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  1. #1
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    Coronavirus in Iran, Gulf states and Middle East

    Saudi Arabia on Thursday halted travel to the holiest sites in Islam over coronavirus fears just months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, as the Middle East recorded more than 220 confirmed cases.

    The extraordinary decision by Saudi Arabia prevents foreigners from reaching the holy city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure the world's 1.8 billion Muslims pray towards five times a day. It also said travel was suspended to Prophet Muhammad's mosque in Medina

    The decision indicated the level of concern about the outbreak potentially spreading into Saudi Arabia, whose oil-rich monarchy stakes its legitimacy on protecting Islam's holy sites.

    The epicentre in the Middle East's most-affected country, Iran, appears to be in the holy Shia city of Qom, where a shrine there sees the faithful reach out to kiss and touch it in reverence

    "Saudi Arabia renews its support for all international measures to limit the spread of this virus and urges its citizens to exercise caution before travelling to countries experiencing coronavirus outbreaks," the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement announcing the decision.

    "We ask God Almighty to spare all humanity from all harm."

    Indonesia's foreign minister on Thursday urged Saudi Arabia to allow its citizens to continue their Umrah pilgrimage. Indonesia is the world's biggest Muslim-majority country and it often sends about one million people on the pilgrimage every year to the kingdom.

    "The immediacy of this will impact our citizens because at the time of the announcement, there are Indonesian citizens or maybe citizens of other countries who have flown there," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters.

    Previous epidemics
    Disease outbreaks have always been a concern surrounding the Hajj, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, especially as pilgrims come from all over the world.

    The earliest recorded outbreak came in 632 as pilgrims fought off malaria. A cholera outbreak in 1821 killed an estimated 20,000 pilgrims. Another cholera outbreak in 1865 killed 15,000 pilgrims and then spread worldwide.

    More recently, Saudi Arabia faced danger from a related coronavirus that caused Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.

    The kingdom increased its public health measures in 2012 and 2013, though no outbreak occurred.

    While millions attend the 10-day Hajj, set for late July into early August in 2020, millions more visit during the rest of the year to the holy sites in the kingdom for Umrah.

    "It is unprecedented, at least in recent times, but given the worldwide spread of the virus and the global nature of the Umrah, it makes sense from a public health and safety point of view," said Kristian Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

    "Especially since the Iranian example illustrates how a religious crossroads can so quickly amplify the spread and reach of the virus."

    Tens of thousands infected
    The virus that causes the illness named COVID-19 has infected more than 80,000 people globally, mainly in China.

    The hardest-hit nation in the Middle East is Iran, where health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 19 people have died among 139 confirmed cases.

    For example, Iran still has not confirmed any cases in Mashhad, although several cases reported in Kuwait are linked to the Iranian city.

    In Bahrain, which confirmed 33 cases as of Thursday, authorities halted all flights to Iraq and Lebanon.

    It separately extended a 48-hour ban on flights from Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, through which infected travellers reached the island kingdom off the coast of Saudi Arabia.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there were no immediate plans to quarantine cities but acknowledged it may take "one, two or three weeks" to get control of the virus.

    As Iran's 80 million people find themselves increasingly isolated in the region by the outbreak, the country's sanctions-battered economy saw its currency slump to its lowest level against the US dollar in a year on Wednesday.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...054424029.html

  2. #2
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    I wonder who created the virus in the first place.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by troodon View Post
    I wonder who created the virus in the first place.
    It apparently came from a Chinese food market (possibly from an animal).



  4. #4
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    My Mamu was in Medina for a ziarat and wanted to go to Makkah, he was on the highway when the authorities said you can’t go to Makkah to perform Umrah.

    Glad he was with a Pakistani taxi driver who had a Saudi passport, otherwise he could’ve not entered Medina again.

    A shame though he couldn’t perform his second Umrah...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mueez View Post
    My Mamu was in Medina for a ziarat and wanted to go to Makkah, he was on the highway when the authorities said you can’t go to Makkah to perform Umrah.

    Glad he was with a Pakistani taxi driver who had a Saudi passport, otherwise he could’ve not entered Medina again.

    A shame though he couldn’t perform his second Umrah...
    InshahAllah he will have another chance

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by troodon View Post
    I wonder who created the virus in the first place.
    some say bats some say scientist working secretly with the US government. You take your pick

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by imrankhannsu View Post
    InshahAllah he will have another chance
    InshaAllah thanks brother.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mueez View Post
    InshaAllah thanks brother.
    Please request him to make dua for us all.

    When I went for Umrah 3/4 years back I was surprised that there were many Afghanistani shop keepers who had Saudi passports. I wonder if they get the same benefits as Saudis.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by imrankhannsu View Post
    Please request him to make dua for us all.

    When I went for Umrah 3/4 years back I was surprised that there were many Afghanistani shop keepers who had Saudi passports. I wonder if they get the same benefits as Saudis.
    InshAllah bro, will convey the message.

    I believe they do have same benefits as their things are their own and not “leased” from a Saudi.

    As they are not under a “kafeel”, if I’m not wrong.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sweep_shot View Post
    It apparently came from a Chinese food market (possibly from an animal).
    That's right, it comes from bat's, they are a delicosy in china


    TGK 237.1 owner

  11. #11
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    Good decision. Those places could be hotspot for the virus given how congested they are.

  12. #12
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    Anyone returning from mecca or medina needs to stay home for at least 14 days and report to a doctor if any symptoms appear.

  13. #13
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    RIYADH — Saudi Arabia suspended on Friday all domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains for 14 days starting from Saturday Mar.21, in a drive against the spread of the coronavirus, Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday quoting an official source in the Ministry of Interior.

    "Only flights related to humanitarian cases, medical evacuation aircraft and private aviation would be provided the necessary permits issued by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA)," the source said.

    According to the report, buses belonging to government agencies or public or private health facilities, and commercial establishments transporting their employees, or those that are used for health, humanitarian or security purposes are exempted from the ban.

    http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/591065


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  14. #14
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    DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia reported a jump of almost a quarter in coronavirus cases on Sunday while the United Arab Emirates pumped more money into its economy as its state-owned carrier Emirates said it would halt almost all passenger flights.

    Saudi Arabia recorded 119 new cases of the virus for a total of 511, the highest in the Gulf Arab region, the Health Ministry said.

    The tally of cases in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council now stands at more than 1,700. Bahrain reported a second death on Sunday, a citizen evacuated from Iran, taking the GCC’s total to four.

    Abdelali said 72 of the new cases were Turkish nationals under quarantine in the holy city of Mecca after interacting with an infected compatriot.

    “We are starting to see more cases linked to interactions ... We advise everyone to stay home,” he told a news conference, adding that more than 4,000 people were under quarantine.

    The region has expanded measures to combat the spread of the disease. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken some of the most drastic steps including halting international flights, suspending work at most institutions and closing public venues.

    Gulf governments have announced stimulus packages to shield their energy-producing economies, which have also been hit by a collapse in oil prices.

    The emir of Kuwait, which has imposed a partial nationwide curfew, said the government must to spare no expense or effort to fight the virus.

    “This is a decisive battle against a fierce enemy. It is everyone’s battle,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in a rare televised speech, warning against public gatherings.

    The UAE, the region’s tourism and business hub, approved an additional 16 billion dirhams ($4.36 billion) on Sunday for a total stimulus package of 126 billion dirhams, according to a tweet from its vice president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

    The vital tourism and hospitality sector in Dubai, the region’s most diversified economy, has been hit hard by the disruption to global travel.

    Emirates, one of the world’s biggest airlines, said it would suspend passenger operations — with the exception of repatriation flights to some 13 countries — by Wednesday. Cargo operations continue.

    “We find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries reopen their borders,” Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said.

    The Dubai World Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races, has been canceled.

    Other Gulf states expanded precautionary measures.

    Oman banned public gatherings and shut currency exchange shops. Bahrain ordered all stores except those supplying essential goods to shut. In Kuwait, some supermarkets were allowing only 50 shoppers at a time.

    Qatar, whose 481 reported coronavirus cases are mostly among migrant workers, began erecting checkpoints to enforce a ban on public gatherings.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN2190V3


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  15. #15
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    RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will impose a nationwide curfew starting on Monday after reporting a jump of almost a quarter in coronavirus cases, while the United Arab Emirates will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country.

    Saudi King Salman ordered a curfew - from 7 pm to 6 am for 21 days - to slow the spread of the coronavirus, state news agency SPA reported on Monday. The curfew will take effect on Monday evening.

    The UAE said it will suspend all passenger and transit flights to and from the country for two weeks over coronavirus fears, state news agency WAM said on Monday. Cargo operations will continue.

    The UAE’s ministry of health has decided to close shopping and commercial centres, leaving open pharmacies and supermarkets, along with fish, vegetables and meat markets dealing with wholesalers, WAM reported. It will limit restaurants to delivery services.

    WAM said the closures will take effect in 48 hours and will last for two weeks, subject to review and evaluation.

    The UAE has urged the public to stay at home except in cases of necessity, including getting supplies, such as food and medicine, or performing “essential jobs”, WAM said.

