More than 100,000 coronavirus cases in the Middle East

Middle East USA World

Confirmed coronavirus cases across the Middle East increased to 107,000 on Tuesday morning. As recently as March 27 there were fewer than 50,000 cases. The largest number have been in Iran, where there are now more than 58,000 cases, according to officials, or more than half of the region’s total. Turkey has 27,000 cases. Israel has the third-most registered cases with 8,600. Coronavirus came to the region in February and rapidly spread to Iran. In late February, it was believed there were 750 cases in Qom and Tehran. Iranian authorities covered up the outbreak until they could hold March 21 elections. Iran has been rocked by the virus since then, with military and IRGC units sent to disinfect streets and aid people in need. The country views the virus as a “biological war” and has blamed the US. It also says the US should lift economic sanctions. Numerous officials and politicians have become sick and died. This raises questions about Iran’s ability to continue to export weapons across the region as part of its strategy to confront the US, Israel and Gulf states. So far, Iran appears to have continued its policy of support for Iraqi proxy attacks on the US. It is also flying in weapons to Syria and supporting Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia from Yemen. Iran is not the only major center of COVID-19. Turkey has seen a rapid increase in the virus as well, and Istanbul has become a hot spot. This is partly due to the country also trying to pretend it was “virus-free” in early March. Turkey is expanding testing and trying to control the threat. Like in Iran, the virus may cut down on Turkey’s constant military attacks on neighbors, including invasions of northern Syria and attacks on Iraq. The spread of the virus has left Turkish-backed Syrian rebels who were sent to Libya stranded. In the Gulf, massive testing and a strict lockdown have been mainstays in the UAE. Nevertheless, the number of cases there now tops 1,700. In Qatar, the number of cases is also rising past 1,600, a lot for a small country with a small population. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has more than 2,400 cases. In Jordan, a strict lockdown has been in place for weeks, enforced by the military, and there are fewer than 400 cases. Some countries appear to be doing nothing to confront the virus because of other internal conflicts. Libya, Syria and Yemen cannot confront coronavirus or even test for it in most parts of their countries. This leaves millions exposed in displaced persons camps. Some areas in the region may serve as case studies for how well lockdowns have worked. The Kurdistan region of Iraq has had a strict lockdown for weeks and very few cases. But it is unclear when that region, or Jordan or the UAE will relax measures. This illustrates that most countries know how to lockdown but don’t know what the next step is or even what their goal is in terms of the number of new infections. None of them have been able to reduce the number of new cases to zero.

Please follow and like us: