Covid-19 cases top 885,600-mark in Mena

05 July 2020
UAE notes surge in cases as testing capacity is ramped up amid loosening of restrictions

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 885,590 on 5 July, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

The GCC accounts for 54.1 per cent of all confirmed infections in the region.

Case numbers surged in the UAE on 4 July, when 71,000 tests were said to have revealed 716 new cases of Covid-19.

The UAE also confirmed 704 recoveries and three deaths on 4 July, taking the total number of cases to 50,857 with 39,857 recoveries and 321 deaths in total.

The figures are understood to have increased as testing capacity ramps up in the country amid the loosening of restrictions.

Outside the GCC, Iran accounts for 26.9 per cent of all Mena cases.

To date, the country has confirmed 237,878 cases of the new coronavirus, with 198,949 recoveries and 11,408 deaths.

Starting today, wearing masks is mandated in the country as fears of a second wave loom large in Iran.

Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week. Government employees that do not wear masks will be considered absentees. 

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(5 July 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 205,929
  • Recoveries: 143,256
  • Deaths: 1,858

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 30 June: Ministry of Health calls for caution amid suggestions that Covid-19 pandemic might be reversing during the hot summer weather, urging residents to abide by precautionary measures to curb the spread.
  • 27 June: Health ministry issues precautions to allow the gradual return of workers to offices.
  • 24 June: Expats stranded outside Saudi Arabia told to wait until Covid-19 pandemic is over to return to the kingdom, Arab News reports. 
  • 22 June: Saudi Arabia confirms plans to host limited Hajj, with only residents of the kingdom to be permitted to conduct the pilgrimage. 
  • 20 June: Health ministry releases guidelines for residents using taxis and ride-hailing services, mandating electronic and cashless payments and outlining rules for passenger behaviours. Labour ministry says government offices should operate at 75 per cent capacity, with workers to enter premises at staggered times and work in shifts. 
  • 18 June: Free Covid-19 drive-through testing centres open in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. 
  • 17 June: Ministry of Sports releases guidelines that sport clubs and training areas must follow when restrictions are eased on 21 June. Guidelines are also expected for gyms and private facilities. 
  • 14 June: Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority launches Tabaud app to alert people if they have been in contact with Covid-19 patients.
  • 13 June: Ministry of Health launches campaign to ensure Saudi residents maintain social distancing.
  • 12 June: Reports emerge that Saudi Arabia is mulling the cancellation of the Hajj pilgrimage for the first time since the country's formation in 1932.
  • 11 June: Seventy-seven mosques to open in Al-Jouf region to ensure social distancing and help to avoid crowding. 
  • 10 June: Recently opened mobile lab has completed 6,000 Covid-19 tests in Madinah to date.
  • 8 June: Saudi Arabia takes delivery of 14 million face masks flown into King Abdul Aziz International airport in Jeddah from Guangzhou, China. The Saudi Food & Drug Authority will ensure the products comply with safety standards before distributing them to health authorities. 
  • 5 June: Interior ministry places 15-day curfew in Jeddah from 3pm–6am from 6 June. Mosques closed again and government and private sector employees in the city barred from working in offices. Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited, but domestic flights and train journeys will continue to operate and people can enter and exit the city outside of the curfew.
  • 2 June: Precautionary measures and guidelines introduced for more sectors, including factories, mining, internal aviation, intercity buses, car rental vehicles, ferries at Jizan and Farasan Islands, tourist accommodation facilities, postal and logistics services and farms.
  • 31 May: Interior ministry revises regulations on gatherings and penalties. Preventive protocols introduced for mosques, offices, oil and gas facilities, construction sites and offices and restaurants, among other sectors.
  • 30 May: Saudi Arabia could return to extreme precautionary restrictions if the number of Covid-19 patients exceeds the medical sector’s capacity, Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah told Al-Arabiya. “Public awareness and adherence to precautionary measures is essential to continue the ease of restrictions," he added.