    On Sunday, Saudi Arabia recorded 119 new cases of the virus for a total of 511, highest in the Gulf Arab region, the Health Ministry said.

    The tally of cases in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council now stands at more than 1,700. Bahrain reported a second death on Sunday, a citizen evacuated from Iran, taking the GCC’s total deaths to four.

    The region has expanded measures to combat the spread of the disease. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken some of the most drastic steps including halting international flights, suspending work at most institutions and closing public venues.

    Gulf governments have also announced stimulus packages to shield their energy-producing economies, which have been hit by a collapse in oil prices. [O/R]

    The UAE, the region’s tourism and business hub, approved an additional 16 billion dirhams ($4.4 billion) on Sunday for a total stimulus package of 126 billion dirhams, according to a tweet from its vice president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.

    The tourism and hospitality sector in Dubai, the region’s most diversified economy, has been hit hard by the disruption to global travel.

    Emirates, based out of Dubai and one of the world’s biggest airlines, said on Sunday it would suspend passenger operations - with the exception of repatriation flights to 13 countries - by Wednesday.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21917Z


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  16. #16
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    Qatar announces $150 million aid to Gaza to support U.N. programs, efforts to contain coronavirus

    Qatar announced $150 million in aid to the Gaza Strip over a period of six months, to support United Nations humanitarian programs in the Palestinian territory and efforts to contain the new coronavirus outbreak, the state-run Qatari Committee to Rebuild Gaza said Monday on Twitter.


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  17. #17
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    Countries in the Middle East continue to wrestle with the virus, and many are further escalating their responses.
    Here are the main headlines from the region.

    Saudi Arabia, which has the most cases in the Gulf outside of Iran, will introduce a three-week curfew from 19:00 to 06:00, starting Monday night

    Syria has confirmed its first case - a 20-year-old woman whom the health ministry says came into the country from abroad

    The world's busiest airport, Dubai International, will effectively shut down from 25 March when the UAE suspends all passenger and transit flights

    The Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, confirms its first two cases of Covid-19 in two men who had returned from Pakistan via Egypt. It comes amid dire warnings of an outbreak in one of the world's most densely populated areas where the health system is in peril

    Iraq imposes a total lockdown until Saturday as the number of cases and the death toll there grow

    Iran's president dismisses as "one of the biggest lies in history" a US offer to help it fight the virus, and urges Washington to lift sanctions instead


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  18. #18
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    Reports say that Saudi will fine people 3m SAR (about 670K GBP) if they are found sharing videos of curfew violations!


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  19. #19
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    RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinians reported their first death from the coronavirus on Wednesday, a woman in her 60s who lived in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    “The woman had experienced symptoms and was later hospitalised” before succumbing to the illness, said Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the West Bank.

    The woman was from Bidu, a Palestinian village north of Jerusalem and southwest of Ramallah, Melhem added.

    There are 62 confirmed coronavirus cases among Palestinians in the West Bank, and two in the Gaza Strip.


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  20. #20
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    The first Palestinian has died as a result of Covid-19. The woman, who was in her 60s, was a resident of Bidu, near Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority said.

    Sixty-two confirmed cases have been reported in the occupied West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip.
    In other developments in the region:

    In Israel, where five people have died and another 2,030 have been infected, the government has approved new restrictions to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. People will be required to stay within 100m (330ft) of their homes; prayer will only be allowed in open spaces; and public transport will be reduced to a quarter of its usual capacity

    The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem - where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected - was closed on Wednesday as a precaution against the coronavirus

    Testing has started in opposition-held north-western Syria after the World Health Organization delivered 300 kits. The government has meanwhile imposed a 12-hour overnight curfew in areas under its control and closed all borders, a day after it confirmed the first Covid-19 case in the war-torn country

    Saudi Arabia has reported its second death and tightened a 21-day nationwide curfew that started on Monday. People will now be stopped from entering or leaving the capital Riyadh and the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina


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  21. #21
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    Saudi seals off three cities after second virus death

    Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed off the capital Riyadh and two of Islam's holiest cities and extended curfew hours as it reported its second death from the new coronavirus, AFP reports.

    The kingdom barred entry and exit from Riyadh as well as Mecca and Medina and prohibited movement between all provinces, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, as the health ministry said the total number of infections spiked to 900.

    Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, on Monday began implementing an 11-hour nationwide curfew — starting at 7 pm — to limit the spread of the deadly Covid-19 illness.

    The curfew hours were brought forward to 3pm in the three cities, SPA said, citing measures approved by King Salman that will take effect from Thursday.


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  22. #22
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    The regional business hub, which has confirmed 333 cases of the virus with two deaths, has not announced an official curfew or work suspension but has increasingly clamped down on movement.

    Authorities announced late on Wednesday that the UAE will restrict movement of traffic and people from 8 p.m. (1600 GMT) Thursday to 6 a.m. Sunday as it disinfects public transport and public facilities.

    The restrictions will be limited to those dates, a security forces spokesman clarified in a press conference on Thursday, adding that only essential service workers would be allowed out. Violators will face fines.

    Public transport including trams and metro services will be suspended, while private cars, cabs and delivery vehicles can operate outside those hours.

    The UAE has slowly followed other Gulf states in suspending passenger flights and closing public venues such as restaurants and malls. Dubai emirate on Wednesday directed the private sector to implement remote working for most staff but exempted a broad spectrum of businesses.

    Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken the most drastic steps, including imposing partial nationwide curfews and suspending work at most public and private sector establishments.

    BAHRAINIS EVACUATED

    The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council has recorded nearly 2,500 coronavirus cases, with eight deaths. Saudi Arabia has the highest tally of infections at 900.

    Bahrain continued to evacuate several hundred Bahraini pilgrims stranded in Iran, which is an epicenter for the disease in the region.

    A second repatriation flight of around 60 Bahrainis arrived overnight from the holy Shi’ite Iranian city of Mashhad, operated by Iranian airline Kish, families and a Bahraini official told Reuters.

    Bahrain earlier this month repatriated 165 people, but a number of subsequent scheduled flights were canceled. At least 85 of the first batch of evacuees tested positive for the virus.

    The island state, which has reported 419 coronavirus cases and 4 deaths, most of them linked to travel to Iran, has longstanding differences with Iran and has criticized the Islamic Republic for not stamping Bahraini citizens’ passports.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21D1DU


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  23. #23
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    Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah movement said it was mobilising some 25,000 doctors, nurses and activists and readying hospitals to help combat the outbreak. Lebanon has reported six deaths and 333 cases

    Yemen’s warring parties welcomed a UN appeal for an immediate truce to prepare to fight the pandemic. Yemen has not reported any cases of Covid-19 but it is already experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

    Iran, where 2,234 people have died and 29,406 have been infected, announced new restrictions, banning travel between cities and extending the closure of schools and universities amid fears of a “second wave” of infections


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  24. #24
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    The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reported a new cluster of coronavirus cases in a village in the occupied West Bank, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Palestinian territories to 84.

    On Wednesday night, officials announced the first Palestinian death linked to Covid-19 - a woman in her 60s. She lived in the West Bank village of Biddu, where a further 15 coronavirus cases have now been revealed.

    Officials said her son had recently tested positive for the virus, linking it to his recent return from working in Israel, where there have been more than 2,600 confirmed cases and eight deaths.

    The PA has called for Palestinian workers in Israel to come back to the West Bank - but it’s creating unease.

    After another man returned showing symptoms, the Palestinian governor of the area said any worker who came back without self-isolating would be "arrested and dealt with as if he was a criminal charged with premeditated murder".

    Before the outbreak, about 150,000 Palestinians crossed checkpoints every day from the West Bank to work in Israel - many as labourers or cleaners. As part of measures to prevent further spread of the virus, 30,000 workers have been permitted to remain in Israel only if they stay for at least two months, usually in accommodation meant to be provided by an employer


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  25. #25
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    Curfews extended in Middle East

    Here's the latest from the region on how countries there are tackling the virus:

    Iraq has extended a nationwide curfew, due in force until Saturday, by a further two weeks. The air force is being used to drop public information flyers

    Lebanon has also extended its "lockdown" - under which people are only allowed out to buy food and medicine - by two weeks, and ordered citizens to stay indoors entirely overnight

    A day after imposing an inter-city travel ban, police in Iran will stop cars with non-local number plates, fine owners and confiscate vehicles in order to enforce the measure. The country has so far confirmed more than 2,200 deaths and reported another surge in infections over the past 24 hours

    Oman, Jordan and the UAE have suspended print editions of newspapers over fears that copies could carry the virus

    Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has obtained 400,000 "essential components" for testing for the virus, the prime minister's office says. It is unclear where the material - identified in Israeli press as chemical reagents - has come from. Mossad has already brought in 100,000 kits


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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Curfews extended in Middle East

    Here's the latest from the region on how countries there are tackling the virus:

    Iraq has extended a nationwide curfew, due in force until Saturday, by a further two weeks. The air force is being used to drop public information flyers

    Lebanon has also extended its "lockdown" - under which people are only allowed out to buy food and medicine - by two weeks, and ordered citizens to stay indoors entirely overnight

    A day after imposing an inter-city travel ban, police in Iran will stop cars with non-local number plates, fine owners and confiscate vehicles in order to enforce the measure. The country has so far confirmed more than 2,200 deaths and reported another surge in infections over the past 24 hours

    Oman, Jordan and the UAE have suspended print editions of newspapers over fears that copies could carry the virus

    Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has obtained 400,000 "essential components" for testing for the virus, the prime minister's office says. It is unclear where the material - identified in Israeli press as chemical reagents - has come from. Mossad has already brought in 100,000 kits
    I don't how mossad works why would they be doing stuff that government should be doing aren't they the secret service but that shows something in common between Israel and Pak they have secret services who get involved in things they shouldn't be involved in

  27. #27
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    Syria bans most domestic travel in coronavirus lockdown

    Syria said on Friday it was banning travel between cities and governorates as part of tightening measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, state-run Ikhbariya TV reported, citing the interior minister.

