There has been a significant increase in cases in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, with large increases expected in Lebanon and Morocco, the agency said.
The proliferation of coronavirus cases in several Middle Eastern countries could have dire consequences, exacerbating the spread of the Delta variant and the low availability of vaccines, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
After eight weeks of declining cases and deaths, the agency said there have been significant increases in cases in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, with large increases expected in Lebanon and Morocco.
Next week, countries across the region will celebrate Muslim Eid al-Adha, which traditionally brings together religious and social gatherings where infections can spread.
“The WHO is concerned that the current rise in COVID-19 could continue to peak in the coming weeks, with catastrophic consequences,” the agency’s regional office said in a statement.
The WHO said the lack of adherence to public health and social measures and “increased community outreach” and the spread of low vaccination rates and the spread of new variants were to blame.
The agency noted that Tunisia is the country with the highest coronavirus death rate in the region and in Africa, and noted that daily cases have almost doubled in Iran in the first four weeks of July.
Overall, the number of COVID-19 cases in the eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Djibouti and the Middle Eastern states, was more than 11.4 million.
More than 223,000 have been reported dead, he added.