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From March 11 coronavirus updates Middle East

Updated: Mar 27



View the previous live updates of the Middle East Coronavirus Daily Update (MECDU):

First installment: February 15-25 Second Installment: February 25

Third Installment: February 26-March 10


Compiled by Seth J. Frantzman


March 11

Iran : 9,000 cases, a rise of almost 1,000 in a day. 354 dead. "Rumors about Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri's contraction of #Covid19 are true." - Fereshteh Sadeghi. Rouhani refuses quarantine. Iran claims US "shamelessly" blocking aid. Asked about the impact of US sanctions on Iran’s fight against the virus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, “The oppressive and illegal American sanctions, which [have been imposed on Iran] within the framework of the  ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, have affected public welfare and health in Iran.” Pompeo; "Reports that COVID-19 has spread to Iranian prisons are deeply troubling and demand nothing less than the full and immediate release of all American citizens," Pompeo said. "Their detention amid increasingly deteriorating conditions defies basic human decency." Fars Agency: Iranian Vice President and 2 members of the government are infected with Corona virus: Ali Asghar Mounesan, minister of tourism, and Reza Rahmani, minister of industry, also have #coronavirus. Media in Iran question official narrative. Entrance to Khuzestan province closed. Iran made a thermal camera.

Lebanon: Rumors that Nasrallah or Hezbollah officials have virus.

Israel: 77 cases. The Directorate of Production and Procurement in the Israel Ministry of Defense has launched an expedited procurement operation worth approximately NIS 50 Million, to equip the IDF with medical equipment. Israel sends disinfectant to West Bank.

Bahrain: 79 new cases, most evacuated from Iran. Bahrain will have motorsports without spectators.


Lebanon: Live briefing about virus meeting. Radio Sawa warns of worse to come. Lebanon flights cancelled. Nine new cases. "ebanon bans all entry/exit to/from Italy, Iran, South Korea and China, and gives 4 days to Lebanese and their families to come back from France, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Germany, Spain & the UK before all entry/exit to/from those countries is banned."

Turkey: Announces first case. Postpones trade fairs.

Kuwait suspends commercial flights. Government announces holiday due to virus. Suspension of flights is a big deal.

UAE schools will do elearning.


Oman forms supreme committee to confront virus.

Qatar: Large increase of virus to 262. Reported at other sites as well here. "The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) announced 238 new confirmed cases of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the State of Qatar for expatriates who had contact with the three cases that were declared infected last Sunday and who reside in one residential complex."

Syria Semalka border crossing closed to European passport holders.


Iraq: Sadr slams Trump and says does not want coronavirus support from US.


Saudi Arabia denies rumors of 600 more cases.


UAE and Saudi put out adds about virus.


March 12


Saudi Arabia suspends flights to EU and other places.


Kurdistan region of Iraq suspends travel between provinces except for UN, NGOs after three new cases found.


Israel has 100 cases now. Bahrain 195 cases.


Iran 9,000 cases.


Qatar 262 cases.


March 13


In Kurdistan Region of Iraq a lockdown for 48 hours. Internal security patrol streets. Curfew in effect.


Bahrain has a "war room" against the virus. Britain’s former director of public health, professor John Ashton, has been advising the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad on his country’s response to Covid-19 and has flown out to the Gulf state twice since the onset of the outbreak. “I’ve been very critical about the fact they [Britain] haven’t been doing that whereas Bahrain have been doing it there from the outset, publishing the data regularly, holding regular press conferences and generally seeking to engage the community. They are involving everybody in the war against the virus,” he told The National. 13 new cases. Grand Prix cancelled. 50 million tourism jobs at risk worlwide.


Israel: 143 people in Israel with cases. Netanyahu calls for unity government. 17 more cases.


Iran to clean streets against virus. Photos show hospital beds in parking lots and mass graves.


Lebanon: 9 new cases, 17 total. Nasrallah speech: "Nasrallah: Our decision must be confrontation of this threat. When the Israeli enemy invaded Lebanon, people debated how to respond. But now we must confront this invading enemy with resistance - we must not feel defeated...Nasrallah: This confrontation is the responsibility of everyone - the entire government, the cabinet - not just the Health Ministry. All other ministries, the judiciary, the parliament, army, security forces, municipalities, etc."


Eastern Syria administration concerned about virus spread.