    Syria has recorded five cases of corona virus so far but relief agencies worry that any outbreak could be lethal after years of conflict that has ravaged its healthcare system.

    The travel restriction, effective from Sunday, comes on top of a curfew announced this week from 6 pm to 6 am and after the country has halted flights and ordered the closure of most businesses.

    Humanitarian agencies have expressed deep concern over the prospect of coronavirus spreading in Syria’s northwest, where hundreds of thousands of people displaced by war live in tightly packed camps and have severely limited access to healthcare.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKBN21E3DU

  28. #28
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    Bahrain doing a great job so far

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  29. #29
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    Saudi tightens coronavirus curfew; travellers stranded in UAE

    Saudi Arabia reported its second coronavirus death and tightened a nationwide curfew, barring entry to and exit from the capital Riyadh and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as movement between all provinces from on Wednesday.

    The orders, approved by King Salman and published by state media, also brought forward the start of curfew in the three cities to 3pm from 7pm starting on Thursday.

    Saudi Arabia introduced the 21-day curfew on Monday after registering a jump in infections. Its second death was that of a 46-year-old foreign resident in Mecca among 133 new cases taking the total to 900.

    Across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the tally rose to 2,472 with seven deaths, as the United Arab Emirates registered 85 new infections, Oman 15, and Kuwait four.

    In the UAE, the region's tourism, business and transit hub, hundreds of Europeans were stranded after airports halted passenger flights earlier than expected.

    Oil engineer Jamie Richardson had been due to return to the United Kingdom on Wednesday for a new job, but late on Tuesday, Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports announced flights would stop that night.

    "It's proper stressful. You have no idea what is going on," he said.

    Saudi Arabia has taken rigorous steps to contain the outbreak, also including halting international flights as well as suspending the Umrah year-round pilgrimage and closing mosques, schools, malls and restaurants.

    The curfew and other restrictions have altered the rhythm of daily life in the country of some 30 million, many of whom enjoy late-night gatherings at coffee shops or private homes.

    Turkish resident Nasif Erisik, who plays cards most nights with friends at one of their homes, said the group has resorted to online gaming to keep in touch.

    "Corona has ... changed our habits and everything in our lives," said Erisik.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...180702558.html

  30. #30
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    Dubai: People who fail to comply with home quarantine instructions in the UAE will be subject to a fine up to Dh50,000 as per a new resolution.

    The UAE Attorney General issued a resolution following the cabinet decision on Thursday on the list of sanctions for the precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.

    In accordance with the new resolution, people who leave their homes for unnecessary reasons (i.e. except for work or buying necessities) will be slapped with a Dh2,000 fine.

    Not wearing medical masks in enclosed spaces or failing to keep a safe distance will attract Dh1,000 fine.

    Additionally, motorists who exceed the maximum limit of passengers in their cars (more than three) will be fined Dh1,000.

    The move comes as part of preventive and precautionary measures taken by the UAE to curb the spread of the COVID-19 and ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors. Violators of these precautions will face a fine ranging from Dh500 to Dh50,000.

    The fines will be doubled for those found to be repeating the violation. Offenders will thereafter be referred to the Emergency and Crisis Prosecution Department at the Federal Public Prosecution if the violation is committed for the third time.

    The law will be effective as of March 26, 2020.

    List of violations and fines

    Dh50,000 fine for patients who refuse the compulsory hospitalization or continue to ingest prescribed medications despite being notified.

    Dh50,000 fine for non-compliers with home quarantine instructions.

    Dh50,000 and administrative closure for entities:

    Violating the closure instructions of educational facilities, cinemas, gyms, clubs, malls, outdoor markets, parks, cafés, shopping centers and restaurants or for receiving customers.

    Opening public parks, beaches, sports training centers, swimming pools and hotel pools without taking precautionary measures set by competent authorities -Failing to temporarily suspend cruise tours.

    A fine of Dh500 will also be issued for visitors.

    A Dh10,000 fine will be issued for whoever invites or organizes gatherings, meetings, private and public celebrations. Participants will also be fined Dh5,000.

    Dh2,000 fine for violating precautionary measures issued by the Ministry of Health and Prevention by passengers coming to the UAE from countries affected by communicable diseases.

    Dh3,000 fine for:

    Failing to take proper health measures regarding regulation of markets, roads, and other public places exempted from temporally closure.

    Refusing to dispose any temporally structure, clothes, luggage or others proved to be contaminated or might be contaminated by any pathogen if they can’t be disinfected by established methods.

    Dh10,000 fine for failing to take a precautionary measures by the crew of ships.

    Dh2,000 fine for people leaving their homes for unnecessary reasons.

    Dh3,000 fine for violating the provisions of Communicable Diseases law when burying or transporting a dead body infected with communicable disease.

    Dh1,000 fine for motorists who exceed the limit of passengers in their cars [more than three].

    Dh1,000 fine for not wearing medical masks indoors or failing to keep a safe distance.

    Dh5,000 fine for not following sterilization procedures in public transportation.

    Dh1,000 fine for unnecessary visiting health facilities.

    Dh5,000 fine for refusing to conduct a medical test upon request.

    https://gulfnews.com/uae/government/....1585335521833


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  31. #31
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    RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian Airlines has agreed to operate exceptional commercial flights to allow British nationals and their families to return to the United Kingdom, according to a British embassy message sent by e-mail late on Friday.

    The airline will operate flights in the week starting March 29 from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to London’s Heathrow Airport and additional flights if required, it said.


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  32. #32
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    Iran, one of the world's worst-hit countries, is going to allocate 20% of its annual state budget to fighting the outbreak, President Hassan Rouhani has said. Over the last 24 hours 139 more people died, bringing the total to 2,517

    Palestinian groups in Gaza have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel, amid concerns about the spread of the virus in the densely populated territory

    Qatar reported its first death from coronavirus, and 28 more cases - bringing the total number of infections in the Gulf nation to 590.


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  33. #33
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    UAE using hi-tech


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  34. #34
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    A statement from Qatar's Communications Office has shed light on the conditions of Bahraini citizens, who were transiting home from Iran. The 31 Bahrainis, whose government has not yet sent a charter plane to fly them back, have all been tested for coronavirus and are staying at a quarantine hotel in Doha.

    The full statement is below:

    "On 27 March 2020, 31 Bahraini citizens arrived in Doha on a Qatar Airways flight from Iran. As Bahrain does not allow commercial flights from Qatar, the State of Qatar inquired with officials in Bahrain as to how Qatar could assist in the travelers’ efforts to return home.

    Qatar offered to fly the Bahraini citizens on a private charter flight to Bahrain at no expense to the individuals or the government of Bahrain.

    The government of Bahrain declined this option. Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future.

    As the health and safety of all individuals in Qatar, and around the world, is paramount at this time, the Ministry of Public Health has administered coronavirus tests for the 31 Bahraini citizens and provided them with accommodation in a quarantine hotel at no cost to them or the government of Bahrain.

    Those testing positive will receive free and full health care at once. Those testing negative will continue to observe self-isolation for two weeks at a quarantine hotel, at no expense to them.

    It is our hope that by the end of this two-week quarantine, that the government of Bahrain will allow their citizens to return home. If not, we will continue to provide them with hospitality and care."

  35. #35
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    Palestinian groups cancel mass Gaza rallies due to coronavirus

    Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have cancelled mass rallies planned for next week along the border with Israel amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in the densely-populated territory, organisers said on Saturday.

    The rallies were called for March 30 to mark the second anniversary of the so-called "Great March of Return" which had prompted weekly protests by Palestinians seeking to regain access to land, now in Israel, from which their ancestors were forced to flee during the Nakba, the Palestinian exodus, in 1947-48.

    They also mark Palestinian Land Day which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government's expropriation of land.

    "We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic," said Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) armed group

    Instead, al-Batsh called on Palestinians in Gaza to mark the day by raising Palestinian flags on their rooftops and burning Israeli ones.

    Traffic will also be stopped for an hour and sirens will sound across the territory to mark the occasion, the statement said, adding that a news conference would also be held for a limited number of attendees.

