tareq al-Mezrem said.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 25 May: Full lockdown to be replaced with partial curfew from 31 May. 
  • 20 May: Kuwaiti researchers develop polymerise chain reaction (PCR)-based coronavirus tests, expected to reduce the need for imports in the country.
  • 14 May: Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah calls for continued compliance with curfew guidelines, adding he hopes for a gradual return to normal life within health guidelines when Kuwait's curfew ends on 30 May. Local authorities made to ensure stockpiles are in place for healthcare and essential goods.
  • 11 May: Kuwait Municipality allows home delivery of groceries on foot.
  • 6 May: Ministries of Education and Higher Educations are committed to resume studies at public and private schools, colleges and universities as scheduled on 4 August, with minister Saud al-Harbi denying speculation about the academic year ending early due to the virus.
  • 30 April: Kuwait Air Force plane returns with medical supplies from China.
  • 28 April: Kuwait Municipality permits reopening of car repair shops affiliated to cooperative societies or located with gas stations.
  • 27 April: Cabinet approves reopening of automotive businesses, as well as asks Ministry of Finance to secure around 3,000 spots to quarantine repatriated citizens, and specialise some hotels for medical purposes. Ministers also decide to postpone the collection of monthly dues for Kuwait's defaulters and family funds for six months as of April.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 8,118
  • Recoveries: 2,067
  • Deaths: 37

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 May: Supreme committee announces ban on all gatherings related to Eid, such as livestock auctions, prayers, greeting gatherings and group celebrations.
  • 5 May: Supreme committee extends lockdown of Muscat until 29 May and announces that the academic year will end tomorrow.
  • 2 May: Directorate General of Health Services opens new Covid-19 testing site in Muscat.
  • 30 April: Ministry of Health opens molecular pathology laboratory at the Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Dhofar Governorate. Salalah Mills Company provided RO150,000 ($390,000) to start the lab.
  • 20 April: Muscat lockdown extended until 8 May, and supreme committee forbids public gatherings and prayers inside mosques during Ramadan.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 18 May: Muscat Municipality permits flower shops, boutiques and shops for women's clothing, shops selling beauty products, utensil shops and communication service halls to reopen, provided they adhere to social distancing and apply precautionary measures and safety requirements. Consulting, law and auditing offices; shops selling construction materials; brick factories; carpentry workshops; blacksmiths; and aluminium companies are also allowed to reopen.
  • 17 May: Temporary hospital for Covid-19 opens in Muscat.
  • 13 May: Government announces additional budget cut worth 5 per cent this year. 
  • 3 May: Khazaen Economic City launches incentives and fee waivers for tenants.
  • 29 April: The Royal Oman Police (ROP) lifts control checkpoints except those operating on roads linked to the province of Muscat. ROP adds that the provinces of Muscat and Muttrah, as well as the commercial market area in the province of Jalan Bani Bu Ali, will remain under health isolation until further notice.
  • 28 April: Supreme Committee approves resumption of work in vehicle repair stores, car and spare parts shops, home appliance outlets and money exchange stores, in addition to quarries and stone crushers. 
  • 26 April: Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry calls for emergency loans to support private sector companies, and urges Oman's supreme committee for Covid-19 to explore reopening some economic sectors.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 47,207
  • Recoveries: 11,844
  • Deaths: 28