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 2 July: Royal decree issued to extend government initiatives supporting businesses, employees and investors and the private sector. Measures include postponing VAT payments and accelerating reimbursements, and partial exemption from expired residency and iqama fees for an additional month. 
  • 28 June: Saudi-US scientific research team comprising Saudivax and the US's Abound Bio enters licensing agreement to develop Covid-19 treatment, Arab News reports.
  • 24 June: IMF cuts forecast for Saudi Arabia, stating it expects the kingdom's GDP to contract by 6.8 per cent instead of its April estimate of 2.3 per cent in 2020.
  • 21 June: Full resumption and reopening gets under way. All commercial and economic activities are to resume in all Saudi cities and regions with healthcare precautions in place. Domestic flights resume and mosques open in Makkah, but international flights, travel through sea and land points and Umrah pilgrimage and visits to holy sites remain suspended.
  • 16 June: SR3.7bn ($1bn) stimulus package to support more than 500 small and medium-sized industrial companies affected by Covid-19 launched by Saudi Industrial Development Fund.
  • 8 June: Job fund Hadaf says it deposited SR379m in the bank accounts of 253,000 beneficiaries in May.
  • 7 June: Temporary hospital opened at Jeddah International Exhibition and Convention Centre, comprising 20 beds, with a capacity of 500 beds. Thirty-one clinics for individuals with Covid-19 symptoms also opened in Riyadh, Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, Al-Qassim and Al-Ahsa.
  • 2 June: Mobile laboratory to conduct Covid-19 tests launched in Medina. It has a daily capacity of 10,000 tests and is manned by 84 medical professionals.
  • 1 June: Al-Ula tourism site to reopen in October. Saudi Shoura Council approves draft system for the Tourism Development Fund. 
  • 31 May: Business activity and domestic flights resume and 90,000 mosques reopen with precautions, in all provinces except Makkah.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 50,857
  • Recoveries: 39,857
  • Deaths: 321

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 28 June: UAE suspends all flights arriving from Pakistan, one of Asia's worst-hit countries for Covid-19. 
  • 27 June: UAE authorities urge public against recklessness in terms of following precautionary measures.
  • 22 June: Restriction on movement into Abu Dhabi to continue with some exceptions for another week, and entry of non-resident workers remains prohibited. Residents may move freely between the Abu Dhabi, Al-Ain 
  • 15 June: Abu Dhabi extends movement ban for one week from 16 June. 
  • 10 June: Two Covid-19 screening clinics launched in Al-Ain.  
  • 8 June: Abu Dhabi extends movement ban by one week. Sharjah government tests employees for Covid-19 before their return to offices. 
  • 5 June: National Emergency Crisis & Disaster Management Authority issues safety and hygiene advisories for hotel establishments prior to their reopening.
  • 31 May: Movement prevented to and from Abu Dhabi, as well as transit within its regions, for one week from 2 June. Dubai introduces new guidelines for mask usage outdoors.
  • 30 May: National Disinfection Programme timings amended to 10pm-6am in all emirates except Dubai. 
  • 20 May: Disinfection to begin two hours earlier in industrial areas. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 4 July: Abu Dhabi residents allowed to take 48-hour trips outside the emirate. Motorists must get tested in the city before they leave and display these results upon their return. Commuters travelling into Abu Dhabi from other emirates must still be tested before they arrive at the border.
  • 3 July: UAE citizens and residents are now able to travel. Travel will only be permitted if the individual receives a negative Covid-19 result and has international health insurance that is valid throughout the period of travel, and covers the destination they are travelling to.
  • 26 June: Two private UAE companies sign agreement with two Israeli firms to develop research and technology to fight Covid-19.
  • 24 June: Curbs on night-time movement lifted as sterilisation programme is completed. Children under the age of 12 may visit shopping malls and restaurants in all seven emirates. However, public gatherings will remain prohibited.
  • 23 June: China National Biotec Group approved to conduct large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in the UAE. China is conducting these tests overseas as they typically require thousands of participants, and the global epicentre of the virus no longer has enough cases to conduct these trials.
  • 22 June: Ministry of Education reveals plans for possible resumption of schools in the new academic year. Options under review include smaller classrooms, temperature checks, a ban on sharing food and a 30 per cent cap on school bus capacity.
  • 21 June: Dubai airports may receive tourists from 7 July, provided travellers can present a recent Covid-19 negative test result or undergo testing at the airport. Residents stranded abroad and holding Dubai-issued visas may start returning from 22 June, and citizens and residents are permitted to travel abroad from 23 June, provided the country they are travelling to has agreed to receive them. Federal discussions are under way to review the possibility of reopening schools for the 2020/21 academic year, and Sharjah government offices raise in-office workforce from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
  • 17 June: Restrictions are further eased as UAE test figures cross 3 million-mark. Adults up to the age of 70 can enter malls, but the lower age limit of children under 12 is still in force for emirates other than Dubai. Emiratis can travel to certain countries, and destinations have been divided into three categories: low-risk (no restrictions), medium risk (travel for specific purposes) and high-risk countries (no travel). Home care services will also resume in Dubai, and public libraries, private museums and art galleries will reopen. Abu Dhabi's cultural sites to reopen on 24 June.
  • 15 June: Travel to certain destinations will be permitted for citizens and residents from 23 June. Sharjah Private Education Authority reviews schooling options for next academic year. 
  • 14 June: UAE Cabinet approves bonuses for vital emergency workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 13 June: Initiative launched to facilitate the return of about 200,000 expatriate residents to the UAE.
  • 10 June: UAE Central Bank expects recovery of economic activity in the second half of 2020. The bank says its Targeted Economic Support Scheme and economic stimulus packages announced by both local and federal governments will weigh in positively on the purchasing managers' index, real estate prices, employment and credit growth.
  • 8 June: Residency law violators permitted to leave the UAE without paying penalties. Cabinet to exempt Hajj- and Umrah-related businesses from licence renewal fees from March to December 2020, and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments will extend the validity of expired licences until this period.
  • 7 June: Al-Razeen Complex, with capacity for 9,984 patients, opens near Al-Raha in Abu Dhabi to quarantine patients.
  • 6 June: Dubai Future Foundation develops ventilator prototype to support local and global healthcare efforts.
  • 3 June: Transit flights will be resumed at Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah international airports and be operated by local carriers Etihad, Emirates, Flydubai and Air Arabia. Passenger flights remain suspended until further notice.
  • 2 June: Shopping malls and private businesses permitted to operate at full capacity.
  • 1 June: Ras Al-Khaimah outlines requirements to reopen restaurants, cafés and gyms from 3 June. 
  • 31 May: Abu Dhabi raises mall capacity and the capicity of restaurants within malls to 40 per cent. Hotel beaches, restaurants outside malls, and museums are also allowed to reopen with a capacity of 40 per cent, but public beaches remain closed.
  • 30 May: More business activities resume in Sharjah and Ajman and Dubai Culture reveals plan to reopen museums on 1 June. 
  • 28 May: UAE Government announces 30 per cent of federal ministry employees will work from offices starting 31 May, with exemptions to be made for high-risk individuals.
  • 27 May: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, says 50 per cent of Dubai Government employees are to return to work from 31 May, with all Dubai government employees to return from 14 June.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 28,857
  • Recoveries: 23,959
  • Deaths: 96