    According to Gaza medical officials, 215 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers firing from the other side of the border during the protests, with another 8,000 suffering gunshot wounds. In the past few months, the weekly protests have been smaller.

    One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the demonstrations.

    In 2019, UN Human Rights Council investigators said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, with children and paramedics among the casualties.

    So far, nine out of the 97 coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories have been confirmed in the Gaza Strip.

    Gaza's hospitals, which were overwhelmed during the protests by gunshot wounds and amputations, are now gearing up for the challenge of containing the coronavirus in the coastal enclave of two million Palestinians, many living in refugee camps.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...172443167.html

  36. #36
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    Iran has announced 123 more coronavirus deaths, raising the total number to 2,640. The number of infected people has reached 38,309, officials say.

    It has been one of the countries worst-hit by Covid-19.

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has shut down entry and exit into the Jeddah governorate and brought forward a curfew there to begin at 15:00 local time (12:00 GMT) rather than 19:00, the state news agency has said.

    Saudi Arabia applied the same measures to Riyadh, Mecca and Medina last week. The kingdom has the second highest rate of infections in the Gulf after Iran.


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  37. #37
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    Syria has confirmed its first death from coronavirus, according to the country's state media.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the conflict in Syria, which has killed over 380,000 people, has weakened the country's health system.

    Just 64% of hospitals and 52% of primary healthcare centres that existed before 2011 are still functioning in the country.



  38. #38
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    Syria has reported its first official death from Covid-19, amid fears the country is at grave risk if the disease spreads.

    A woman patient died in hospital, state media say, without specifying where.

    The official number of cases has grown from five to nine but reports suggest the true number in government-controlled areas could be in the hundreds.

    Syria recently imposed restrictions to try to confine the virus but the UN has warned it is at particular risk because its healthcare system has been ravaged by nine years of war.

    There have also been warnings that the flow of Shia Muslim pilgrims to holy sites in Syria, as well as the continued arrival of pro-government Shia fighters from Iraq, has increased the chances of exposure to the disease.


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  39. #39
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to go into quarantine after a close aide tested positive for coronavirus, Haaretz newspaper reports.

    His office said he would enter quarantine along with his close advisers.

    His aide on Knesset affairs tested positive for coronavirus on Monday.

    The PM's office said the step was a precaution and was being taken even before the epidemiological investigation had been concluded.


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  40. #40
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    The UN’s humanitarian chief has warned that the 10 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including one death, in war-torn Syria are just “the tip of the iceberg”.

    Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council the disease had “the potential to have a devastating impact on vulnerable communities”.
    Syria’s health services were already extremely fragile after nine years of war, with only about half of its hospitals and primary healthcare centres fully functioning.

    UN special envoy Geir Pedersen called for a “complete, immediate nationwide ceasefire” to enable an all-out-effort to counter the coronavirus.

    In other developments:

    In Iraq, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it expects a spike in the number of confirmed cases in the coming days due to an increase in lab testing capacity. The local authorities have reported more than 630 cases and 46 deaths - the second highest number of fatalities in the region after Iran

    Israel’s government has approved stricter social-distancing measures that will take effect on Wednesday. Public gatherings will be banned, although there will be exceptions for funerals in the open air and Jewish circumcision ceremonies. And only two people living in the same home will be allowed outside at one time. Israel has reported 4,831 infections and 17 deaths


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  41. #41
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    The only way to find out how many people are effected by the virus is by the number of people being tested and not just getting sick.

  42. #42
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    The government of Dubai has announced that it will inject equity into state-owned airline Emirates. The world’s largest long-haul carrier, which has 100,000 employees, has been forced to ground almost all of its flights due to restrictions on travel.

    Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum cited “its strategic importance to the Dubai and UAE economy, and the airline’s key role in positioning the emirate as a major international aviation hub”. He provided no further details.

    In other developments in the Middle East:

    In Israel, the military’s chief of staff, Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi, and two other generals are self-isolating. The military said Gen Kochavi was not displaying symptoms of Covid-19, but that he and the other two officers had attended a meeting on 22 March with a commander in the reserves who later tested positive for the disease.

    At a virtual meeting organised by Saudi Arabia, finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20 group of major economies promised to address the risk of debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries so they can focus on fighting Covid-19.



  43. #43
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    Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims planning to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to delay booking trips with tour operators amid uncertainty over the pandemic.

    Some two million people were expected to travel to Mecca and Medina this July and August for the Hajj, which all Muslims who are physically able must undertake once in a lifetime.

    The Saudi authorities have reported 1,563 cases of Covid-19 and 10 related deaths.

    In other developments in the Middle East:

    The official death toll in Iran has risen to 3,036, after the health ministry reported 138 fatalities in the past 24 hours. The number of cases has risen to 47,593.

    Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani said the US had “lost the best opportunity to lift sanctions” on Iran to help it fight the coronavirus, a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held out the possibility of a “re-think”Oman has reported its first death from Covid-19 - a 72-year-old Oman man. The sultanate has reported 210 confirmed cases

    In Israel, where 5,591 people have been infected and 21 have died, the defence ministry has said it has converted a missile production facility to make ventilators, amid a shortage of the machines. Meanwhile, the Israeli military said its chief of staff, Lt Gen Aviv Kochavi, had tested negative for the coronavirus. On Tuesday, he and two other senior commanders went into self-isolation after it emerged they had attended a meeting with an officer who later tested positive


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  44. #44
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    RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced a 24-hour curfew for the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah after the coronavirus death toll in the kingdom rose to 21 and new cases emerged in the country.

    The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.

    "Full 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina starting from today until further notice," the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an interior ministry source.

    The cities were earlier under a 15-hour daily curfew.

    Authorities have already sealed off Mecca and Medina along with Riyadh and Jeddah, barring people from entering and exiting the cities as well as prohibiting movement between all provinces.

    Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, is scrambling to limit the spread of the disease at home.

    On Thursday the health ministry said the deaths from the illness had risen to 21 while 1,885 infections were reported.

    Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round "umrah" pilgrimage over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam's holiest cities.

    Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year's hajj.

    Last year, some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world to take part in the hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.

    The Arab world's biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls, restaurants and halted flights as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.

    King Salman has warned of a "more difficult" fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the economic double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices.

    https://www.geo.tv/latest/280590-cor...makkah-madinah


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  45. #45
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  46. #46
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    Syria’s government has widened a curfew in all areas under its control. No-one will be permitted to leave their homes between 12:00 and 06:00 on Fridays and Saturdays - the national weekend.

    It has also sealed off the Shia Muslim shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in Damascus. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East.

    The government has reported 16 cases of Covid-19 and two deaths.

    In other developments in the Middle East:

    Jordan, which has reported 299 cases and five deaths, has imposed a 24-hour nationwide curfew. A minister said it would allow epidemiological investigation teams to reach and test those who had been contact with infected people.

    Iraq’s Media Commission has banned Reuters news agency from operating for three months after a report cited doctors involved in testing as saying there were thousands of confirmed Covid-19 cases, many times more than the 772 the health ministry has publicly recorded. The commission called the report “false, fabricated and unfounded”.


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  47. #47
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    The United Arab Emirates has extended a de facto overnight curfew indefinitely to disinfect public areas to fight the spread of coronavirus.

    The UAE's disinfection drive, which consists of spraying streets, parks and public transport facilities, runs from 8pm (16:00 GMT) to 6am and people must stay at home during those hours, state-run news agency WAM said.

    The curfew came in on March 26 and was extended last week until April 5.



  48. #48
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    Bahrain using electronic tags to monitor cases

    Electronic tags are being used in Bahrain to track quarantined and self-isolating coronavirus cases.

    Everyone suspected to be infected must wear the white tags, which are similar to wrist watches, and are linked to an app.

    If a patient moves more than 15m away from their smartphone, a message is sent to the authorities - and offenders could face three months in jail or a fine of up to $26,000 (£20,000).

    The country has had four deaths from the virus, and 261 confirmed cases.


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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by MenInG View Post
    Bahrain using electronic tags to monitor cases

    Electronic tags are being used in Bahrain to track quarantined and self-isolating coronavirus cases.

    Everyone suspected to be infected must wear the white tags, which are similar to wrist watches, and are linked to an app.

    If a patient moves more than 15m away from their smartphone, a message is sent to the authorities - and offenders could face three months in jail or a fine of up to $26,000 (£20,000).

    The country has had four deaths from the virus, and 261 confirmed cases.
    Is that similar to Ankle monitor used in US? if they are removable not much use..

  50. #50
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    Saudi Arabia - 24 hour lockdown/curfew in most big cities - according to sources.


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  51. #51
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    Kuwait locks down two districts, extends public holiday over coronavirus

    Kuwait placed a full lockdown on two densely-populated districts and extended a public holiday by two weeks until April 26 as precautionary measures against the coronavirus, the cabinet said on Monday.


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  52. #52
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    Domestic workers in Middle East risk abuse amid COVID-19 crisis

    Governments have a responsibility to protect foreign domestic workers.
    Governments around the world have imposed restrictions on movements of citizens to counter the threat of COVID-19 and limit its spread.

