King announces Morocco's Covid-19 vaccination drive

10 November 2020
Rabat says the 'massive campaign' will be launched in the coming weeks

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 2,949,372 on 10 November, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

Countries in the GCC account for 32.7 per cent (963,319) of all regional cases, while Iran makes up 23.5 per cent (692,949).

Wider Mena nations excluding Iran make up 43.8 per cent (1,293,104) of the 2.9 million confirmed cases.

On 9 November, Morocco's King Mohammed VI announced a nation-wide vaccination plan against Covid-19 in the coming weeks.

The king said the decision was baed on advice from the National Scientific Committee.

A press release carried by state news agency MAP said the vaccine's safety, efficacy and immunogenicity have been proven through completed and ongoing studies, but it did not specify which vaccine would be used.

Morocco accounts for 9 per cent of all confirmed cases in the Mena region, and has to date reported 259,951 cases of Covid-19, with 212,905 recoveries and 4,356 deaths.

Rabat's campaign comes after the US-German pharmaceutical team of Pfizer and Biontech working on a Covid-19 vaccine announced their trials had achieved a success rate of 90 per cent in effectiveness against infection.

The official statement said that the North African country was able to obtain "an advanced rank in the supply of the vaccine", which it did not identify, due to clinical trials it was able to participate in "thanks to the king's personal involvement". 

Morocco is participating in clinical trials of a vaccine by Chinese company Sinopharm, which has agreed to provide Rabat with 10 million doses before end-2020 if the vaccine is effective.

The vaccination campaign will first target frontline workers from the health sector and security forces, as well as the elderly.

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(10 November 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 350,984
  • Recoveries: 337,788
  • Deaths: 5,559

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 2 November: Health ministry warns of second wave of Covid-19. Hani Joukhadar, the ministry’s undersecretary for public health, said second waves were already prevalent in parts of Europe, adding: "In Saudi Arabia, we expect an increase in cases as the weather is changing and more people are encouraged to go out and gather in homes. We also notice that people are less committed to wearing masks in public places."
  • 18 October: President General of the Grand Holy Mosque & Prophet's Holy Mosque Affairs, Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz al-Sudais, inaugurates disinfection and sterilisation device at the Prophet’s Holy Mosque and Al-Rawdah Al-Sharifah.
  • 12 October: Ministry of Health calls on patients with uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cirrhosis and coronary artery disease, among others, to postpone Umrah plans as Covid-19 risks persist. 

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 27 October: Cabinet approves plan to allocated SR500,000 ($133,340) for families of health workers who died from Covid-19. The grant will apply to those who worked in both public and private sectors, civilian or military and to all nationalities, and recorded their infection from 2 March onwards. 
  • 25 October: Ministry of Hajj & Umrah issues guidelines for Umrah performers from outside Saudi Arabia, who will be permitted to conduct the pilgrimage under the third phase of the kingdom's programme from 1 November. Pilgrims aged 18-50 years will be permitted, and they must provide a PCR examination certificate with a negative result received within 72 hours before the time of departure to the kingdom. Pilgrims must also have prior reservation to perform Umrah and prayers in the Grand Mosque and to visit other holy sites.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 143,289
  • Recoveries: 138,959
  • Deaths: 515