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 June: Legislators table bill proposing mandatory distance learning in the new school year due to Covid-19.
  • 22 June: Bahrain International airport adopts new security measures that include mandatory face masks and temperature scanning, social distancing measures and limited access to airport areas to ensure biosecurity protocols are being followed.
  • 20 June: Lower Criminal Court fines nine defendants BD1,000 each for violating health regulations and measures to combat Covid-19.
  • 3 June: Plans to resume Friday prayers this week postponed.
  • 1 June: Edamah temporarily closes Bilaj Aljazayer beach after non-compliance noted during Eid al-Fitr holidays.
  • 1 June: Health measures for outdoor training activities issued for registered professional athletes. The club or federation must prepare a timetable for pre-booked training sessions and no walk-ins will be allowed. Face masks are mandatory and social distancing is to be followed.
  • 19 May: Lower Criminal Court fines owner of a commercial outlet BD1,000 ($2,648) 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 breaching the home quarantine rules imposed on them. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 29 June: Government to pay 50 per cent of salaries for private sector workers most impacted by Covid-19. Payments to start from July, with government also confirming extension of assistance to Bahraini citizens by paying their electricity and water bills.
  • 21 June: National Taskforce for Combating Coronavirus is said to be in discussions with Bahrain's Interior Ministry, Bahrain Airport Company and Gulf Air to establish a Covid-19 protocol for Bahrain International airport in Manama. 
  • 15 June: Ministerial Committee for Financial & Economic Affairs & Fiscal Balance is to review studies and initiatives submitted by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Bahraini Businessmen's Association on the sectors that have been affected by Covid-19. The panel is also tasked by the cabinet with studying the impacts of the pandemic on the Bahraini economy, and is to submit its recommendations on the two matters. The cabinet also endorsed, based on a recommendation by the Government Executive Committee, a draft decree on including emergency expenses in the general state budget for 2020. Submitted by the Minister of Finance & National Economy, the bill aims to allocate a budget not exceeding BD177m to deal with the emergency expenses required for mitigating Covid-19's impact and curbing its spread.  
  • 5 June: Ministry of Education confirms new academic year will begin in September with precautions in place to curb Covid-19.
  • 31 May: Flag carrier Gulf Air resumes flights to Pakistan.
  • 28 May: Shura Council reportedly plans to revisit existing legislation and modify it as necessary amid Covid-19.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 49,303
  • Recoveries: 39,943
  • Deaths: 365