    But for millions of Asian and African migrant domestic workers in the Middle East, these important safeguards also increase the risk of serious abuse.

    I have spent over 10 years interviewing domestic workers in the region and documenting their working conditions.

    I believe that, without strong action by governments and mass media campaigns, we can expect an increase in the number of domestic workers forced to work practically around the clock.

    I have documented these abuses over the years, especially when domestic workers work for large families, family events, or during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Such overwork has driven many of them to exhaustion, illness, depression, and some to suicide.

    Now, domestic workers will most likely face additional cooking, cleaning, and caring demands with entire families at home all day and children out of school.

    Restrictions on leaving the house also mean that employers may force them to work on their legally mandated day off. They may also prohibit workers from leaving the house even if government rules allow it.

    While some migrant domestic workers have decent working conditions, many face abusive conditions largely because of abusive immigration policies and weak or non-existent labour law protections.

    Domestic workers have told me that employers forced them to work up to 21 hours a day without rest and no day off, gave them little food, underpaid, delayed or withheld their wages, restricted communication with their families, confiscated their passports, and physically or sexually abused them.

    The restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to exacerbate such conditions. Employers may demand more cleaning and disinfecting of their homes.

    Domestic workers are often not provided with protective equipment or adequate instructions and have suffered burns or injuries from harsh cleaning products. They may also be required to take care of anyone who may fall ill, including someone with COVID-19.

    With families facing job loss, delayed wages, or other economic insecurity, this may mean employers will delay or refuse to pay domestic workers. Some may reduce workers' food, while prioritising their own family members.

    Some domestic workers have told me in previous years that they were given little food or scraps from family meals, or starved as punishment. In Lebanon, which already had an economic crisis, some employers delayed or stopped paying their domestic workers altogether.

    Families' anxiety around the coronavirus and lockdown measures can lead to frayed tensions. As with the documented increase in intimate partner violence during the pandemic, the conditions are ripe for verbal, physical, and sexual abuse to increase against domestic workers trapped in abusive situations.

    Similarly, domestic workers will face even more difficulty escaping such abuse. Under the kafala (sponsorship) system, which exists across the region to varying degrees, migrant workers' visas are tied to their employers and they are not allowed to leave or change employers without their employer's permission.

    Domestic workers who escaped abusive employers ended up arrested and returned to abusive employers or imprisoned and deported for "absconding".

    New COVID-19 rules could impose additional penalties on domestic workers for fleeing abuse.

    Middle East governments have not sent messages to employers on fair treatment of domestic workers confined with their employers at home, nor have they tried to identify and support domestic workers in distress, or to ensure that domestic workers who escape abuse are not arrested as violators of any curfew or lockdown restrictions.

    Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Lebanon, and Jordan - which host some of the largest migrant domestic worker populations - should address these dangers with television and social media campaigns to educate employers on their obligations to respect domestic workers' rights including by ensuring an eight-hour working day, a weekly day off, protective equipment for cleaning or caring for sick people, and regular communication with their family and friends.

    There should be a zero-tolerance message to employers about labour abuses like unpaid wages or physical or verbal abuse, along with reminders of the penalties they can face.

    Governments should also facilitate information campaigns for domestic workers in the languages they speak through their embassies, SMS campaigns, television, and organisations that assist domestic workers.

    Such information should include information on how to protect themselves from COVID-19, their rights at work, and a hotline that workers or their families can call if they are in distress.

    Governments should intervene to protect any worker reporting abuse, ensure safe accommodation for workers in distress that is compliant with health and safety to protect them from COVID-19, and facilitate filing complaints against employers and safe repatriation should they wish to go home.

    These are unprecedented times. While governments and individuals put into effect extraordinary measures to control the deadly coronavirus, the authorities also need to ensure that this emergency does not exacerbate abuse and to actively protect vulnerable populations.

    Migrant domestic workers take care of families in the Middle East; these families and governments should take care of them too.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/op...152201409.html

  53. #53
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    A general closure is being imposed across Israel ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday. No travel will be allowed between cities between Tuesday evening and Friday morning, and in Jewish-majority areas nobody should leave their home from Wednesday afternoon - when Jewish families will have their ritual Seder meal - until Thursday morning.

    The government fears the custom of holding big Seders could spread the coronavirus, which has infected more than 9,000 Israelis and claimed 60 lives. Some rabbis have approved the use of video-conferencing apps like Zoom to connect relatives during the dinner. But Israel’s chief rabbinate has forbidden it, saying such use of technology breaks Jewish religious law. “Loneliness is painful,” it stated, but the solution was not “desecrating the festival”.

    And while other countries have seen toilet roll shortages during the pandemic, Israelis have been scrambling for eggs - a staple of many favourite Passover recipes. The state subsidised an emergency airlift and brought in millions of eggs by sea. However, long queues at supermarkets, quotas imposed by grocers and a proliferation of black-market deals suggest that for many, the egg-hunt continues.


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  54. #54
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    Saudi Arabia says it could reach 200,000 coronavirus infections

    The new coronavirus could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s health minister has said, urging the public to adhere more closely to state directives against mixing and movement.

    “We stand today at a decisive moment as a society in raising our sense of responsibility and contributing together with determination to stop the spread of this pandemic,” Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah said in a rare televised address.

    Four studies by infectious disease experts indicated the number of cases was likely to reach between 10,000 and 200,000 in coming weeks, he said. The virus has already infected more than 1.3 million people worldwide.


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  55. #55
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    Name:  Capture.JPG
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  56. #56
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    Yaakov Litzman, health minister for Israel, has tested positive for COVID-19 after just last month saying that the virus was “punishment” for homosexuality.

    According to The Times of Israel, Litzman, 71, has been accused of violating his own ministry’s guidelines on social distancing in order to continue to attend prayer services.

    As well as being Israel’s health minister, he also leads the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and witnesses said he was seen praying at the home of another member of his sect three days after indoor services were banned.

    His own department’s guidelines became stricter, barring prayer services altogether, but Litzman was later seen attending a service at a synagogue near his home.

    He and his wife Chava have now contracted COVID-19, and as a result of recent contact with him, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several other top government officials have been forced to self-isolate for 15 days.

    His office has denied all accusations that Litzman broke his own social distancing rules.

    Last month, speaking about the origins of COVID-19, the health minister said: “It’s a divine punishment against homosexuality.”

    In 2016, Yaakov Litzman voted against allowing same-sex civil unions, same-sex couples adopting, educating health professionals about gender identity and sexual orientation, prohibiting conversion therapy and giving same-sex partners of killed soldiers the same the benefits as opposite-sex couples. On the same day he said that LGBT+ people were “sinners”.

    Last week, asked if lockdown restrictions would be lifted before Easter, he said: “We pray and hope that the Messiah will arrive before Easter, the time of our redemption.

    “I am sure that the Messiah will come and take us out as God took us out of Egypt. We will soon be free and the Messiah will come and save us from all the world’s troubles.”

    The Israel health minister has now added his name to a ridiculously long list of bigots who have capitalised on the coronavirus crisis by blaming it on LGBT+ people, including an Iraqi cleric, an Israeli rabbi, several Muslim leaders of Ghana, an evangelical preacher, another evangelical preacher, yet another preacher, and Trump’s own bible studies teacher.

    https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world...12goRL?ocid=st


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  57. #57
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    Gulf states urged to unblock internet calls in response to pandemic

    Human rights groups urged Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to lift bans on free internet calls to help their large migrant workforces stay in touch during the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reported.

    “This has caused serious problems for the people living in those countries, especially the majority of migrant workers and foreign national residents who need to connect and communicate with their families and communities overseas,” the rights groups said.

    In response to the pandemic, the UAE and Oman have relaxed restrictions on some calling apps but on a temporary basis.


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  58. #58
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    The Pakistani Consul General in Dubai said on Wednesday that around 10,000 Pakistanis have been rendered jobless in the United Arab Emirates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    In total, around 35,000 Pakistanis have registered with the consulate in Dubai in a bid to return to their homeland, Consul General Ahmed Amjad Ali said.

    The official said preparations are underway to bring back the stranded Pakistanis.

    “Tourists, unemployed and the elderly will be given preference,” he said while describing the criteria for evacuation.

    Ali said screening measures have also been completed for returning tourists at the Dubai airport.

    He added that bringing Pakistanis back in such large numbers is a huge challenge.

    Meanwhile, Dubai authorities have stated that they are ready to operate flights for Pakistanis who wish to return home and are waiting for permission from Pakistani authorities in this regard.

    Dubai's Gulf News earlier reported that hundreds of Pakistanis had gathered outside the consulate on Sunday register to return home despite the emirate-wide lockdown.

    It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan is a big labour supplier to the UAE, with more than a million Pakistanis living and working in the country, according to Pakistani diplomats.

    Since March, Dubai has been under lockdown as the UAE has ramped up measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

    In March, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Division Moeed W. Yusuf had assured the nation that the government was in touch with the authorities of those countries where Pakistani passengers are stuck in transit.

    https://www.geo.tv/latest/281656-cor...ome-from-dubai


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  59. #59
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    The Qatari government said Tuesday it has implemented widespread measures to protect immigrant workers from the coronavirus, after a German documentary highlighted that ongoing construction of World Cup infrastructure raised the risk of infections.