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 May: Qatar will close all shops and halt all commercial activities on 19-30 May to curb Covid-19. The closure excludes pharmacies, food supply stores and food deliveries, UAE daily newspaper Gulf News reports.
  • 8 April: Commercial activities barred on weekends with exceptions including restaurant deliveries, petrol stations, hotels, medical companies and construction contracting firms.
  • 21 March: Public parks and beaches closed. 
  • 18 March: Incoming passenger flights to Doha suspended for non-Qataris for a renewable period of two weeks.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 14 May: Face masks are reportedly mandatory for anyone going outdoors from 17 May.
  • 11 May: Money exchange service offices to reopen with mandatory precautionary measures will open on 12 May.
  • 6 May: Qatar Airways plans to cuts jobs to stay financially sustainable as air travel is disrupted. 
  • 12 April: Bloomberg reports privately owned companies incorporated in Qatar can apply for three months of salary support for their workers under a programme for citizens and expat workers administered by Qatar Development Bank. The programme is worth about QAR3bn ($820m) and is part of Qatar’s QAR75bn economic stimulus package to contend with Covid-19.
  • 7 April: Qatar to postpone $8.2bn-worth of project contracts due to coronavirus, according to a bond prospectus, Reuters reports.
  • 6 April: Qatar Petroleum could seek to raise debt next year for its domestic North Field liquefied natural gas (LNG) expansion and will postpone the start of production from its new gas facilities until 2025 following a delay in the bidding process, CEO Saad al-Kaabi tells Reuters.
  • 5 April: Qatar University launches emergency response grant with a budget of up to QR150,000 per research track and invites submissions for research proposals.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 139,511
  • Recoveries: 109,437
  • Deaths: 7,508

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 10 May: Abadan county placed under lockdown after case numbers sharply grow as people flout social distancing rules.
  • 8 May: Friday prayer gatherings resume in Iranian cities and towns seen as being at low risk of Covid-19, Reuters reports.
  • 3 May: Iran plans to reopen mosques and schools in areas that have been consistently free of Covid-19 cases, but health protocols will continue to be enforced.
  • 2 May: Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi says decision to be made on 3 May regarding the reopening of schools and holy sites.
  • 15 April: Study by Iranian parliament’s research centre states the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be nearly double the officially reported figures, due to undercounting and because not everyone with breathing problems has been tested for the virus, New York Times reports.
  • 4 April: Deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, says the greater Tehran area may face a coronavirus resurgence after many residents flouted advisories to stay home.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 May: Plans reported to reopen major shrines across the country, as well as 'high-risk' businesses such as restaurants, cafes and wedding halls in Tehran.
  • 27 April: Reports say Iran will be divided up into white, yellow and red regions based on the number of infections and deaths. President Rouhani added that activities in each region will be restricted accordingly, and an area that has been consistently free of infections or deaths will be labelled white and mosques could be reopened and Friday prayers resumed. The president reportedly added that the label given to any region could change if case numbers evolve, but did not specify when the colour-coding programme would come into force.
  • 25 April: Rouhani says Iran should draw up economic plans based on a worst-case scenario of nearly a year of disruptions due to the coronavirus.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 18,756