Iran: More than 500 new cases and 11,364 infected. Foreign policy adviser to #Iran's supreme leader Ali Akbar Velayati has tested positive. Preparations to quarantine Tehran. On Saturday morning, Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Maj-Gen Baqeri said security forces will "clear shops, streets, and roads... in 24 hours". Lt. General Nasser Sha’abani (Senior IRGC commander Nasser Shabani,) was a member of Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) for 37 years and had held many senior posts and commands in Iran’s elite military force, died on March 13. Iran formed Imam Reza Health & Medical Treatment HQ. Armed Forces head Bagheri says that in 10 days, all Iranian people will be monitored & checked via internet, phone calls or visiting in-person regarding #CoronaVirus.


Kuwait: 8 new cases with total of 75. 20 more total. Drones used to get people to go home.


Iraq: New cases in Najaf and Baghdad bring total to 83. Total 90 by end of day.


Abu Dhabi bans sheesha. Dubai cuts prices for utilities. UAE praises itself.


Qatar casts doubt transmission of virus and regulators. Qatar sends aid shipment to ran that includes 5.5-ton of medical and sanitary supplies arrives.


Nasrallah and Al-Manar spread new ran and China talking points claiming coronavirus is a US conspiracy.


Gulf states may ban foreigners arriving.


Palestinian PA: 4 new for total of 35.


Turkey: 4 new for 5 total. Turkey says it is impossible to stop spread of coronavirus in Syrian refugee camps.


Saudi Arabia: 17 new cases. Saudi arrests people fleeing Qatif lockdown.


Mauritania: First case.


March 14


Iran: 11,364 infected, Qatar 320, Bahrain 210, Israel 154, Iraq 101, Kuwait 100, Egypt 93, UAE 85, Palestinian PA 35, Algeria 27, Tunisia 16, Afghanistan 10, Turkey 5.


Iran concerned about "gossip." Iran to regulate markets and control supplies of goods. President Rouhani seeks to control media coverage, claims he wants to provide accurate information.


Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights for two weeks from Sunday as it steps up measures to deal with the global spread of coronavirus.


Iraq: Returnees from Iran warn that government is lying and that there is a disaster in Iran.

Turkey disinfects public spaces to stop coronavirus.


Sudan reports first case and death.


Mauritania: The first coronavirus case is a European.


Kuwait: Air India cancels flights to Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Authority has issued new a guidance regarding the COVID-19 situation on 11 March 2020, which includes the suspension of all commercial flights from 13th March 2020 until further notice.


Dubai: About 60-80 per cent of customers have cancelled or changed the dates after airlines announcing waivers for date change fees, said Afi Ahmed, Managing Director at Smart Travel. An executive at Advanced Travel and Tourism in Abu Dhabi said it had about 80 per cent cancellations even before a travel advisory was issued by the UAE. These cancellations were mostly to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.


Qatar: Airways chief critiqued for comments. Akbar Al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, has doubted the existence of coronavirus currently affecting 126 countries and territories and has infected more than 132,000 individuals. “During the incubation period, they say that this virus can be transmitted. There is no scientific evidence for that. It is just, you know, a fear factor,” the controversial airline chief said in an interview with Bloomberg. Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) announced today the registration of 58 new confirmed cases of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in the State of Qatar.


Lebanon: Hospital on strike as numbers rise to 77. Rafic Hariri University Hospital’s employees and contract workers’ committee declared an open-ended strike on March 12.


March 15


Saudi Arabia new cases, totals reach 103.


The Iraqi Health Ministry said 36 people recovered from the virus known as COVID-19 but acknowledged the death toll stands at nine.


Turkey offers Northern Cyprus aid. Turkish pilgrims returning from Umrah should not leave their homes nor accept visitors for 14 days “to protect their health and the health of the people around them,” the head of Turkish Religious Affairs said Sunday. Turkey closes border with Georgia and also stops air and transport to Azerbaijan.


Qatar: 17 new cases.


Palestinian PA; Three new cases.


Morocco, borders closed and European tourists struggle to get home. "Morocco suspended air, sea and land links with European countries and Algeria on Friday, as well as taking measures to confine citizens to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Flights to and from Algeria, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Italy were suspended “until further notice”, while sea links for passengers and Morocco’s land borders with Ceuta and a second Spanish enclave, Melilla, were closed." - France 24


Iran seeks to regulate markets. New restrictions in Iran as Rouhani seeks to control press coverage. Iran angry at Washington Post mass graves report, IRGC opens field hospital, Army seeks to rid streets of people amid "biowarfare drill."


March 16


Jordan: Several Jordanians found with coronavirus.