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 4 November: Abu Dhabi Crisis, Emergencies and Disasters Committee updates the requirements to enter the emirate, as part of efforts to enhance the preventative measures for the early detection of Covid-19. Residents and visitors who enter Abu Dhabi emirate from 8 November and stay for four or more consecutive days will be required to take a PCR test on the fourth day of entry. If they stay for eight or more consecutive days, they must take another PCR test on the eighth day. Entry must be within 48 hours of receiving a negative PCR or DPI test result. The current PCR test required on day six will not be mandatory for those entering from 8 November, and volunteers in Covid-19 vaccine trials are exempt from the measures.
  • 2 November: Khalifa University of Science and Technology says a team of researchers at its Aerospace Research and Innovation Centre is developing a reusable 3D-printed mask as a potential replacement for standard N95 masks that are in short supply following the Covid-19 pandemic. A prototype has already been printed and once completed, an assessment will be performed before it gets qualified and approved.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 8 November: Mubadala Healthcare says it is part-funding the trial of an immune-dampening drug in the UK that will help patients with diabetes overcome the effects of the virus. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Agency approved the trial, known as Arcadia, following preclinical research that suggests a glucose kinase activator (AZD1656) could help diabetes patients with Covid-19 by dampening the overactive response of the immune system that is typically acute in those patients with raised blood glucose levels. The trial commenced on 29 September, and involved hospitalised patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms. If successful, the compound could ultimately be prescribed by a primary care physician for people with diabetes presenting with early Covid-19 symptoms.
  • 4 November: Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, chairs the first meeting of the National Covid19 Crisis Recovery Management and Governance Committee. The committee's working plan was presented and working groups were identified for target sectors that include health, education, food, society, security and the economy. The proposal for a strategic plan for recovery from Covid-19 was also reviewed. 
  • 3 November: Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan al-Qasimi, Crown Prince, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council, approves the second stimulus package of Sharjah government incentives. The value of the second stimulus package is AED512m. Incentives in the first package were estimated at AED481m. 
  • 2 November: Dubai Economy reveals it has conducted a workshop exploring how the public and private sectors can collaborate and co-shape the healthcare sector in the city following the global Covid-19 outbreak. Separately, Al-Jalila Foundation awards AED2.5m in seed grants to five UAE-based medical researchers focused on Covid-19. The Covid-19 research grants in the areas of genetics, therapies and diagnosis are the first to be awarded under the remit of the recently inaugurated Mohammed Bin Rashid Medical Research Institute to help enhance the UAE’s capacity to address the pandemic and other viral diseases in the future. The UAE's Central Bank, meanwhile, reviewed the Targeted Economic Support Scheme that aims to reduce the impact of Covid-19 by easing financing burdens in the country. To date, the loan deferment scheme has supported more than 10,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises and 1,500 private sector companies.
  • 1 November: The Ajman Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Team allows the resumption of wedding celebrations and other occasions held in halls, hotels and houses in the emirate from 1 November. Major General Sheikh Sultan bin Abdullah al-Nuaimi, commander-in-chief of the Ajman Police and chairman of the team, said that the decision stipulates that the number of invitees should not exceed 200 in venues and 50 in celebrations held at home, while only five people are allowed to sit on the same table, stressing that all participants must adhere to the precautionary measures adopted by the country, such as wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 83,632
  • Recoveries: 81,225
  • Deaths: 329

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 3 November: Bahrain authorises the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine among frontline healthcare workers in direct contact with active Covid-19 cases. The approval follows similar efforts in the UAE last month.
  • 1 November: The Ministry of Health suspends classes at the Al-Rawabi Private school as a precautionary measure for 10 days from 2 November. Online classes will be held during the period.
  • 26 October: School Health Department at Bahrain's Education Ministry starts round of daily inspection visits to all schools to determine the safety of the precautionary measures they will roll out during the partial return of students. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 3 November: Health Ministry to sell rapid antigen test in pharmacies across Bahrain, with a ceiling price of BD4. The Covid-19 rapid antigen test provides results in 15 minutes with an accuracy rate of 93 per cent.
  • 2 November: Cabinet approves draft budget for 2021-22 fiscal year, which estimates revenues of BD2.28bn and BD2.33bn in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Overall deficit is estimated at BD1.2bn in 2021 and BD1.1bn in 2022. Manama said its Fiscal Balance Programme had achieved goals set for 2019, but lowered oil prices and "the unprecedented economic impact of Covid-19 on non-oil revenues has increased the overall deficit". 
  • 23 October: Labour & Social Development Minister, Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, issues circular stipulating the re-opening of Labour Ministry-licensed nurseries on 25 October amid strict precautionary measures. 
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 132,478
  • Recoveries: 123,314
  • Deaths: 816

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 23 October: Health ministry says allegations of patients being denied hospital admission are "divorced from reality", adding that citizens and residents must continue to adhere to precautionary measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 3 November: Kuwait carrier Jazeera Airways is revealed to have laid off 200 staff in September, with the move predominantly covering pilots and cabin crew. The airline had let go of 300 staff in March.  
  • 28 October: Cabinet handpicks seniors, patients with chronic diseases, medics, front-liners and providers of basic services as major categories to be vaccinated against Covid-19 once the country takes delivers of a first shipment of vaccines.
  • 21 October: Passengers arriving in Kuwait via a transit destination may no longer have to undergo PCR tests or quarantine at the stopover destination and may instead be tested directly upon arrival. Kuwait Airways chairman, Ali al-Dakhan, said the proposal is awaiting approval from health and civil aviation authorities. Al-Dakhan said the move could allow flights to operate on a 24-hour basis and improve the state-backed airline's revenues. Kuwait Airways plans to resume flights to Saudi Arabia from 25 October.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 118,503
  • Recoveries: 108,968
  • Deaths: 1,310

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 1 November: Supreme committee managing Covid-19 says arrivals to Oman must undergo a PCR test within a period of not more than 96 hours prior to entry time. They should also undergo the same test upon arriving in Oman, observe a seven-day quarantine period and repeat the PCR test on the eighth day. 
  • 25 October: Ministry of Education says all students except those in grade 12 will start the new academic year through remote learning. Grade 12 students will attend classes on a weekly basis. 
  • 21 October: Supreme committee tasked with managing Covid-19 response expresses "extreme anxiety" about individuals flouting precautionary measures and urges compliance to reduce instances of infections. The authority also confirmed that the ongoing night-time lockdown will end on 24 October.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 1 November: Ministry of Finance announces the Fiscal Balance Plan 2020-2024 in response to the slump in oil prices and Covid-19. 
  • 28 October: Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Saeedi, Minister of Health and member of the supreme committee tackling Covid-19, says 1,800,030 doses of a vaccine under development have been reserved for Oman as a first batch, adding that he hoped the consignment would arrive before end-2020 and that second batch will include 1.8 million doses of the vaccine as well. Separately, Said bin Mohammed al Saqri, Minister of Economy, issues decision stipulating the formation of a working team to devise policies and programmes to stimulate the national economy. The team will propose policies and economic programmes to activate the national economy and macro-economy under the circumstances posed by the pandemic.
  • 21 October: Supreme committee confirms new academic year will begin on 1 November and approves blended learning model for students. 
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 134,433
  • Recoveries: 131,490
  • Deaths: 232

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 21 October: Chairman of National Strategic Group on Covid-19 and head of Hamad Medical Corporation's infectious diseases division, Abdullatif al-Khal, says schools will be closed for two weeks if three Covid-19 cases are detected in the same class, or if 5 per cent of students or staff are infected. The number of cases among school students is less than 1 per cent of the total national tally, he said, adding: "Epidemiologists in Qatar do not expect a new wave but the picture will become clear about the possibility of a new wave of the virus during the next four or eight weeks."

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 19 October: Qatar Development Bank's (QDB) Covid-19 response package, launched as part of the government's programme to support local businesses, has received an additional QR2bn, taking its total value to QR5bn, according to local daily newspaper the Peninsula. QDB's package was launched as part of Doha's QR75bn financial stimulus programme and has been extended until 31 December. Guarantees have been issued to 3,500 companies so far as part of the QDB scheme. In May, the bank told companies operating in the contracting and construction sector to utilise the package. 
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 692,949
  • Recoveries: 525,641
  • Deaths: 38,749

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 5 November: President Hassan Rouhani announces severe restrictions for two weeks in red zones, understood to cover 25 provinces.
  • 31 October: Rouhani says all so-called third and fourth grade activities, which are mainly related to education and gatherings on various occasions, will be forbidden for the next 10 days. Restrictions already approved for 43 cities are also extended. New restrictions will be applied for 10 days in 25 provinces and 46 cities from Wednesday.
  • 24 October: Rouhani says compliance with precautionary measures is essential, adding: "Currently, there is no way to fight this virus other than observing health protocols."
  • 22 October: National Task Force for Fighting Coronavirus calls to cut number of government employees in Tehran's offices by 50 per cent until the end of the month, and imposes an additional week of strict restrictions in 43 critical status cities.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 21 October: Rouhani calls on vice president and head of the Plan & Budget Organisation, Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, to fulfil all demands by local nurses "with high priority". 
  • 19 October: Rouhani says the government performs 25,000 Covid-19 tests a day and will soon fund the cost of an additional 15,000 daily tests. He added that Iran could purchase up to 20 million testing kits if required, "but in the meantime, we will buy as much as necessary".
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 109,422
  • Recoveries: 100,439
  • Deaths: 6,380

