Middle East Nations Implement Strict Measures to Tackle COVID-19

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Iran, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East and one of the hardest-hit countries in the world, on Wednesday announced an additional 147 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the overall toll to at least 1,135. An Iranian Health Ministry spokesman also confirmed nearly 1,200 new cases, raising the total number of infections in the Islamic Republic to more than 17,000. He noted, however, that some 5,000 people had recovered after contracting the illness. Meanwhile, in Jordan, the army has been deployed to monitor the entrances and exits of main cities, a move taken prior to the declaration of a state of emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus. At least 34 cases have been diagnosed in the kingdom. In Lebanon, authorities raised the number of coronavirus cases to 133. At least four people have died there from COVID-19, two less than in Egypt, where 196 infections have been confirmed. Cairo has ordered the lockdown of “touristic” governates and suspended all flights in and out of the nation starting Thursday until the end of March. For its part, Saudi Arabia has restricted prayers in all mosques except for Islam’s two holiest, Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Riyadh has reported 171 coronavirus cases, but no resulting deaths. Earlier this week, Bahrain confirmed the first fatality due to the pathogen in the Gulf region, where more than 1,000 cases have been confirmed, including 113 in the United Arab Emirates. Finally, Iraqi authorities have confirmed 11 deaths from among a minimum of 154 cases of COVID-19 and imposed a week-long total shutdown that began Tuesday night.

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