Iraq imposes night curfew. 133 infected, 32 recovered, & 10 died due to the virus - MoH - All Iraqi airports, including those in the KRI, will close to commercial flights from 6pm Tuesday until 6pm on March 24 - Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority - Curfew in more than 10 provinces


Qatar:Lockdown spreads in Qatar, see new measures. 38 new cases.


Lebanon: Aoun says national emergency.


Video of a fight on a plane from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon.


UAE:12 new cases in UAE. Closure of spas. Dubai airport almost empty. Enhanced screening, "nasal swabbing and screening process at DXB for #coronavirus / #Covid19 is specifically for passengers arriving from Beijing, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand and Italy. As I mentioned, security is much tighter for high-risk outbreak countries." UAE public prosecutor seeks to stop rumors.


Iran: Country refuses quarantine, beds seen in parking lot of hospital. 1,053 new cases for14,991 confirmed case. 853 deaths. Iran claims a 3.5% improvement in disease. Rouhani says Eid cancelled, thanks armed forces. IRGC's Salami says ready to contain the virus, day after "biowarfare drill" launched. Iran's parliament goes online - Fars News.


Kuwait: Drones used to alert people.


Kurdistan Region Iraq: Hospital donated for victims, free food distributed, curfew extended.


Turkey: 18th case confirmed, Turkey unveils economic measures, MPs urge stronger measures.


Saudi Arabia: Orders closure of shopping malls. 15 new cases announced.


Oman: Border closure except for GCC, some say all foreigners. Indian flights cancelled.


Israel: Israel to give fines of around $1,000 for those who don't register with health ministry, police seen arresting people who fled quarantine. Netanyahu's trial postponed. 213 cases total, doctor now infected. Israel reaches 250 cases and considers new closures. By end of day total of 277 cases. Israel announces new regulations and economic package to enable people to pay bills late.


Bahrain: A 65-year-old Bahraini woman became the first #coronavirus fatality in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 13 new cases.


Algeria: "Will suspend all sea and air travel between it and #Europe over the #coronavirus, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad says in a statement."


Press TV has a special on the virus n the Middle East.


Sudan: State of emergency over virus.


Kuwait: 11 new cases.


Egypt: US journalist posts tweet and deletes it about the virus in Egypt that estimated up to 19,000 infected.


March 18


Disinfecting videos from Dubai


Saudi Arabia publishes article about how it is dealing with coronavirus.


Egypt warns foreign reporters.


Turkey slashes interest rates and vows to evacuate 3,600 people from European countries. Antisemitism increases. Turkey announces first death from virus.


Oman closes all tourist sites, sports clubs, bans gatherings in public places over #coronavirus fears .


Qatar: Three new #coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 442 so far.


Algeria bans protests due to virus.


Israel launches new crackdown on quarantine breakers using anti-terror tech, also new announcements about national crises, 5,000 tests a day, and telling people to stay at home.


Iran: health minister asks President Rouhani €250 million funding to fight coronavirus.


Iraq: Disinfecting Iraq protest areas. Iraq establishes fund. Kurdistan region: Masrour Barzani encourages people to follow guidelines.


Questions about China and WHO.


UAE: Sharjah sprays disinfectant.


March 18


Iran: Health Ministry supports IRGC fight against coronavirus. President unveils s tamp commemorating victims of virus, Iran again claims that due to sanctions they can't combat virus, Shamkhani condemns US for not responding to coronavirus and insinuates US responsible for production of the virus. "International demands for its role in producing and disseminating Corona and continuing its crimes against the Iranian people by continuing economic sanctions." Pompeo adds sanctions on Iranians. WHO says Iran death toll could be five times the official numbers. Current Iranian infected are 16,169 and 988 deaths. Iran Press TV again pushes conspiracy that US created coronavirus: “There are too many indications now that the virus has been leaked from a bioweapons lab in the United States,” Dr. E. Michael Jones, writer and editor of the Culture Wars magazine, told Press TV on Tuesday. Rouhani claims he has done everything possible to warn people about virus, Mahmoud Sadeghi notes that big stores are still open.


Turkey: Al-Ain alleges "blackout" on coronavirus disaster in Turkey. Malls close, asylum seekers who use mosques complain of being left to die.


Israel detains people behind large wedding that violated guidelines. Israel's digital intelligence being used to track people, although Knesset oversight is unclear. Cases reach 427. Hi-Tech and apps show where infected people went.


Kuwait: 127 cases, government asks people to take precautions seriously.