  • Recoveries: 5,027
  • Deaths: 797

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 20 May: New cleaning campaigns launched in North Sinai cities.
  • 19 May: High school exams postponed to 21 June. About 6,261 people are arrested in 24 hours for violating night-time curfew rules, Egypt Today reports.
  • 18 May: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly announces curfew from 8pm-6am for two weeks from 30 May, and plans to gradually reopen sports venues from mid-June, Egypt Today reports.
  • 17 May: Madbouly extends night-time curfew by four hours during Eid al-Fitr holidays on 24-29 May, beginning at 5pm instead of 9pm. All public transport will be halted during that period, while beaches and public parks will be closed.
  • 10 May: Suspension of church Mass extended and Shanshur village locked down. 
  • 4 May: Plans being reviewed to extend night-time curfew by 15 days, Egypt Today reports.
  • 3 May: Government plans to convert more clubs, hotels and universities into quarantine facilities. Plans are also in place to replace equipment in existing quarantine hospitals, Egypt Today reports.
  • 1 May: Minister of Health Hala Zayed says citizens' behaviours must change until a vaccine for Covid-19 is discovered, adding that crowding prior to the launch of the night-time curfew ahead of Ramadan is causing the recent spike in cases. Zayed added that the government is monitoring the movement of the citizens through Google's Community Mobility Report, Egypt Today reports.
  • 30 April: Awqaf Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa denies reports that his ministry intends to re-open mosques in the coming days.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 21 May: Cabinet approves 1 per cent cut in state workers' salaries to curb spending amid Covid-19. Some hotels open in Hurghada for domestic tourists. 
  • 17 May: Seven university dorms renovated in case they are needed as quarantine centres. 
  • 15 May: Egypt Air reported to receive £E2bn grant. Government reportedly mulls three-stage plan to gradually reopen businesses and return to normal life. 
  • 13 May: Egyptian courts to gradually resume work after Eid al-Fitr. Cabinet waives procurement fees of medical equipment and drugs used in treating Covid-19, and ministries will set an expenditure rationing plan to offset the economic impact of the pandemic.
  • 12 May: Egypt has received $2.77bn in emergency financing from the IMF, the country's state news agency reports.
  • 8 May: EU Ambassador to Egypt Ivan Surkos says the agency remains committed to providing $96m to help fight Covid-19 in the north African country.
  • 5 May: Workers at 156 hotels, 34 travel agencies, four restaurants and three diving centres reportedly paid government subsidies for the tourism sector. Employees at another 1,262 establishments will be reimbursed in the weeks ahead.
  • 3 May: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi directs government departments to continue construction work with precautions to guard against Covid-19.
  • 1 May: Zayed says Egypt has contacted the US's Gilead Sciences to procure antiviral medicine Remdesivir for Covid-19 patients in the country.
  • 26 April: Egyptian government and central bank request fresh financial package from the IMF to counter Covid-19's economic impact. Discussions with the IMF are at an advanced stage, the cabinet reportedly said.
  • 23 April: Curfew hours shortened during Ramadan and shops allowed to remain open until 5pm, with additional services expected to be reopened partially or gradually from the week starting 26 April. Egypt Today reports the cabinet is also reviewing the resumption of domestic tourism in Egypt.
  • 20 April: State-owned facilities to be used as temporary isolation areas with a total of 4,305 beds in Cairo, Alexandria, Dakahlia, Luxor, Assiut, Ismailia, Minia, Damietta and Qena governorates.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 4,848
  • Recoveries: 2,852
  • Deaths: 169