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 18 June: Public sector employees will not be allowed to return to work from offices following week due to growth in Covid-19 cases. 
  • 18 May: Kuwait makes wearing masks in public mandatory, with jail time threatened for violators.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 2 July: Kuwait International airport to reopen from 1 August, and will operate at 30 per cent capacity for six months, capping out at 10,000 passengers and 100 daily flights. The country plans to raise capacity to 60 per cent in February 2021 and full capacity in August 2021.
  • 25 June: Second of five-phase plan to restore normalcy by September to begin on 30 June and span three weeks. Curfew hours to be reduced to 8pm to 5am. Public and private sectors will resume work with less than 30 per cent capacity, in addition to the resumption of work in the financial and construction sectors, malls and retail shops, parks, and pick-ups from restaurants and cafés. Lockdown on Farwaniya, Jleeb al-Shuyoukh and Mahboula to continue until further notice.
  • 23 June: Sports activities to resume on 28 June, Public Authority for Sport announces. 
  • 22 June: Central Bank of Kuwait says local banks have provided credit facilities worth KD2.7bn ($8.9bn) to businesses since the government's launch of a stimulus package this April.
  • 21 June: Curfew reduced to 10 hours (7pm–5am) as part of measures to ease restrictions. Lockdown of Hawally, Nuqra, Maiden and some blocks in Khaitan to be lifted, and limited travel to be permitted for citizens with health conditions or those studying abroad, Gulf News reports.
  • 12 June: Higher Committee for Re-operating Flights at Kuwait International airport to start reviewing proposals for gradually resuming commercial flights.
  • 5 June: 300 Cuban doctors and nurses flown in to assist efforts to treat Covid-19. The country will take delivery of the first shipment of Favipiravir, an anti-viral medication sold under the brand name Avigan, from Japan this week. 
  • 2 June: Expatriates' residency permits and visas due to expire in June extended for three months.
  • 1 June: Parliament to reconvene on 16 June and discuss the government's response to Covid-19 as its first priority. The parliamentary term will be extended to compensate for the suspension of sessions because of the outbreak.
  • 31 May: Twelve-hour partial curfew from 6pm–6am starts today as part of a five-phase plan to gradually return to normal life, and mosques will reopen. Al-Farwaniya, Khaitan, Holi, Jleeb Al Shuyoukh and Mahboula will remain under lockdown.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 45,106
  • Recoveries: 26,968
  • Deaths: 203

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 21 June: Labour ministry may fine private sector facilities up to RO500 for violating public health procedures. 
  • 3 June: Tourism ministry issues guidelines for hotels, including instructions such as transparent face masks for receptionists, hand sanitisers for guests and keeping swimming pools and gyms closed until further notice.
  • 18 May: Supreme committee announces ban on all gatherings related to Eid, such as livestock auctions, prayers, greeting gatherings and group celebrations.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 2 July: Health minister Ahmed bin Mohammad al-Saeedi says 'scary' growth in Covid-19 cases has led the sultanate to create plans for raising healthcare capacity, with a temporary hospital for non-urgent cases expected to be established in Muscat.
  • 24 June: More than 50 commercial and industrial activities reopen, including real estate offices, travel agencies, maintenance businesses and dry cleaners.
  • 23 June: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issues orders to ratify an emergency interest-free loan for sectors most impacted by Covid-19, including male and female entrepreneurs, especially holders of the Riyada card, SMEs, those who work for their own business and beneficiaries of the Oman Development Bank loans and Al-Raffd Fund.
  • 22 June: Supreme Council for Planning reviews Covid-19's impact on the Omani economy, and agrees to reschedule the implementation of projects according to priority and exploring private sector collaboration, to plug Oman's budgetary deficit this year.
  • 17 June: Oman is preparing standard operating procedures for the reopening of its aviation sector, but a timeline has yet to be confirmed.
  • 14 June: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq sets up a national committee to counter the economic impact of Covid-19. 
  • 9 June: People with expired IDs, driving licences and passports will not be fined and their documents can be renewed after the Royal Oman Police's customer service centres reopen, Oman Police says.
  • 8 June: Ministry of Transport submits plan for the resumption of flights to the Supreme Committee in charge of Covid-19. 
  • 7 June: Wholesale trade at Al-Mawaleh Central Market for Fruits and Vegetables allowed to resume from today between 10pm and 6am. The market will remain closed for private vehicles, retailers and unauthorised workers
  • 6 June: Lockdown imposed on Muttrah since 1 April is lifted. Parts of the province will remain closed for a short period, but commercial activities will be allowed to resume from 7am–7pm. Industrial activities in the Grand Valley region will not be allowed, and the Mutrah commercial market will not be opened.
  • 30 May: Fifty per cent of Muscat employees permitted to return to offices, but Muttrah wilayat remains in isolation.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 99,183
  • Recoveries: 90,387
  • Deaths: 123