Saudi Arabia suspends office work.


UAE: Restaurants closed. 127,000 tested for coronavirus in UAE.


Jordan announces cases reached 52.


Gulf banks affected by the virus.


"Tehran-based researchers concluded that in a best-case scenario, in which the government quarantines all high-risk areas, the country would reach the peak of the epidemic in roughly one week, and the death toll would exceed 12,000."- DW.


In eastern Syria they don't have any way to test for the virus.


donations to Iran from UAE, Turkey, Kuwait, and Qatar continue. Also people seeking to donate masks and other details. "She says nurses and doctors were crying in happiness as they are dealing with a significant lack of medical equipment." -Nafiseh Kohnavard.


Lebanese work twelve hour shifts to fight virus.

Saudi Arabia calls for virtual G20 this year.


Qatar airways and Emirates lay off staff, give unpaid leave.


Egypt denies it will lockdown governorates.


CBN airs report quoting MECRA.


March 19


Turkey: Toyota shuts down in Turkey. Mass shut down of major stores. Preparation for social distancing and closing schools.


Iran: 1,284 dead. Numbers are rising. 6,000 prisoners have been pardoned. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe temporarily released. Says one Iranian dies every ten minutes from the virus. IRGC praises Health minister, Iran claims US operates biological labs in country. Rouhani says he hopes things improve.


Iraq: Kurdistan region says a man has tested positive in Dohuk, the first in the governorate. Also a man who flew from Germany to KRG tested positive.


$7.8 billion in airline loses already this month. 1.7 million jobs threatened - Al-Jarida.


Israel: Brought out 100,000 testing kits for the virus, Ayub Kara says it's part of economic peace, hints Mossad brought them from country Israel doesn't have relations with. Urging people to return to country, including 1,000 from Peru. Jerusalem hotel will be used as a quarantine facility for those who are returning from abroad or came in proximity with confirmed cases. 75 Israelis arriving from the USA will head straight there.


UAE: The United Arab Emirates is extending its travel ban to deny entry to residency visa holders, according to state media. UAE bans entry of non-national residents for 2 weeks starting tomorrow. "Abu Dhabi International Airport has moved the majority of passenger flights from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. The move comes after the airport closed Terminal 2 earlier this week. Check-in for most flights out of AUH will now be at Terminal 3.

Select flights from Air India, Air India Express and Biman Bangladesh are still operating from Terminal 1." Abu Dhabi disinfects transport and taxis.


Kuwait: 6 new cases bringing the total to 148, according to a health ministry spokesman.


Jordan appears to enter a state of emergency, Al-Ghad reports no infections among those in hotels, army unaffected by travel restrictions, a look at the first day under quarantine, medical teams sent to Dead Sea, transportation of goods will continue. Video of the army.


March 20


China begins mask diplomacy, sending masks tot he West.


Israel: In Israel 6,000 people register for unemployment each hour, 400,000 by March 19 (Israeli workforce is 3.9 milIion). Concern that studies modeling the lockdowns "do not consider the ethical or economic implications of either strategy here, except to note that there is no easy policy decision to be made." Countries say they are short on ventilators. Israel police appear to be isolating the old city.


Turkey begins sending government staff home. Some pharmacies take drastic measures to protect staff from "#Koronavirüs". Scientific and cultural activities postponed.


Lebanon: economic crises looms. Lebanon promises to increase hospital capacity in 29 hospitals. Lebanon fears entering "phase four" of government anti-virus crackdown.


Iran: Televised Newroz message in Iran urges boost in production, despite the virus. Iran asks IMF for $5 billion to fight the virus Iranians come together in crises. Fear persists for those in Evin prison. As US continues sanctions, many calls for the policy to end or for other countries to get around them. Report notes of "Trump told advisers hitting back at Iran during pandemic was bad optics." Reports that 50 are infected every hour and 6 deaths recorded. "Toll is now 1,433 with 19,644 confirmed infections, according to a health official."


Saudi Arabia: Export of medicines, pharmaceutical and medical devices will be halted on Friday, the Saudi Customs announced in a circular sent to its land, sea and air customs ports, state news agency SPA reported. King Salman gave a speech.


Kuwait: Update to 159 cases.


Pakistan: US sends $1 million from USAid.


Iraq: Three new infections.


Gaza: Concerns Israel's blockade could harm treatment of virus.


Syria: White Helmets put photos of them disinfecting.


Morocco: 66 cases, three deaths.


Coronavirus will harm IDPs and refugees.


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