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 3 November: Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad says the government is preparing to take tough action against individuals and companies flouting Covid-19 precautionary measures. This includes a £E4,000 fine on those not wearing masks in designated areas, closing schools for 28 days if a Covid-19 case is detected and increasing the amount of flu vaccine available for the public from 500,000 shots to 2.5 million.
  • 2 November: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly calls on citizens to comply with precautionary measures and warns of "difficult steps similar to those applied before", such as lockdowns, if Covid-19 regulations continue to be flouted. 
  • 1 November: Health Ministry launches precautions that schools must follow to curb the spread of Covid-19. "In case infection rates rise, the decision to shift to online education for the semester will be taken," Education Directorate director Mohammed Attia said.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 2 November: South Korean government's Official Development Assistance fund provides $200,000 to improve facilities at El-Salhya El-Gedida Central hospital in the Al-Sharqiah governorate. Seoul provided $200,000 cash to fund emergency health response activities in Egypt this May, and followed it with $500,000-worth of medical supplies such as test kits and face masks in August. Separately, Minister of Health and Population, Hala Zayed, says Cairo's Vacsera has prepared a production line for a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine after it is approved. Egypt and China are collaborating on three vaccines under development. 
  • 28 October: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says Egypt is keen to work with Russia on the joint manufacture and production of Moscow's Covid-19 vaccine. 
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 501,733
  • Recoveries: 432,233
  • Deaths: 11,380

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 25 September: Flights to Iran will be suspended for 15 days over coronavirus concerns. The decision includes "all direct flights from local airports to the airports of the Islamic Republic of Iran, after the announcement of detecting coronavirus cases in some Iranian areas", authorities said.
  • 5 September: Health ministry warns it may "lose control" of the pandemic if people do not comply with precautionary measures. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 8 November: Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, agrees to start new academic year from 29 November, and authorises the payment required for purchasing the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi).
  • 26 October: Isolation ward developed in partnership between the Karbala Governorate and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq opens. Constructed by UNDP and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid), the 20-bed ward is part of the Al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Karbala and will serve a catchment area of approximately one million people.
  • 22 October: White Paper for Economic Reforms prepared by the Crisis Cell for Financial & Fiscal Reform is formally approved by Baghdad. Covid-19 is listed among the factors causing Iraq's economic decline, and the white paper includes proposals to boost the economy over the medium and long term.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 114,986
  • Recoveries: 9,033
  • Deaths: 1,295

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 1 November: Health Minister Nazir Obeidat says the ministry is planning to establish three field hospitals for Covid-19 patients in the northern, central and southern parts of the kingdom. "The ministry is in the final stages of signing a contract with a private hospital in Amman, and will provide about 200 regular beds and about 40 others for intensive care." Separately, the government will extend curfew hours as of 2 November, as part of which businesses will be allowed to operate until 9pm and public movement will be permitted from 6am until 10pm, Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh said. Fitness centres and public swimming pools, including those in hotels, residential and tourist complexes, as well as entertainment and recreational cities and children's indoor play areas, are also closed until further notice.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 8 November: Obeidat says the transfer of Covid-19 patients from government hospitals to rented private hospitals will begin at the end of the week, noting that the private sector will provide the medical sector with about 1,050 beds and 180 intensive care beds. The government has signed a contract with a private company specialized in building field hospitals, under the supervision of the Audit Bureau and the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission, to develop three field hospitals in the country's north, central and south regions.
  • 6 November: Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) announces the cancellation of scheduled flights resulted in tickets refunds of around JD35.4m due to the lockdown that was imposed since March. The company has entered into discussions with aircraft lessors and lenders to reschedule its leases and loan payments due during the lockdown period.
  • 5 November: Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) says it has allowed the beneficiaries of the JD500m Finance Facilitation Programme for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to postpone their loan payments to the end of 2021. The CBJ said the programme's implementation controls have been altered by the Jordan Loan Guarantee Corporation to allow banks to extend the grace period given to SME customers until the end of 2021. The JD500m Finance Facilitation Programme would help SMEs obtain affordable funding to cope with the negative effects of Covid-19 and stem potential job losses, the CBJ said.
  • 3 November: Ministry of Health inks agreement with the Private Hospitals Association to allocate at least 1,000 beds and 150 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients who will be referred to private hospitals by public hospitals if needed. Prices have been capped to reduce the burden on the ministry.
  • 2 November: Civil Service Bureau says it has appointed 200 doctors, 500 nurses and 25 lab technicians to the Ministry of Health, and another 100 doctors will undergo procedures to take jobs in public hospitals, all as part of efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic. Among the appointees were 100 doctors, 330 nurses and 25 lab technicians in Amman, and the rest filled vacancies in Balqa, Zarqa and the central region. The additional 100 doctors will join public hospitals in the northern Irbid governorate and in the south of Jordan.
  • 1 November: The European Union (EU) has committed $50m to support the World Health Organisation's (WHO) efforts to strengthen primary health care services under the Jordan Health Programme for Syrian Refugees and Vulnerable Jordanians. The WHO said that the funds will support the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic while expanding access to services to vulnerable Jordanians and Syrian refugees.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 95,355
  • Recoveries: 51,728
  • Deaths: 732