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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 1 July: Second phase of economic resumption begins. Commercial activities were allowed to resume in malls and commercial centers, while gaming centers, amusement parks, skateboard arenas, prayer rooms and cinemas will remain closed. Restaurants operating inside malls and commercial centers are allowed to deliver to home addresses, or hand over orders at the restaurant only. This decision also prohibits any artistic, cultural or recreational activities at malls and commercial centers.
  • 28 June: Supreme Committee for Crisis Management says restaurants, public beaches and parks to reopen at limited capacity from 1 July. Public and private gatherings of a maximum of five people will be allowed, and employees in the public and private sector can work from office at 50 per cent capacity.
  • 24 June: Cabinet permits government and private sector offices to be staffed at 50 per cent capacity from 1 July. 
  • 17 June: Flag carrier Qatar Airways' CEO Akbar al-Baker says the airline will not take any aircraft deliveries in 2020 or 2021, with deliveries planned over the next two to three years to be pushed by eight to 10 years. Al-Baker said the airline would reduce its fleet by about 200 jets.
  • 15 June: Qatar Airways reportedly plans to lay off 20 per cent of its workforce (9,200 staff). The basic pay of two senior pilot grades will be reduced by a quarter while junior pilots will face 15 per cent pay cuts. These measures will not impact Qataris, reports say. 
  • 10 June: Government-funded entities have reportedly been told to cut costs and benefits for expatriate staff. The finance ministry has asked that costs for expat staff are cut by 30 per cent from 1 June through salary reductions or layoffs two months from then. 
  • 9 June: Four-phase programme planned to lift restrictions, starting 15 June. Mosques will reopen, UAE newspaper the National reported. Phases 2, 3 and 4 of easing restrictions will begin on 1 July, 1 August and 1 September, respectively. Restaurants will partially reopen under phase 2. Flights will resume from low-risk countries and malls will reopen with limited capacity under the third phase. The final phase will lift restrictions on gatherings such as weddings and allow the reopening of cinemas.
  • 7 June: Mall of Qatar exempts tenants from June rents.
  • 14 May: Face masks are reportedly mandatory for anyone going outdoors from 17 May.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 237,878
  • Recoveries: 198,949
  • Deaths: 11,408

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 4 July: Wearing masks is mandated. Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week. Government employees that do not wear masks will be considered absentees. 
  • 28 June: Campaign launched to encourage Iranians, especially young individuals, to wear masks.
  • 20 June: Iran may make it mandatory to wear masks in public places and covered spaces, President Hassan Rouhani said, according to Reuters.
  • 19 June: Health ministry urges caution as cases cross 200,000-mark. Provinces to be allowed to decide level of restrictions, Hossein Erfani, head of the Health Ministry’s contagious disease care department, reportedly said.
  • 13 June: Restrictions will be reimposed to curb cases if existing health regulations are not observed, President Hassan Rouhani says.
  • 8 June: Health ministry urges residents to wear masks in public places as fears of second wave persist. 
  • 3 June: President Rouhani says restrictions will be reintroduced if illness peaks again in Iran. Government employees went back to work and mosques resumed daily prayers on 30 May as part of the relaxation of Iran's lockdown.
  • 2 June: Health minister Saeed Namaki says people becoming "completely careless" is causing case numbers to grow in Iran again, adding: "They either have total confidence in us or think the coronavirus has gone. The latter is not true at all."
  • 1 June: Namaki says Iran must prepare for a second wave of the illness if people do not follow social distancing and other precautionary measures.
  • 10 May: Abadan county placed under lockdown after case numbers sharply rise as people flout social distancing rules.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 June: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iranian economy will worsen if Covid-19 spreads unchecked, and warns public against negligence to curb the spread.
  • 6 June: Iranian universities reopen after being closed for more than three and a half months. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when religious and languages classes will also resume.
  • 30 May: Government employees resume work and shopping malls permitted to stay open past 6pm. Mosques to reopen for daily prayers.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 74,035
  • Recoveries: 20,103
  • Deaths: 3,280