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 May: Kurdistan 24 reports two-week curfew from 20 May in Baghdad's Sadr, Kadhimiya, 9 Nissan and Mansour districts.
  • 11 May: Curfew extended to run from 5pm to 5am daily, and full lockdown planned for Eid al-Fitr.
  • 20 April: All businesses and factories, except restaurants, can re-open as long as they “commit to apply health prevention and no-gathering measures”, government reportedly says. The public sector will reopen with a quarter of its employees. Taxis and heavy trucks are allowed to operate, but schools and universities remain closed, and a curfew will extend through Ramadan, the National reports.
  • 16 April: Nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak extended until 23 April as government contends with Reuters articles that its true number of Covid-19 cases is far higher than is being reported.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 30 April: Iraq is seeking additional financial assistance from the US, according to Bloomberg.
  • 26 April: Washington grants Iraq a 30-day extension to a waiver allowing the country to import Iranian gas for its dilapidated power grids despite American sanctions.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 718
  • Recoveries: 586
  • Deaths: 9

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 20 May: Full curfew announced from Thursday midnight to Sunday midnight. Lockdown restrictions also eased, allowing citizens to move using their vehicles until 11 pm on 20 and 21 May, with odd and even licence plate numbers to move on different days.
  • 18 May: Mafraq district and Jerash neighbourhood isolated as number of cases once again begins to grow.
  • 16 May: Universities and schools will not open until the end of the school year, Roya News reports.
  • 13 May: Government plans full lockdown on first day of Eid al-Fitr.
  • 12 May: Government publishes guide to help public sector employees work safely as they ready to return to offices on 26 May.
  • 11 May: Use of vehicles banned on the first day of Eid al-Fitr.
  • 8 May: Jordanian drivers arriving at the Al-Omari border between Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be temporarily quarantined in military schools in Azraq as construction continues on a main quarantine site. The decision came after some truck drivers were found to be flouting home quarantine rules.
  • 8 May: Al-Basiliyyah municipality in Mafraq isolated and two buildings in Irbid locked down.
  • 5 May: Minister of State for Media Affairs, Amjad Adaileh, says the Jordanian government will impose a comprehensive curfew every weekend and a partial curfew during the week.
  • 26 April: Holiday extended for public institutions and bodies until the end of Ramadan.
  • 22 April: Ongoing curfew measures to remain in place during Ramadan, with essential employees to work from 10am to 3pm.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 May: Public sector employees start gradually returning to work. Public sector transport excluded from odd-even license plate policy.
  • 19 May: Decision to reopen universities will be taken after Eid al-Fitr. "Returning to normal life is linked to the epidemiological situation," Minister of State for Media Affairs, Amjad Adaileh, says.
  • 11 May: Shops and businesses allowed to resume operations until 7pm every day. Outdoor movement hours extended from 8am-7pm every day.
  • 10 May: Amman Stock Exchange resumes trading.
  • 3 May: Minister of Industry, Trade & Supply, Tareq Hammouri, says all economic sectors are allowed to reopen at their full production capacity from 6 May, provided that the number of Jordanian workers is not less than 75 per cent of the total. The requirement for odd and even licence plate numbers to move on alternate days will be canceled as of 10 May, but education facilities, and social, leisure and religious venues to remain closed. Restaurants will be allowed to provide handling services until 6pm and home delivery services until 8pm from 6 May.
  • 3 May: Public and private construction work allowed to resume, according to the president of the Jordan Contractors Association Ahmad Yacoub. Work is allowed to resume in full and without a specific manpower rate.
  • 30 April: Shops in the malls, excluding arcades, cinemas, cafes and restaurants, will be allowed to resume their work, provided that they apply general safety procedures, according to Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Tareq Hammouri says, according to Roya News.
  • 30 April: World Bank provides Jordan $20m coronavirus relief package.
  • 27 April: Barbershops, beauty parlours, drycleaners and cosmetics shops allowed to reopen. Government offices, schools and universities will remain shut until after Ramadan. Airports and border crossings with neighbours Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are still closed to passenger traffic.
  • 27 April: Residents of Amman can now drive their private vehicles between 8am and 6pm in the first such move since a nationwide curfew nearly 40 days ago that ordered the country’s population of 10 million to stay at home. The odd-even licence plate policy will determine the days on which drivers may or may not drive their cars. It is compulsory for users of public transport to wear masks and gloves.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,140
  • Recoveries: 689
  • Deaths: 26

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 19 May: Prime Minister Hassan Diab reportedly says lockdown will be imposed again with unprecedented measures if citizens do not adhere to social distancing rules.
  • 12 May: Four-day total lockdown announced as cases grow after some individuals flout social distancing rules.
  • 10 May: Government mulls full lockdown for 48 hours after a spike in coronavirus cases following an easing of movement restrictions last week.
  • 6 May: Lebanon reopens mosques for Friday prayers and churches for Sunday mass provided their capacity does not exceed 30 per cent.
  • 5 May: Lockdown extended by two weeks.
  • 25 April: Government extends restrictions till 10 May, and reduces curfew by two hours, Andalou Agency reports.
  • 18 April: Health Minister Hamad Hasan says the country will begin mass coronavirus testing next week.
  • 11 April: Bcharri town goes under lockdown as local authorities administer coronavirus tests, local newspaper the Daily Star reports.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 22 May: 'State of general mobilisation' extended until 7 June. The Daily Star reports Beirut plans to systematically reopen the country, but concerns of a second wave persist.
  • 18 May: Reopening gets under way even as nightly curfew from 7pm-5am remains in place, as does the system to allow odd and even number plate cars on the road on alternate days. Restaurants and cafes can open at 50 per cent capacity. Swimming in the sea and going to the gym or the park remains banned.
  • 18 May: Country to gradually reopen today after four-day lockdown imposed to curb growing number of cases.
  • 13 May: Lebanon launches talks with the IMF to prepare economic rescue plan, with Beirut seeking around $10bn to crawl out of its worst financial crisis in history.
  • 3 May: Seaside promenades reopened with health precaution mandates. Restaurants allowed to resume receiving customers until 9pm, and barbers can reopen salons for pre-booked appointments, Arab News reports.
  • 21 April: Parliament approves $120m loan from the World Bank to fight Covid-19.
  • 17 April: Prime Minister Hassan Diab allocates $797m to cover the costs of Covid-19 in Lebanon.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 7,577
  • Recoveries: 4,881
  • Deaths: 202

