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Coronavirus Middle East LIVE-UPDATES Feb. 25

Updated: Mar 27



For the first installment the Middle East Coronavirus Daily Update (MECDU) of our daily updates on coronavirus in the Middle East see this link for prior to February 25.


Compiled by Seth J. Frantzman and MECRA staff


February 25


Worldwide: 80,249 cases, 2,706 deaths

Hashtags: #كورونا

#فايروس_كورونا


Iran: According to official data there are now 15 dead in Iran. UAE has 13 cases. Bahrain has 8 cases, 6 more than February 24. Kuwait also has 8, three more than the day before. Israel has 2, Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt 1.


Iran - Iranian officials announced on Tuesday that it recorded 3 new deaths from the newly created Corona virus, which raises the total number of deaths in Iran as a result of the disease to 15, according to official media. Police Commander Hossein Rahimi told reporters on Tuesday said 1.5 million medical masks have been found. Police are inspecting warehouses for legal and illegal mask manufacturers.- IRNA; Ali Shamkhani (علی شمخانی), secretary of the Supreme National Security Council condemned Ahmad Amirabadi (احمد امیرآبادی), Qom's representative, for spreading news about coronavirus deaths. Hassan Rouhani: With God's help the country will pass coronavirus. "the president said, stating that people should not be scared of the Corona virus." Iran weighs continuing school closures. Mohsen Haji Mirzaei (محسن حاجی میرزایی) said he was following the Ministry of Health and that as soon as he learned of the virus the Ministry had taken steps to combat the virus."



"We are passing the virus. In the United States, the influenza B virus has 16,000 casualties. People should not be scared of the Corona virus....Let's all follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and help each other...These days the Corona virus is an uninvited traveler and goes to any country, but we have to overcome this problem." - Hassan Rouhani

New cases in Kuwait and Bahrain. Kuwait announced the number of cases had risen to 8, all from Iran and Bahrain sad that the number had increased to 6 from Iran. - Al Arabiya. Bahraini and Saudi citizens coming from Iran through Dubai were affected. The cases arrived in the Kingdom before the issuance of the Civil Aviation Affairs decision to suspend all flights coming from Dubai International Airport for 48 hours.


Bahrain: Bahrain suspends flights to Dubai and Sharjah.

All passengers arriving on direct flights from Tehran will receive thermal screening at the airport by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and its Airport Medical Centre team. Customers affected by the suspension are urged to contact their airlines directly for details on rebooking.

UAE: UAE stops flights to Iran, except Tehran. Air Arabia and FlyDubai operate about 25 weekly flights to Iranian cities other than Tehran. Emirates only flies to Tehran (Esfahan, Lar, Mashhad and Shiraz). Dr Rakesh Suri, head of a top hospital in Abu Dhabi has warned residents against paranoia, saying the UAE was prepared to protect its people against Covid-19. - The National.


Oman: Port stops imports and exports to Iran.


Afghanistan: After case confirmed in Herat had returned from Qom: "Land borders in Herat, which borders Iran, have been closed to prevent the virus from spreading further. Two other provinces bordering Iran - Farah and Nimroz - have likewise shut their entry points. According to the National Security Council in Afghanistan, all travel - both by land and air - to and from Iran has been suspended. Food imports from Afghanistan’s western neighbor have also been halted." - The National. An estimated 3,000 cross illegally every day.


Kuwait: Kuwaiti Ministry of Health announced today, Tuesday, that three Kuwaiti citizens were infected with the emerging corona virus, they had returned from Iran and are quarantined and in good health, bringing the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country to 8. - Al-Jarida. Kuwait says it will quarantine its citizens coming back from South Korea, Italy or Thailand and prevent anyone else from those countries from arriving. Flights were also suspended.


Kurdistan region of Iraq: Panic causes long lines to gas up cars in fear of fuel crises due to border closures. “I received a phone call from my cousin telling me I must rush to a petrol station as soon as possible because Iran’s border is closed and I have to refuel before the price goes up,” Yasin said to Rudaw. "Eighteen pharmacies in the Kurdish capital of Erbil were closed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Saturday after they raised the price of medical masks." - Rudaw.