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 3 June: Parliament warns against crowding in food markets. 
  • 1 June: Prisons sterilised and prisoners provided polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to curb Covid-19.
  • 31 May: Government to provide 30 million fabric face masks each month, Egypt Today reports.
  • 20 May: New cleaning campaigns launched in North Sinai cities.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 1 July: Egypt starts to reopen as airport resumes activity and other public transport is allowed to resume. 
  • 25 June: Local manufacturer Eva Pharma starts producing antiviral Remdesivir as potential Covid-19 treatment drug. The European Medicines Agency has received a recommendation from its human medicines committee urging conditional approval of Remdesivir to treat adults and adolescents, who are also suffering from pneumonia. Eva Pharma is also producing one million tablets of Japan’s Favipiravir drug, said to accelerate recovery and sold under the brand name Avigan, and is set to make them available within July.
  • 25 June: Private beaches allowed to reopen with precautions. Restaurants, sporting clubs and places of worship will reopen from 27 June, Egypt Today reports.
  • 23 June: Restaurants, cafés, cinemas, theaters and entertainment venues to resume work at 25 per cent capacity. Stores to close at 9pm and restaurants and cafés to close at 10pm. Public parks and beaches will be closed, and public transport will operate between 4am and midnight. Places of worship will be open for daily prayers but main prayers like Friday prayers and masses will be banned. Toilets and ceremonial halls at worship places will be closed. Partial curfew also cancelled as PM Moustafa Madbouly calls for countrymen to learn to co-exist with Covid-19.
  • 20 June: 1.6 million Egyptian informal workers to receive second batch of presidential grant worth £E500 each.
  • 16 June: World Bank lends $400m to boost Egypt's healthcare infrastructure.
  • 15 June: Egypt provides guidelines to reopen hotels and resorts for foreign visitors at 50 per cent capacity from 1 July. Cairo to receive E£275.4m ($17m) in financial support from French Development Agency.
  • 11 June: Some foreign tourists to be allowed back into coastal areas such as southern Sinai, Dahab, Noweiba, Taba, Hurghada, El-Gouna and Marsa Alam from 1 July. Restrictions are also being eased in terms of the curfew, which has been reduced by an hour to run from 8pm–4am, and business hours, with shops allowed to be open for an extra hour until 6pm. The government is also considering opening places of worship in areas with the fewest Covid-19 cases next month.
  • 5 June: Twelve Alexandria hotels reopen for domestic tourists. IMF agrees $5.2bn in aid for Egypt.
  • 1 June: Cairo to discuss resumption of flights and establishment of maximum price limit for Covid-19 treatment, Egypt Today reports citing cabinet spokesman Nader Saad.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 58,354
  • Recoveries: 31,077
  • Deaths: 2,368

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 27 June: Growing case numbers lead to reimposition of curfew in areas including Basra province and Maysan in southern Iraq.
  • 22 June: Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi says country is nearing the peak of infections, adding ministry plans to develop temporary hospitals with a capacity of 400 beds in various provinces as soon as possible.
  • 9 June: Young Iraqis are "in denial" about the health impact of Covid-19 and are dying due to their lack of awareness, health ministry spokesperson Saif Badr reportedly said, adding that the country is still "in the coronavirus danger zone".
  • 7 June: Curfew extended for another week as daily case numbers exceed 1,000 for the first time.
  • 1 June: World Health Organisation says extension of lockdown is necessary in Iraq.
  • 30 May: Government imposes full curfew in Baghdad and Iraqi provinces for a week starting from 31 May.
  • 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–5am daily and full lockdown planned for Eid al-Fitr.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 June: Iraqi medical students called on to volunteer at hospitals amid surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths. 
  • 26 June: UAE send six tonnes of medical supplies to Iraqi Kurdistan to curb Covid-19. 
  • 20 June: Baghdad International airport readies to reopen and is awaiting approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Covid-19 crisis cell committee to restart airport operations.
  • 3 June: Legislature hears first draft of law allowing Finance Minister Ali Allawi to borrow “from international financial institutions and foreign banks to finance public expenditures”.
  • 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 US sanctions.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,150
  • Recoveries: 902
  • Deaths: 10