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 7 November: Caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, says a detailed study has been requested from caretaker Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, to decide whether the country must re-enter a complete lockdown. 
  • 1 November: Hassan cautions against flouting critical precautionary measures, adding: "Today, we are at a very dangerous juncture and we have approached the catastrophic scene. Responsibly, the losses can be reduced and the epidemic deterioration taking place can be avoided."
  • 11 October: Interior Ministry shuts bars and nightclubs until further notice and enforces local lockdowns on 169 villages and districts across the country, up from 111 earlier this month. The ministry also underscored the importance of complying with the 1am to 6am curfew and the use of masks.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 30 October: Hassan discusses implementation of a twinning programme that was previously launched between 11 government hospitals and five private university hospitals, as part of which the latter will train the medical and nursing intensive care staff of government hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients. Under this programme, the World Health Organisation will provide support to government hospitals by purchasing services with specific contracts within a time limit to provide the existing departments with qualified human cadres, provided that private university hospitals provide training in return.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 259,951
  • Recoveries: 212,905
  • Deaths: 4,356

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 9 November: King Mohammed VI announces nation-wide vaccination plan against Covid-19 in the coming weeks. The king said the decision was baed on advice from the National Scientific Committee. The vaccination campaign will first target frontline workers from the health sector and security forces, as well as the elderly. A press release carried by state news agency MAP said the vaccine's safety, efficacy and immunogenicity have been proven through completed and ongoing studies, but it did not specify which vaccine would be used. The official statement said that the North African country was able to obtain "an advanced rank in the supply of the vaccine", which it did not identify, due to clinical trials it was able to participate in "thanks to the king's personal involvement".
  • 5 November: The government council decides to extend the state of health emergency across the national territory from 10 November to 10 December as part of efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic. 
  • 3 November: A total lockdown may be imposed if the health situation becomes uncontrollable, head of government Saad Dine el-Otmani, says, adding: "None of us, officials or citizens, want a return to total lockdown, in view of its social, economic and psychological repercussions, but it remains a possible option if the epidemiological situation becomes uncontrollable."

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 4 November: African Development Bank approves $138.5m (MD1.2bn) grant to support Morocco's response to Covid-19. The funding constitutes an extension of the Social Protection Improvement Support Programme approved in end-2019 with a value of around $214.8m. The support programme will allow the acquisition of 666 additional resuscitation beds in order to reach a total capacity of 1,350 equipped beds. It will also provide Morocco with sufficient screening tests and provide pharmaceutical products and devices, with emergency technical platforms to be upgraded for 78 hospitals.
  • 20 October: Ministry of Health is allocated almost MD20bn in the appropriation bill for the year 2021, to fund Rabat's Covid-19 response. The solidarity contribution fund, meanwhile, will be limited to companies with net profits exceeding MD5m, Minister of Economy, Finance & Administration Reform, Mohamed Benchaaboun, says. 
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 69,040
  • Recoveries: 40,780
  • Deaths: 944

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 14 October: General manager of Benina airport in Benghazi, Abdalla al-Shafee, denies reports that the facility will commence flights to Tripoli on Friday. He reportedly added that 17 conditions need to be resolved before the airport can reopen, including the appointment of a specialised disinfection company; repairs to security machines; overdue staff payments; and the need for buses, forklifts and fuel. Airlines are also unwilling to fly at half-capacity, as required by the Libyan Anti-Coronavirus Committee, Libya Herald reported.
  • 7 September: Head of the National Centre for Disease Control, Bader al-Din al-Najjar, says health centres are under extreme pressure in Tripoli, calling for citizens to comply with precautionary measures and help curb the virus. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 23 October: State-held National Oil Corporation (NOC) announces lifting of force majeure at Sidra and Ras Lanuf ports, adding instructions have been given to initiate production arrangements.
  • 11 October: NOC lifts force majeure on the Sharara oilfield, which can pump as much as 300,000 barrels a day.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 71,569
  • Recoveries: 48,103
  • Deaths: 1,920