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 May: Lockdown extended to 10 June as case numbers continue to grow.
  • 19 April: Lockdown extended to 20 May.
  • 6 April: Face masks made mandatory and violators face prison sentences of up to three months and a fine of up to MD1,300. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 20 May: Arab Monetary Fund extends $127m loan to help Morocco combat Covid-19.
  • 11 May: Central Bank asks local banks to withhold dividends this year to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19.
  • 30 April: 5.1 million Moroccan households receive financial assistance, The North Africa Post reports.
  • 8 April: Morocco has drawn all $3bn of resources available under a precautionary liquidity arrangement with the IMF, worth about 3 per cent of its GDP, to limit the impact of Covid-19.
  • 8 April: National planning agency says Morocco’s economy will contract by 1.8 per cent in the second quarter after growing by 1.1 per cent in the first quarter.
  • 5 April: King Mohammed VI pardons 5,654 prisoners and orders measures to protect inmates from the Covid-19 outbreak.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 77
  • Recoveries: 40
  • Deaths: 3

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 11 April: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, says need for immediate end to hostilities in Libya discussed with Stephanie Turco Williams, the deputy head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
  • 30 March: At least 466 prisoners reportedly freed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 10 April: Libya receives medical supplies from Turkey’s National Defense Ministry.
  • 5 April: State of emergency continues in Libya as former Prime Minister  Mahmoud Jibril reportedly dies from coronavirus.
  • 14 March: Al-Sarraj government in Tripoli declares state of medical emergency and allots LD500m for anti-coronavirus measures.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,051
  • Recoveries: 929
  • Deaths: 48

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 19 April: Lockdown extended till 4 May.
  • 16 April: President Kais Saied announces second extension to nationwide lockdown.
  • 4 April: Tunisia’s parliament cedes some powers to the government for two months to help it handle the coronavirus crisis and the expected economic fallout, with Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh’s government to be allowed to issue decrees, strike purchasing agreements and seek finance without consulting parliament, Reuters reports.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 21 May: Mosques, restaurants and cafés to reopen from 4 June, with universities suspended till at least 8 June, Andalou Agency reports.
  • 20 May: EU council approves $657.3m loan for Tunisia.
  • 16 May: Nightly curfew further relaxed as number of new cases continues to decline.
  • 13 May: Curfew hours relaxed to 11pm-5am from 8pm-6am as number of new cases gradually steadies. 
  • 12 May: PM Fakhfakh reportedly says Tunisia’s need for external funding will double to TND5bn ($1.7bn) this year due to Covid-19.
  • 6 May: Tunisia approaches Nato for in-kind medical aid to support its fight against the novel coronavirus and to contain the outbreak.
  • 5 May: Tunisian banks have lent the government TND1.2bn ($413m) in foreign currency to tackle coronavirus crisis, the Finance Ministry said, according to Reuters.
  • 4 May: Partial easing of lockdowns begins, with reopening permitted for government administrations, public transport and construction projects, according to media reports.
  • 1 May: World Bank approves $20m in healthcare assistance for Tunisia, UAE newspaper the National reports.
  • 14 April: Tunisia’s anti-corruption minister Mohammed Abbou says the government is working to retrieve funds that were allocated to poor families but seized by thousands of public employees, Asharq al-Awsat reports.
  • 11 April: Tunisia secures $745m IMF loan to contend with Covid-19.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 8,697
  • Recoveries: 4,918
  • Deaths: 617