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 29 June: Health minister says local transmission of the virus is reducing but warns of second wave if precautionary measures are not adhered to.  
  • 28 June: Repatriation operations for Jordanians overseas have been suspended until due to changes in quarantine and medical examination procedures, and the recent increase in the number of coronavirus cases. Pre-scheduled flights will not be affected by the decision.
  • 14 June: Facilities where employees and visitors are not wearing masks, or those that do not comply with precautionary measures, will be penalised under Defence Order No 11. 
  • 8 June: Government says its comprehensive curfew may be imposed every weekend if more than 10 local cases are recorded in seven days, Roya News reports.
  • 3 June: Comprehensive curfew announced for 5 June, with worshippers allowed to walk to mosques for Friday prayers.
  • 2 June: Reopening date yet to be set for airports in Jordan, chairman of commissioners' board at Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission, Haitham Mesto, tells Roya News. Airports will reopen gradually after it has been ascertained that it is safe to do so.
  • 20 May: Full curfew announced from Thursday midnight to Sunday midnight. Lockdown restrictions also eased, allowing citizens to travel in their vehicles until 11pm on 20 and 21 May, with odd and even licence plate numbers to move on different days.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 June: Amusement parks and play centres in tourist resorts, and special education centres, allowed to reopen from 28 June, provided precautionary measures are adhered to.
  • 21 June: Education ministry considers resuming the next academic year two weeks earlier than planned to make up for lost time. 
  • 17 June: Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission grants resumption permits to Queen Alia International and King Hussein International airports, with local airlines permitted to operate domestic flights as well. Advisory Board for Economic Policies meets Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to identify and support sectors most impacted by Covid-19.
  • 15 June: Prime Minister Razzaz issues Defence Order No 13, which allows the liquidation of financial guarantees worth JD30m ($42m) for travel and tourism agencies. Defence Order No 14 is also issued with programmes that protect workers in the tourism sector and a ban on laying off employees in the sector. 
  • 9 June: Petra Development & Tourism Regional Authority announces plans to exempt Jordanians from entry fees to the ancient city until the end of 2020 to encourage domestic tourism. 
  • 6 June: Mosques reopened for the first time since March. Ministry of Tourism allows restaurants and cafes to offer shisha, provided that people sit on outdoor terraces. Nurseries, restaurants, cafes, churches, sports clubs, hotels and hospitality areas, tourist sites and domestic aviation are also allowed to resume operations.
  • 31 May: Employers affected by the shutdown allowed to cut May and June payroll by 30 per cent as long as employees are in agreement and the reduction does not push the employee wage beyond the statuary minimum pay. Reductions must start with the senior management team. 
  • 30 May: Mosques and religious sites to reopen gradually this week after public sector employees returned to work last week.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,855
  • Recoveries: 1,304
  • Deaths: 35

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 1 July: Cabinet extends Covid-19 measures until mid-August to curb Covid-19 cases.
  • 4 June: Government has extended its "general mobilisation against coronavirus" measures for another four weeks, Arab News reports. The extension is based on recommendations from Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council.
  • 31 May: Full lockdown imposed in the village of Majdal Anjar in Bekaa, east Lebanon, for five days.
  • 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 24 June: Reopened Rafik Hariri International airport to reduce number of flights from countries where the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are not available to passengers to 20 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Arab News reports. Flights from countries that have the test will be at 80 per cent of previous levels. Those arriving from countries with PCR tests must produce the results, which must be less than four days old, during check-in. All passengers must be tested at Beirut airport.
  • 21 June: US State Department to contribute $20m to support 1,800 students at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. 
  • 9 June: Beirut's Rafik Hariri International airport to reopen in July and public sector employees permitted by Lebanese cabinet to return to work after taking precautionary measures.
  • 1 June: Lebanon may resume flights on 21 June if two-week decline in cases is observed.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 13,822
  • Recoveries: 9,329
  • Deaths: 232

