In the Islamic Republic only 49 deaths yesterday, for a total of 149. Israel is considering mandatory quarantine for all entrances. Riyadh closes schools. New victims also in Iraq. In Syria, the humanitarian situation in Idlib is worrying, where an appearance of the virus would have catastrophic effects.
Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The alarm for the new coronavirus is growing in the Middle East, from Iran where the worst toll is recorded in terms of victims and infections, to Saudi Arabia which has closed down an entire province.
In Egypt, the first victim is registered, a 60-year-old German tourist, while international agencies raise the alarm for the north-west of Syria where the humanitarian situation is collapsing and an appearance of the virus would have catastrophic effects.
Yesterday Lebanon confirmed four new cases of Covid-19, bringing the overall balance to 32. One hundred possible suspects were investigated yesterday and 19 of these were subjected to quarantine. As for the condition of the patients, three are in defined critical conditions while the others are judged to be stable.
In Iran, the death toll is worsening with 49 new deaths yesterday, as confirmed by the Ministry of Health which speaks of the "highest number in 24 hours" since the beginning of the epidemic.
According to spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, "at least 149 of our compatriots died, fewer only in China - where the epidemic originated - and Italy. The number of people infected yesterday was 743, for a total of 6566 in 31 provinces. With 1805 cases, the capital Tehran remains the one with the highest number of infections.
Saudi Arabia made four new coronavirus cases official this morning, bringing the grand total to 15. Hence the decision to suspend all educational activities in schools and mosques, including Koranic schools, to curb a possible spread. Yesterday Riyadh also ordered a temporary blockade at the entrances and exits in the Shia-majority eastern province of Qatif, rich in oil and the epicenter of the outbreak in the Wahhabi kingdom.
Qatar has imposed a temporary ban on entry for citizens of 14 nationalities as of March 9: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka are targeted. Syria and Thailand. Qatar Airways has already suspended all flights to and from Italy. Yesterday, the authorities confirmed three new cases, bringing the grand total to 15.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday announced a further crackdown on entry into the country, which could involve all nations. Visitors to a dozen countries are now undergoing a mandatory quarantine of at least 14 days. The number of cases rose to 39 from 25 on the previous day, although no victims have yet been registered. 80 thousand people are subjected to precautionary and voluntary isolation, returning from abroad. The premier added that they are considering "a quarantine for everyone".
In Iraq, the total number of victims rose to six, with two new deaths recorded yesterday. The total number of infected people is 54.
Finally, international agencies raise the alarm for the humanitarian situation in northwestern Syria, particularly in the Idlib region, where an appearance of the new coronavirus would have devastating effects.
Hedinn Halldorsson, a spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO), says that there are still no cases in the country, but "the fragile health system may not be able to identify the infections and respond adequately".