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 4 November: Field hospital at Kram Exhibition centre will shortly open for Covid-19 patients, Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi says. It has 100 ICU and 400 oxygen-fitted beds, and will commence operations with 30 beds. Another hospital is under development in Sfax, and the 18 ICU- and 160 oxygen-bed hospital will open soon. Mehdi says a decree will be issued to establish a telemedicine platform and offer remote patient care.
  • 31 October: Only French nationals and Tunisian expats are allowed to travel through the Goulette port to Marseille as of 3 November, in compliance with the decision announced the previous day by French authorities, the Tunisian Navigation Company says. 
  • 30 October: Ministry of Youth, Sports and Professional Integration extends the suspension of official matches in all disciplines until 15 November.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 8 November: Two field hospitals will be set up in the Errimel and Mami beach areas in anticipation of an increase in Covid-19 cases, the local health director in Bizerte, Jameleddine Saidani, said. The Errimel hospital will have 50 beds. 
  • 4 November: Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi announces series of urgent measures to limit the economic and social impact of Covid-19 on professionals in the cultural and artistic sectors. He decided, in particular, to reschedule the debts of artists, creators and cultural institutions, under contributions to the social security system. The retirement allowance of professionals, namely artists, creators and intellectuals, will also increase to double the amount usually allocated to each member. In order to meet the needs of these groups and various workers in the sector, additional funds will be released before the end of 2020, bringing the overall value of the allocations to $2.1m (TD6m). The new measures also provide for relaxing procedures in connection with the reimbursement of contributions for professionals in the sector.
  • 3 November: The Health Ministry is considering the possibility of seeking the help of some of the estimated 3,000 Tunisian doctors working abroad, Mehdi says. The ministry will review the mechanisms to bring them to Tunisia as part of medical missions, but priority will be given to increasing recruitment. The ministry has signed contracts with anaesthesia and intensive care graduates to increase its manpower. Separately, UAE sends 11 metric tonnes of medical supplies and ventilators to support 11,000 medical professionals in Tunisia. 
  • 1 November: A fundraising campaign for the purchase of ventilators to be used in the intensive care unit and the Covid-19 unit at the Local Hospital of Tozeur organised at the initiative of the coordination committee for the promotion of the health sector in Djerid. The campaign, which started a week ago, has achieved only 10 per cent of its goals despite the growing number of people testing positive, member of the coordinating committee Salem Ben Salma said.
  • 30 October: A government decree defining the exceptional measures relating to calls for tender for the Ministries of Defence and Health linked to Covid-19 is published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia. According to this decree, the Ministries of Defence and Health and the institutions under their authority may conclude public contracts relating to the fight against the coronavirus through direct negotiations with one or more suppliers selected on the basis of their competence and their ability to respond to requests within the specified deadlines, to avoid the lengthy procedures governing public contracts. The decree also allows the Ministries of Defence and Health and their institutions to acquire equipment, materials, medicines and medical supplies and to provide them with services according to the choice of the public purchaser through the organisation of an "extended consultation" of suppliers authorised to participate in the consultation phase by submitting technical and financial offers within a maximum period of 10 days.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 62,693
  • Recoveries: 42,325
  • Deaths: 2,062