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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 23 June: Flag carrier RAM to resume domestic flights on 25 June.
  • 21 June: Cafes, restaurants, sports clubs and services and entertainment businesses are allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity from 24 June in all provinces except Tangier, Larache, Marrakech and Kenitra. Domestic flights and rail lines to resume but international travel remains closed. 
  • 17 June: World Bank loans $48m to help Moroccan economy as it emerges from Covid-19 restrictions. 
  • 9 June: Lockdown measures to be eased but state of emergency to be fully lifted only on 10 July. 
  • 5 June: Arab Monetary Fund extends new $211m loan to support economic reform programmes in Morocco.
  • 3 June: Post-lockdown measures to be discussed during monthly parliamentary meeting on 11 June, North Africa Post reports.
  • 1 June: Commerce ministry issues safety guidelines as businesses plan to reopen after lockdown ends on 10 June.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 989
  • Recoveries: 258
  • Deaths: 27

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 9 June: The Chinese Embassy to Libya has sent a shipment of medical aid to help fight the pandemic.
  • 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 earmarks LD500m ($357.6m) for anti-coronavirus measures.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,186
  • Recoveries: 1,046
  • Deaths: 50

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 29 May: Tunisian President Kais Saied announces extension to the state of emergency in the country by six months starting from 30 May.
  • 19 April: Lockdown extended till 4 May.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 June: Tunisia reopens land, sea and air borders for the first time in more than three months. Some operations restart at Tunis-Carthage airport, with flights to Rome, Geneva and Paris also scheduled to depart.
  • 23 June: Garment industry body Fédération tunisienne du textile et de l'habillement said to plan post-pandemic recovery plan. France to loan Tunisia $396m to deal with crisis caused by Covid-19.
  • 17 June: Investment minister Selim Azzabi reportedly says Tunisian economy could shrink by up to 7 per cent in 2020 due to Covid-19.
  • 16 June: World Bank approves disbursement of $175m to support anti-coronavirus efforts as part of the Emergency Development Policy Operation.
  • 15 June: Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh reportedly says the country has contained Covid-19, adding sea, land and air borders will open from 27 June for tourists, who must abide by mandatory quarantine in hotels. 
  • 8 June: President Kais Saied orders the lifting of the country-wide curfew imposed since mid-March to curb Covid-19. 
  • 4 June: Mosques, cafes and the national football team's training camp reopened. Arab Monetary Fund extends $98m loan to support economic reforms.
  • 3 June: Work to resume at 100 per cent capacity in public administration offices from 4 June, and mosques, places of worship, hotels and restaurants to reopen as well. Party halls to reopen with enclosed halls to operate at 50 per cent capacity and open areas at full capacity with adequate hygiene measures.
  • 3 June: Arab Monetary Fund grants $59m loan facility to Tunisia. A second loan is also being considered to support reforms in the financial and banking sector. 
  • 1 June: Land, sea and air borders to reopen on 27 June as Tunisia seeks to prop up economy through tourism revenues.
  • 21 May: Mosques, restaurants and cafes to reopen from 4 June, with universities suspended until at least 8 June, Andalou Agency reports.
  • 20 May: EU council approves $657.3m loan for Tunisia.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 15,500
  • Recoveries: 11,181
  • Deaths: 946

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 28 June: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune says Algeria to keep the land, air and sea borders closed until the end of the Covid-19 crisis. He added during the cabinet meeting that firmer measures would be taken against citizens that do not respect preventive measures.
  • 28 May: Lockdown extended from 30 May to 13 June to curb 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 22 June: Flag carrier Air Algerie starts revalidation of 600,000 tickets for domestic and international flights cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. 
  • 14 June: Further relaxation of restrictions planned. Government to lift curfew in 19 provinces and shorten it in the remaining 29, including in the capital Algiers, where it will run from 8pm–5am instead of 7pm–7am. Buses and taxis to resume with limitations on passenger numbers, and paid leave provided to 50 per cent of government employees to end.
  • 4 June: Some economic activities to be resumed and businesses to reopen from 7 June. Construction and public sector activities to resume and home appliances, vegetable and fruit markets, pasty shops and men's barber shops to reopen. Second phase of reopening plan to be rolled out from 14 June.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,248
  • Recoveries: 537
  • Deaths: 337

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–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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 2 June: International donors pledge $1.35bn in aid for Yemen. Saudi Arabia's contribution totals $500m, with the UK offering $200m and Germany contributing $140m.
  • 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 UAE newspaper the National. “We also need medical equipment such as a complete biological units, 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.”
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 338
  • Recoveries: 123
  • Deaths: 10

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:

  • 24 June: Syrian health ministry receives new batch of medical aid from China, including testing kits, protective suits, face masks, goggles and infrared thermometers.
  • 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.
As of 10.30 GST, 5 July 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during May 2020.

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