    The government said in a statement to The Associated Press that it is providing free healthcare and a salary-guarantee for those workers affected by the virus, and is bringing a daily shipment of food and protective equipment into the industrial area where immigrant laborers reside.

    The response came after a German documentary reported on severe food shortages for the workers and an increased risk of infection due to cramped conditions inside a quarantined part of the Industrial Area district outside Doha.

    Retail shops and bank branches in shopping malls are closed as Qatar bids to contain the virus. The Persian Gulf country has reported over 1,800 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with some 130 recoveries and four deaths.

    But work on construction sites continues as Qatar gets ready to host the World Cup in 2022. Migrant workers are driving the effort.

    Qatar, like other Gulf Arab nations, relies on foreign laborers to build its mega projects and highways. They take the jobs to earn incomes they never could back home, though abuse and maltreatment have been reported for years. Many live in cramped, dormitory-style housing.

    The Qatari government told the AP on Tuesday that “1,000 trucks loaded with goods enter the Industrial Area daily” and that food, water, masks, gloves and hand sanitizers are being delivered to workers.

    An outbreak of COVID-19 infections led the state to close off the zone between Street No. 1 and Street No. 32 of the Industrial Area in a bid to contain the virus last month. Affected workers told German broadcaster ARD that they are effectively imprisoned in the lockdown area with little to eat and little protection against the virus. Social distancing is not possible for the workers.

    Footage shot with mobile phones showed empty supermarket shelves and workers rushing to receive supplies from a government delivery.

    The broadcaster said it spoke to workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and countries in Africa. They all asked to remain anonymous because of fears of retribution for speaking out about their conditions. Some expressed fears they would not receive their salaries.

    The Qatari government told AP it had set up dedicated health centers to treat patents with COVID-19 in the Industrial Area, as well as three checkpoints for testing and screening. Treatment would be free and “those who do not have a valid work visa will also be treated free of charge without fear of detention or financial penalties.”

    It said it would “guarantee that all residents who are in quarantine or undergoing treatment will receive full salaries on schedule.”

    It also said it was limiting the number of people in accommodation rooms to four, and introducing social distancing measures at work, “such as staggering entry and exit of workers to and from their workplace, limiting all bus capacity to a maximum of 50 percent and ensuring masks and hand sanitizers are available at worksites.”

    Last week, a number of human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Fair/Square, Human Rights Watch and Migrant-Rights.org urged Qatar Prime Minister Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani to protect migrant workers during the pandemic.

    “Qatar has made promising commitments to support migrant workers during this unprecedented crisis, including earmarking funds to cover quarantined migrant workers’ wages, and setting up a hotline for grievances,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Now, more than ever, such promises need to be implemented.”

    https://indianexpress.com/article/sp...virus-6353478/


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  60. #60
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    Marriages and divorces in Dubai have been suspended "until further notice" as a result of the coronavirus.

    The move, announced by the justice department on Wednesday, is among "measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic" rolled out in the Gulf emirate, which has reported 2,659 infections and 12 deaths.

    Justice Khaled al-Hawsni of the family court also said on the department's website that couples who have already completed marriage formalities must not organise wedding parties "even among their immediate circles".

    On Tuesday, the Personal Status Court in Dubai decided to suspend all legal services related to family matters based on Islamic jurisprudence, which holds that “repelling an evil is preferable to securing a benefit", the Arab news reported.

    Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, has come to a virtual halt, with its famous malls and sprawling hotels shuttered.

    All citizens and residents, other than those in essential services, require a permit to leave their homes.

    Following a steep rise in the number of cases, the UAE indefinitely extended a curfew on Saturday that was enforced on March 26 to allow for a nationwide disinfection.

    On Monday, UAE carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways resumed limited passenger flights, two weeks after authorities grounded aeroplanes as part of wider shutdowns to combat the coronavirus.

    The flights are open to foreign citizens who wish to leave the UAE, but no incoming passengers are allowed.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...143415876.html


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  61. #61
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    Gaza runs out of coronavirus tests, Palestinian health officials say

    The Gaza Strip has no more coronavirus test kits, Reuters quoted Palestinian health officials said on Wednesday, amid fears of disaster if the illness spreads in the blockaded, densely packed enclave.

    “Testing at our central laboratory has stopped, after coronavirus test kits completely ran out,” Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

    The impoverished coastal strip has for years been under a blockade led by neighbouring Israel, which it says is needed to stop weapons and money reaching its enemy, Hamas.

    Gaza has reported 13 cases of coronavirus infection, all of whom are at quarantine facilities. But officials have voiced concern that a shortage of critical equipment and medical supplies could set off a rapid spread amongst the enclave's two million people.


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  62. #62
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    The senior Saudi prince who is governor of Riyadh is in intensive care with the coronavirus. Several dozen other members of the royal family have been sickened as well. And doctors at the elite hospital that treats Al-Saud clan members are preparing as many as 500 beds for an expected influx of other royals and those closest to them, according to an internal “high alert” sent out by hospital officials.

    “Directives are to be ready for V.I.P.s from around the country,” the operators of the elite facility, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, wrote in the alert, sent electronically Tuesday night to senior doctors. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

    “We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” the message stated, instructing that “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP,” and that only “top urgent cases” will be accepted. It said any sick staff members would now be treated at a less elite hospital to make room for the royals.

    More than six weeks after Saudi Arabia reported its first case, the coronavirus is striking terror into the heart of the kingdom’s royal family.

    As many as 150 royals in the kingdom are now believed to have contracted the virus, including members of its lesser branches, according to a person close to the family.

    King Salman, 84, has secluded himself for his safety in an island palace near the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea, while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his son and the 34-year-old de facto ruler, has retreated with many of his ministers to the remote site on the same coast where he has promised to build a futuristic city known as Neom.

    Like the hospitalization this week of the British prime minister or the deaths last month of several top Iranian officials, the affliction of the al-Saud royal clan is the latest evidence of the pandemic’s egalitarianism. The virus afflicts the richest princes and the poorest migrant workers with no discrimination — at least, until the moment they begin to seek testing or treatment.

    The sickness in the royal family, though, may also shed new light on the motivation behind the speed and scale of the kingdom’s response to the pandemic.

    Its rulers began restricting travel to Saudi Arabia and shut down pilgrimages to the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina even before the kingdom had reported its first case, on March 2. The authorities have now cut off all air and land travel into or out of its borders and between internal provinces. They have placed all of its biggest cities under a strict 24-hour lockdown, allowing only short trips to the closest grocery or drugstores, and they have indicated that they are likely to cancel the annual hajj pilgrimage scheduled for this summer. A pillar of the Islamic faith that draws 2.5 million Muslims to Mecca, the hajj has taken place every year without interruption since 1798, when Napoleon invaded Egypt.

    “If it is reaching into the family, then it becomes an urgent issue,” said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a professor at Rice University who studies the kingdom.

    Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, so far has reported 41 deaths from the coronavirus and 2,795 confirmed cases. But while imploring residents to stay home, Saudi health officials warned Tuesday that the epidemic was just getting started. The number of infections over the next few weeks “will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000,” the health minister, Tawfiq al-Rabiah, said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

    Exactly how far the virus may already have spread inside the kingdom, though, is impossible to determine. As in many jurisdictions, Saudi Arabia has been able to conduct only limited testing, with its principal medical laboratory working around the clock to try to keep up with the demand. “This has been a challenge for everyone, and Saudi Arabia is not an exception,” Joanna Gaines, a senior epidemiologist with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who works with the Saudi government as part of a longstanding training program, said in an interview from Riyadh.

    A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

    The infection and treatment of the governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, was confirmed by two doctors with ties to the elite hospital and two others close to the royal family. A former military officer believed to be in his late 70s, he is a nephew of King Salman and a grandson of the founder of the modern kingdom. As governor of Riyadh, the capital, Prince Faisal holds a post previously occupied by a favorite son of the former King Abdullah and before that by King Salman himself.

    The royal family includes thousands of princes, many of whom travel routinely to Europe. Some are believed to have brought back the virus, according to doctors and people close to the family.

    The first case the kingdom acknowledged was a Saudi who had returned home after visiting Iran, a regional epicenter of the virus. After a handful of similar cases were detected, the Saudi authorities responded by locking down areas of the kingdom’s eastern province that are home to many members of the Shiite Muslim minority, deemed more likely to have visited Shiite holy sites or seminaries in Iran.

    Three doctors with ties to hospitals in the kingdom said the biggest outbreaks of the virus were taking place among non-Saudis. Migrant workers from Southeast Asia or poorer Arab countries make up about a third of the kingdom’s population of roughly 33 million. Most live crowded together in large camps outside the major cities, sleeping several to a room and riding to work crammed into buses — ideal conditions for the transmission of a virus.