Iraq: Phone numbers to call for coronavirus given out by government, at least one doesn't work. Masks available are expired. Ministry of Health procedures critiqued for being below standards. Ministry advises not to travel to Najaf (النجف). Reports that up to 20 have been quarantined. Schools and work suspended in the city. - Radio Nawa. Photos online show food and drink brought to the coronavirus patient, whose name is given as Suhail Al-Amiri (سهيل الأميري). Iraq bans entry of people from South Korea, Japan, Italy, Singapore and Thailand; extends ban on China and Iran. Travel from Najaf banned for ten days. Holy tombs are sterilized in Najaf, such as this one (ابن أبي طالب). At noon reports that there may be several more cases in Iraq, including in Kirkuk. 20 people are under observation.


Iraq directives: The suspension of official working hours in schools and universities in Najaf for ten days. Stopping entry of foreigners from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Singapore. Extending the suspension of entry of foreigners from China and Iran.

Oman: The two women have diagnosed with coronavirus Monday arrived from Iran, Oman's Health Ministry announced.


NYT article on Iran argues that it was a recipe for a major outbreak, and will have hard time coping. New regional map.





Afternoon February 25


Kurdistan region: Kurdistan Regional Government announces the suspension of official working hours in all schools in the region as a precaution, especially after diagnosing cases that infected the Corona virus in the city of Kirkuk.- Maa Habib. All schools to close. Ceng Sagnic: "Kurdistan is handling the risk with proactive and transparent measures. It was among the very first governments to close its border and start quarantines. Though still may not be enough to stop the virus or contain other risks associated with it, I'm personally impressed." Reports that kits to test for virus have arrived. Restrictions placed on travelers from other parts of Iraq.


Iran: Iranian Health Minister Nemeki called for people not to go out into the streets in 11 provinces where coronavirus was detected in order not to have to apply quarantine. Iran may have fueled crises by trying to keep trade with China in weeks before February 19 (Bloomberg news). Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi has coronavirus. On February 24 at a joint press conference with spokesman of the government Rabiei he said they don't believe in quarantines of cities. He put a video on February 25 saying he has it (Abas Aslani) . It appears military personnel no longer shaking hands (ISNA video). Mass prayers continue in Qom as disinfectant was sprayed in some areas. Long lines for masks photographed. Tasnim puts on a doctor with recommendation (see video). Second video of Harirchi giving interview while sick emerges via Iribnews. Translated complaints from families of Iranian victims (see post). ISNA rejects rumors Ayatollah Shabiri Zanjani has the virus. The Health Ministry announced 34 new cases, bringing the number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 95. MP Mahmud Sadeghi from Tehran tweets that he has the virus, he had critiqued the ministry of health for denying the numbers and had expressed concern about Mahan air continuing to fly to China. He also expressed concern about its spread during elections. Dr. Hafezi says Iran should ask China to help build a hospital.


Now that the election is over, with permission, I again warn Mr. Minister and other health officials; please take the coronavirus seriously. People are worried. Addressing this epidemic requires national trust and cooperation above all. Gain public confidence by honestly telling the truth. - Mahmoud Sadeghi (Feb 22, 2020), he tested positive on February 25.

Nathan Ruser: "By my count Iran has now exported 32 cases of #COVID19. That probably gives an indication of how intense the spread must be in Iran. If 214k people fly out of Iran every February (per WorldPop) that implies about 0.015% of Iran is infected (>10k people - very very very rough)."


Bahrain: The number of cases rises to 17.


Oman: Two new cases.


US Coalition: “The Coalition takes active measures to ensure military and civilian personnel are educated about and protected from COVID-19.  The health and safety of our forces are our top priorities, we are implementing guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure our forces remain able to support our security partners in Iraq and Syria.  We have no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Coalition."


Turkey: Quarantines for citizens returning from Iran.


Kuwait: 9th case of coronavirus.


Pompeo accuses Iran and China of hiding aspects of coronavirus outbreak "censorship ...deadly consequences."


Read the NEXT INSTALLMENT after February 26




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