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 19 May: Algeria extends curfew for Eid al-Fitr holiday. Restrictions will be imposed from 1pm-7am in most provinces and 5pm-7am in other parts, Reuters Africa reports.
  • 12 May: Algeria extends measures aimed at restricting movement by 15 days until 29 May to curb Covid-19.
  • 27 April: Lockdown restrictions extended to 14 May. A nationwide curfew and shutdowns of mosques, schools and universities was previously expected to end on 29 April. Public transport and airline flights also remain suspended, and the government has granted paid leave to 50 per cent of state employees. Some shops were allowed to reopen last week.
  • 18 April: Lockdown extended by 10 days until 29 April as case numbers continue to rise.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 11 May: Algiers laboratory, in partnership with Canadian and Jordanian companies, starts production of Covid-19 testing kits with a detection time of 15 minutes and a production capacity of 200,000 units per week.
  • 9 May: Government approves hike of 2-7 per cent in retirement pensions despite financial challenges facing the country.
  • 3 May: Second public spending cut announced, with reduction widening from 30 per cent to 50 per cent. Government expects energy revenue to fall to $20.6bn from the $37.4bn expected earlier this year. Algeria's current $60bn foreign currency reserves will drop to $44.2bn by the end of 2020, down from a previous forecast of $51.6bn. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has reportedly refused to approach the IMF and foreign banks for funding support.
  • 28 April: Annual inflation stood at 1.8 per cent in March, unchanged from the previous month, as prices for most products stabilised. Algeria has been implementing restrictions on imports of some goods to reduce spending after a sharp fall in energy earnings, Reuters reports.
  • 24 April: Shops to be reopened, include those selling materials for building and public works, appliances, fabrics, jewelry, clothing and shoes, cosmetics and perfumes, home and office furniture, pastries and hairdressers in addition to urban transport by taxi.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 249
  • Recoveries: 10
  • Deaths: 49

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 4 May: Public areas including government buildings, markets and mosques to be sprayed with disinfectant as local authorities move to curb Covid-19.
  • 11 April: Authorities in the southeast Yemen province of Hadramout move to curb Covid-19 in the port city of Al-Sheher by imposing further measures, where the country’s first case was announced on 10 April. A curfew from 6pm to 6am has been imposed in all cities of the province, and Hadramout governor Faraj Salmen al-Bahsani has urged residents to comply with the measures and stay indoors as much as possible.
  • 10 April: Yemen’s Ministry of Religious Endowment in Aden said mosques will be closed to mass prayers as well as Quran lessons, UAE newspaper the National reports after Yemen's first case is announced. Partial curfew and 14-day worker quarantine is imposed at Al-Sheher port, and the adjacent province of Al-Mahra has sealed off its entry points.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 18 May: Yemen’s Health Minister Nasser Ba’aom and Minister of Local Administration Abdul Raqib Fatah appeal for international aid. “We need personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, ventilators, finance for the medical workers who work in the Covid-19 centres,” Dr Ba’aom said, according to the National. “We also need medical equipment such as a complete biological unit, testing kits, field hospitals and beds for the intensive care units (ICUs). Additionally, we still need food aid as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.”
  • 28 April: There is a “very real probability” that Covid-19 is circulating in Yemen, the United Nations says, adding that an aid funding shortfall would compromise efforts to combat the virus. Authorities told Reuters they have been unable to track down Yemen's 'patient zero', an important step in tracing people potentially exposed to infection and containing an outbreak.
  • 21 April: International Initiative on Covid-19, comprising multinational companies, says first 34-tonne shipment to reach Yemen next week, and contains 49,000 virus collection kits, 20,000 rapid test kits, five centrifuges and equipment that would enable 85,000 tests, and 24,000 reCovid-19 nucleic acid test kits.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 121
  • Recoveries: 41
  • Deaths: 4

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 7 May: Syria postpones parliamentary elections for second time from 20 May to 19 July as preventive measure to curb Covid-19.
  • 2 April: Syrian authorities seal major shrine that Iranian pilgrims are known to visit.
  • 29 March: Ban on commuting between provinces and all other urban and rural areas takes effect.

Financial measures to minimise the economic crisis:

  • 25 May: Damascus eases lockdown restrictions to support economic growth, but repatriation flights put on hold as recently returned Syrians are treated.
  • 3 May: President Bashar Al Assad says Syria could face a "real catastrophe" if Covid-19 cases grow.
  • 29 April: Syrian government says it is extending the nationwide curfew to stem the spread of coronavirus but has eased the tight lockdown by allowing all businesses and public markets to go back to work. “The ministerial committee agrees to the opening of all popular markets and all commercial industrial enterprises and services firms,” Reuters reported, citing a government statement. Opening hours are restricted between 8am and 5pm.
  • 27 March: UAE offers to support Syria amid Covid-19 outbreak. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces tells Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad that Syria “will not be left alone during these delicate and critical circumstances”.
As of 10.30 GST, 27 May 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during April 2020.

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