    Those workers are also unable to go home now that air travel has been cut off, and many have limited access to health care. Employers are ostensibly required to provide private health coverage to their foreign workers, but the rules are seldom enforced and the coverage “is pretty bare bones if it even exists,” said Steffen Hertog, a professor at the London School of Economics who studies Saudi Arabia.

    Several doctors in Saudi Arabia or with ties to its hospitals said the kingdom’s biggest current outbreaks were in vast slums around Mecca and Medina. They are home to hundreds of thousands of ethnically African or Southeast Asian Muslims whose parents or grandparents overstayed pilgrimage visas decades ago.

    Most of the Saudi-born descendants of those migrants now form a permanent underclass with no legal status and limited access to health care or other government services. The largest number are believed to be descendants of refugees from Burma, now known as Myanmar, who arrived more than 70 years ago.

    What’s more, any permanent resident or migrant worker without a current visa risks deportation, potentially discouraging them from coming forward to seek care.

    In an apparent recognition of the problem, King Salman decreed last week that the government would now provide treatment to any foreigner with the coronavirus, regardless of visa or residency status.

    “It was a very smart move essentially to say, ‘If you are sick or you think you may have been sick, please come forward,’” said Dr. Gaines of the Centers for Disease Control. “You are going to drive down some of the behavior where people may be tempted to hide cases or not get diagnosed, and then you would have a problem simmering underground.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/w...nfections.html


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  63. #63
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    Saudi Arabia to give $525 million for Yemen humanitarian, coronavirus response: minister

    Saudi Arabia will contribute $500 million to the United Nations humanitarian response plan for Yemen in 2020 and $25 million to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus, the kingdom’s vice defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said on Thursday.

    No confirmed cases have been reported so far in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in a five-year war that has killed more than 100,000 people and spread hunger and disease.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-y...-idUSKCN21Q3C1

  64. #64
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  65. #65
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    First case in war-torn Yemen

    Yemen has reported its first coronavirus case - in the eastern province of Hadramout.

    Aid groups have been warning the spread of the disease could have a catastrophic impact in the war-torn country.

    Yesterday, a unilateral two-week ceasefire called by the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen came into effect.

    The five-year conflict has devastated Yemen, reportedly killed more than 100,000 people, and triggered what the UN considers the world's worst humanitarian crisis.


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  66. #66
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    Yemen confirms first coronavirus case, braces for outbreak

    Yemen has reported its first coronavirus case in a southern province, raising fears of catastrophic consequences in a healthcare system broken by five years of war

    "The first confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported in Hadramout province," Yemen's supreme national emergency committee for COVID-19 said on Twitter on Friday.

    The committee, run by the internationally recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said the infected patient was in stable condition and receiving care.

    "The case is in isolation and treatment, all known contacts are being traced and quarantined," the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Twitter.

    "WHO is working closely with [the health ministry] to ensure further rapid containment measures are taken."

    Hadramout province has seen some of the worst pockets of malnutrition and disease in the war-torn country.

    Control of the large southern province has long been divided. Government forces backed by a Saudi-UAE-led military coalition control the coastal towns, but parts of the interior remain in the hands of al-Qaeda fighters.

    The committee said medical teams and concerned authorities had taken all necessary precautions and promised to release further details on the coronavirus case later on Friday.

    The patient was a Yemeni working in the port of al-Shihr, a local official told Reuters news agency.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...071556509.html

  67. #67
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    Many Christians in Africa usually attend services on Good Friday, but this Easter, like elsewhere in the world, most churches were closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
    As several countries on the continent extend restrictions, these are the main developments:

    In South Africa the decision to extend the lockdown until the end of April has been met with dismay by some, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance party warning it would create “an economic disaster”. But President Cyril Ramaphosa said there was clear evidence the restriction was already limiting the spread of Covid-19

    In Kenya several people have been injured following a stampede in a queue for food aid in Kibera, a slum in the capital, Nairobi. Many people are desperate for help having been forbidden from going to work because of coronavirus restrictions

    One of the main hospitals in Libya’s capital, Tripoli - used to treat coronavirus patients - is suspending its activities because of being repeatedly targeted in bombardments. Fighting in the city has intensified in recent weeks despite hopes for a ceasefire to deal with the pandemic

    Several MPs in Botswana have been moved to a supervised quarantine facility after they were caught in shopping in a supermarket. On Thursday, all parliamentarians were asked to quarantine in their homes for 14 days after a health worker who had been screening them for the coronavirus herself tested positive

    Health workers in Lagos state, the economic hub of Nigeria, have started house-to-house screenings. The idea is to scout for those who potentially have coronavirus and prioritise them for testing. A similar scheme has been carried out in Cameroon’s largest city Douala.


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  68. #68
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    Iran says virus deaths rise 125 to 4,357

    Iran has reported 125 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the overall toll in the Middle East's worst-hit country to 4,357.

    Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a news conference that 1,837 new infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 70,029.

    Iran has carried out 251,703 tests for the virus so far, he added.


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  69. #69
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    Saudi King approves extension of curfew until further notice

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approved an extension of the kingdom’s curfew until further notice due to the rate at which the coronavirus is currently spreading, the state news agency reported, according to Reuters.

    Last week, Saudi Arabia placed its capital Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour curfew, locking down much of the population to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.


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  70. #70
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    Israel tightens quarantine in Jerusalem to halt virus spread

    The Israeli government approved a tight quarantine of several areas of Jerusalem in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the city's most susceptible neighborhoods, AP reported.

    A ministerial committee gave approved the shutting down of movement in and out of several areas of the city in order to contain the disease that has already resulted in over 100 deaths in Israel and almost 6,000 around the Middle East, the vast majority in Iran.

    The measure that had been debated for days, faced resistance from ultra-Orthodox ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government who rejected singling out their constituency.


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  71. #71
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    The United Nations envoys in the Middle East have urged all warring parties in the region to end hostilities and turn their focus to "the true fight of our lives" - tackling the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

    In a statement on Saturday, the envoys for Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stressed that solidarity is required to face the challenge of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus. But this cannot happen "if the guns of war and conflict are not silenced", they said.

    Many parties have responded positively to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's appeal on March 23 for immediate ceasefires, the five envoys said. But there was a need for stepped-up action, they said, with COVID-19 compounding the suffering of people caught up in conflicts in the Middle East.

    "At a time like this, partisanship and narrow interests must yield to the greater cause and the good of the people," their appeal said.

    "That is why we echo the secretary-general in calling on all parties in the Middle East to work with the UN so we can 'focus on the true fight of our lives' which is COVID-19."

    The UN envoys called on all parties to conflicts to engage without preconditions in negotiations to immediately halt hostilities, to sustain existing ceasefires, and to achieve "longer-term resolutions to the persistent conflicts across the region".

    They also urged all feuding parties "to reach out across conflict lines and cooperate locally, regionally and globally to stop the rapid spread of the virus" and to allow access for humanitarian aid and "humanitarian releases".

    The appeal was signed by UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis and UN Special Representative for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

    Guterres said on April 3 that warring parties in 11 countries had responded positively to his ceasefire appeal: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

    He told the UN Security Council in its first meeting on the coronavirus pandemic that he has been encouraged by the support for his call for a global ceasefire to all conflicts from world leaders, regional partners, civil society activists and religious leaders.

    "From South America to Africa and from the Middle East to Asia we have seen conflict parties take some initial steps to end violence and fight the pandemic," he said on Thursday. "Still, we must remain cautious, as any gains are fragile and easily reversible, as conflicts have festered for years, distrust is deep, and there are many spoilers."

    He also stressed that concerted international efforts, including by UN envoys, will be required to move from "good intentions to implementation", noting that "in many of the most critical situations, we have seen no let-up in fighting, and some conflicts have even intensified".

    In Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country which is suffering the world's worst humanitarian crisis, a two-week ceasefire proposed by the Saudi-led coalition backing the UN-recognised government went into effect on Thursday.

    But Houthi rebels, who control northern Yemen and the capital, Sanaa, quickly dismissed the Saudi ceasefire as a ploy to boost its international standing and accused the coalition of several attacks on Thursday.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...043630783.html


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  72. #72
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    Jordan extends closure of government offices until end of April

    Jordan on Sunday extended a month-long lockdown that has closed schools, universities and government agencies until the end of the month to stem the spread of coronavirus, the government spokesman said.

    Amjad Adailah said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz took the decision in light of “developments and recommendations” related to the pandemic. Medical and essential public services were exempt.

    The country announced on March 20 a nationwide curfew that closed shops and prohibited the movement of people. It came days after the monarch enacted emergency law that gave the government sweeping powers to restrict civil and political rights.

    Jordan had registered 389 coronavirus cases and seven deaths as of April 12.

    The country has been quicker than most in the region to take drastic measures to stem the spread of the virus by imposing a tight lockdown that has brought large sectors of the economy to a standstill.

    The government has in recent days begun to allow some export-oriented industries and agro-industries to get back to work in an effort to cushion the negative repercussions on the aid dependant economy.