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 9 November: President of the National Agency of Health Security, Kamel Sanhadji, urges compliance with precautionary measures, failing which cases have spiked in Algeria. Sanhadji said Algeria is not witnessing a second wave of Covid-19, which would scietifically require that the virus mutates or changes its characteristics, which is not presently visible in the country. 
  • 8 November: The start of the new academic and vocational training years has been postponed until 15 December, the Prime Minister’s Office said. The postponement of the start of the academic year, initially scheduled for 22 November, is part of the system adopted by the public authorities in the management of the health crisis. Partial lockdown hours also have been readapted from 8pm to 5am in 29 provinces for 15 days from 10 November. The amendment marks a revision of existing lockdown measures in 20 provinces and the introduction of curbs in nine others, including Adrar, Guelma, Illizi, Tindouf, Tissemsilt, El Oued, Khenchela, Tipasa and Ain Temouchent. Nationally, using urban public and private transport is also prohibited during the weekends.
  • 5 November: Government decides to immediately implement an emergency action plan to contain the spread of Covid-19 during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad. This action plan will focus on tighter prevention measures, a more efficient communication strategy and the rigorous implementation of regulatory coercive measures. Algiers also plans to supply hospitals with equipment, PCR and antigen tests, protective equipment, oxygen supply and additional beds to ramp up treatment capacity.
  • 4 November: Djerad warns of "severe" measures if Covid-19 cases increase as schools reopen in Algeria, adding that health protocols established by ministries and local authorities must be adhered to. 
  • 27 October: Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments calls on citizens "to strictly respect" the preventive measures in place to curb Covid-19 during the upcoming religious holiday.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 25 October: Director general of the Institut Pasteur d'Alger (IPA), Fawzi Derrar, says Algeria will receive rapid antigen testing kits in the coming days, adding Algiers plans to widen and standardise access to the tests across the country by March 2021, and increasing the number of private laboratories approved to run PCR tests.
  • 19 October: Ministry of Energy plans urgent measures to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19, including the reduction of investment budgets for national oil and gas companies, Sonatrach and Sonelgaz, respectively, with the aim of saving AD150bn. The ministry has also considered reorganising both businesses so they focus on their core operations, modernising their management systems and optimising investment costs. The ministry also plans to reduce the operating budget of both public enterprises by 17 per cent, or AD182bn. Sonatrach and Sonelgaz are estimated to have faced losses of AD10bn and AD18.7bn between September 2019 and 2020 due to energy market trends and Covid-19.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,071
  • Recoveries: 1,394
  • Deaths: 605

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 4 May: Public areas including government buildings, markets and mosques to be sprayed with disinfectant as local authorities move to curb Covid-19.
  • 11 April: Authorities in the southeast Yemen province of Hadramout move to curb Covid-19 in the port city of Al-Sheher by imposing further measures, where the country’s first case was announced on 10 April. A curfew from 6pm to 6am has been imposed in all cities of the province. Hadramout governor, Faraj Salmen al-Bahsani, has urged residents to comply with the measures and stay indoors as much as possible.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 7 October: Unicef says primary schools have reopened following months of closures. Preventive sanitary measures have been implemented and school schedules have been rearranged to avoid overcrowding.
  • 2 June: International donors pledge $1.35bn in aid for Yemen. Saudi Arabia's contribution totals $500m, with the UK offering $200m and Germany contributing $140m.
  • 18 May: Yemen’s Health Minister, Nasser Ba’aom, and Minister of Local Administration, Abdul Raqib Fatah, appeal for international aid. “We need personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, ventilators, finance for the medical workers who work in the Covid-19 centres,” Dr Ba’aom said, according to UAE newspaper the National. “We also need medical equipment such as a complete biological units, testing kits, field hospitals and beds for the ICUs. Additionally, we still need food aid, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.”
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 6,284
  • Recoveries: 2,405
  • Deaths: 321

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 21 October: Ministry of Health launches campaign to distribute protective clothing and run more frequent Covid-19 testing for healthcare workers as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus. Influenza test kits will also be provided and healthcare workers in direct contact with Covid-19 patients will be tested for antibodies.
  • 16 August: Ministry of Interior set to issue new regulations for travellers to and from Lebanon. Those entering Syria from Lebanon must present Covid-19 negative test results taken 96 hours prior to their arrival. The decision applies to truck drivers, diplomatic passport holders and aid workers, among other groups. Lebanon-bound passengers from Syria must present test results taken 24 hours prior to their flight. 

Financial measures to minimise the economic crisis:

  • 24 October: Syria receives medical assistance from the World Health Organisation. The shipment, which arrived at Damascus International airport, includes personal protection equipment for health workers, medicines and medical supplies.
  • 21 October: President Bashar al-Assad issues decree approving an exemption on income tax amid tightening economic conditions. The decree covers all public and private sector workers. It exempts those earning £Syr50,000 ($40) or less a month from paying income tax and reduces the level of taxes paid in the lowest income bracket. Exemptions were previously offered for those earning less than £Syr15,000, according to a decree in 2015. Minister of Finance, Kinan Yaghi, said the authority had also secured resources to disburse grants to citizens, and has called on banks not to charge fees until these grants have been issued. 
  • 1 October: Flights out of Damascus International airport resume after six months of closures. Syrian Airlines will fly from Damascus International airport to regional locations, including Cairo and Beirut, and resume a weekly flight to Khartoum, Sudan. It will also schedule ad-hoc flights to Kuwait.
As of 09.30 GST, 10 November 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during October 2020.

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