    The crisis, which has severely hit tourism that generates around $5 billion annually, will slash growth projections, economists and officials say, as its deepens an economic downturn and a slowdown in domestic consumption that were evident even before the outbreak.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-h...-idUSKCN21U0QZ

  73. #73
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    As Europe and the United States struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic, experts warn that disaster looms in war-torn Syria, where hospitals are unable to meet existing needs and hygiene conditions are dire.

    The outbreak has infected more than 1.8 million people and killed more than 112,000 around the world since emerging in China in December last year.

    In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad's government has closed borders, forbidden movement between provinces and shut schools and restaurants in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

    Official numbers are low, with two deaths and 19 confirmed cases, but only 100 patients are being tested a day, with half of the testing carried out in the capital, Damascus.

    And while the government has regained control of most of the country after almost a decade of civil war, some areas are still held by rebel forces.

    Experts accuse Damascus of minimising its death toll for political motives.

    "Medical staff believe that there are many people who are dying in Syria with the symptoms of the virus," said Zaki Mehchy, senior consulting fellow at London-based think-tank Chatham House.

    "But the security agencies ask them or order them not to mention it, especially to the media," he added.

    'Impossible physical distancing'

    Aid groups are sounding the alarm on the potentially devastating consequences of a severe outbreak in Syria, where nine years of war have hit hospitals hard, leaving them ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic.

    "There is a disaster in the making," said Emile Hokayem, Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London (IISS).

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than two-thirds of hospitals were up and running at the end of 2019, and 70 percent of healthcare workers have fled since the war began in 2011.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that physical distancing is impossible in displacement camps in Idlib, the last rebel-held province, which was already enduring a humanitarian crisis before the pandemic started.

    "A lack of food, clean water and exposure to cold weather have already left hundreds of thousands of people in poor health, making them even more vulnerable," said Misty Buswell from aid group International Rescue Committee (IRC), adding that the devastation in Idlib could be "unimaginable".

    The IRC said almost all the 105 intensive care beds and 30 adult ventilators in Idlib were already in use.

    The WHO had said testing would start in Idlib at the end of March, but little help was to be expected from Damascus, according to Mazen Gharibah, associate researcher at the London School of Economics.

    "One cannot simply assume that the regime - which was systematically targeting the hospitals three weeks ago - is going to provide the same hospitals with medical equipment next week," he said.

    About one million Syrians fled Idlib and its surrounding countryside in northwest Syria this past year after Russian-backed government forces stepped up a campaign to retake the last rebel stronghold after nine years of war.

    Fighting has calmed since March when Ankara, which backs some groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, agreed a ceasefire with Moscow, which has supported Damascus with heavy air power.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/...072258750.html


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  74. #74
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    Bahrain:
    Attached Images Attached Images  


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  75. #75
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    Gaza resumes coronavirus testing amid shortages

    Coronavirus testing has resumed in the Gaza Strip after Israel allowed five testing kits purchased by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the enclave, a Gaza health ministry spokesman said on Monday.


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  76. #76
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    Dubai: Muslim weddings will now be able to take place online, right from the registration of the marriage contract down to the recital of the Quran.

    “The service includes a remote marriage contract, where the authority can communication with the couple and the guardian at one time, and the finalisation of the marriage contract without the need for all parties to take place, in order to avoid contact and ensure social distancing by all concerned members,” said the ministry, who was quoted by the news agency WAM.

    https://gulfnews.com/uae/government/....1586671705026


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  77. #77
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    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Even as both face the same invisible enemy in the coronavirus pandemic, Iran and the United States remain locked in retaliatory pressure campaigns that now view the outbreak as just the latest battleground.

    Initially overwhelmed, Tehran now seeks to sway international opinion on U.S. sanctions by highlighting its struggles with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Iran asked for $5 billion from the International Monetary Fund even as it enriches uranium beyond the limits of its 2015 deal with world powers.

    The U.S., which unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump, insists that aid can reach the Islamic Republic — though humanitarian organizations say Washington’s sanctions disrupt even permitted trade.

    At the same time, the U.S. is now withdrawing troops from Iraqi bases, redeployments it insists are pre-planned even as Trump alleges Iran plans “a sneak attack” against them.

    The risk of open conflict between the countries is overshadowed by the pandemic. Yet it persists — some say at levels as high as immediately after the January drone strike by the U.S. that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

    “After Soleimani’s killing, everybody thought there will be war, but nothing happened,” said Mahsa Rouhi, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Whereas we were so close to war that it’s not that nothing happened. And we are not back to normal. ... We are back to a situation where any move could easily escalate into a conflict.”

    The current tensions can seem trivial, compared to the pandemic, which has infected at least 1.9 million people worldwide and killed over 119,000. This perception has been helped by mocking social media posts from the U.S. State Department and a former leader of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard seemingly backing the fringe idea of California seceding from the U.S.

    The stakes, however, are anything but. The night Iran retaliated for the Soleimani killing, it also accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people aboard. Allied Shiite militias in Iraq also continue to threaten American forces deployed there in the aftermath of the fight against the Islamic State group.

    While largely silent in the initial days of the outbreak in Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has begun a concerted campaign targeting American sanctions. It’s a way to absolve Iran’s civilian government of responsibility for an outbreak it hasn’t contained. But Zarif’s allegations of “medical terror” by the U.S. also highlight the challenge Tehran faces in accessing some medical supplies.

    While the U.S. says medical and humanitarian aid remains exempt, Human Rights Watch said American laws as written affect Iran’s access to crucial equipment, “including ventilators, CT scanners, decontamination equipment and full-mask respirators.” Meanwhile, international firms remain leery of running afoul of U.S. sanctions even for authorized transactions with Iran.

    “One of the problems for international aid has been to clarify the legal issues related to sanctions to ensure that medical supplies and medicines can be brought into Iran,” Olivier Vandecasteele, Relief International’s country director for Iran, said in a statement “This slowed down the health response in the first weeks of the outbreak.”

    A European system called INSTEX did get aid through, as has a Swiss channel. China also has contributed, as have regional Gulf Arab countries, likely worried about Iran further spreading the virus into their own nations. Meanwhile, Iran insists it can produce masks and gloves, something the U.S. has argued undercuts Tehran’s $5 billion request to the IMF, which would be its first loan since 1962.

    All this comes as Iran continues to produce low-enriched uranium with equipment and sites barred by the nuclear deal. Its nuclear program chief recently reiterated a threat that Iran could withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, though Iran didn’t make a show of its program during its recent annual National Day of Nuclear Energy.

    That bolsters suspicions of behind-the-scenes talks between intermediaries, particularly over the release of U.S. prisoners and other Westerners. Iran’s judiciary acknowledged ongoing prisoner-swap discussions on April 6, without elaborating.

    But overall tensions remain extraordinarily high. Online video and Iranian media reports suggest Iran has deployed Fajr-5 missile batteries on beaches along the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of all oil traded in the world passes.

    There have been reported maritime incidents in and around the strait as well. On March 27, two boats with a raised ladder approached a U.S.-flagged container ship, while Revolutionary Guard vessels approached a ship on April 2, according to private maritime security firm Dryad Global.

    The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, which routinely has tense interactions with Iranian forces. declined to comment. However, last summer saw a series of tense encounters at sea and on land that included the seizure of oil tankers.

    The U.S. pressure campaign in part seeks to force Iran into spending at home rather than on its regional allies. Tehran views such groups as part of its defensive deterrence in the region.

    Meanwhile, people continue to die of the virus in Iran in the pandemic that could spread further into American allies in the region, forcing the world to still work with Tehran, Rouhi said.

    “At the end of the day, it’s still that bad actor that is governing a country of more than 80 million,” she said. “You don’t have an alternative.”

    https://apnews.com/4d7f4f3abd2abdc2c...source=Twitter


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  78. #78
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    Sacked Pakistani workers left stranded in Gulf

    Thousands of Pakistanis working in Gulf states have appealed to their government to fly them home, after they lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

    At least 11,000 Pakistani workers, possibly many more, have been sacked over the past few days and can't return home because of restrictions. Some say they are running out of food and money.

    Pakistan International Airlines is flying home 1,800 Pakistanis on Tuesday, out of about 40,000 who will be repatriated, mostly from the Middle East. They include 410 in the UAE, and 270 in Thailand and Japan, plus 400 pligrims in Saudi Arabia.

    The numbers of foreign workers employed in the Gulf are vast. More than nine million Pakistanis, and millions of others from around Asia, are employed there. Pakistani workers abroad sent home more than $20bn last year and remittances are crucial to the country's economy.


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  79. #79
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    As rebel-held Syria fears virus, just one machine is there to test

    A single machine at Mohamad Shahim Makki's medical centre in Idlib province, part of Syria's last rebel stronghold, is the only alarm that will sound when the coronavirus strikes a population of millions of the world's most vulnerable people.


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  80. #80
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    Iran says virus deaths drop below 100 for first time in month

    Iran said the number of lives lost in the country to the novel coronavirus dropped to double figures for the first time in one month.

    Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 98 deaths from the COVID-19 disease were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 4,683.

    "Unfortunately, we lost 98 of our compatriots infected with the disease... but after a month of waiting, this is the first day that the death toll has been double figures," he told a televised news conference


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