Covid-19 cases cross 1.57 million-mark in Mena

31 August 2020
Case growth appears to slow amid second wave in Iran, which comprises 23.7 per cent of all Mena infections

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 1,574,459 on 31 August, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

Countries in the GCC account for 46 per cent of all Mena infections, while Iran alone makes up 23.7 per cent of regional cases.

To date, Iran has confirmed 373,570 cases of Covid-19, with 321,421 recoveries and 21,462 deaths.

Iran reported 1,754 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, marking its lowest number of daily infections in more than three months.

Daily deaths also dropped for the seventh day to 103.

President Hassan Rouhani on 30 August called on local authorities to ramp up efforts to ensure the availability and wellbeing of healthcare professionals in Iran.

"Considering the spread of the second wave of the outbreak of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health should take the necessary measures to prevent burnout and exhaustion of the country's medical staff and, if necessary, take necessary measures to train new staff and replace them more quickly," he said.

"Those who have traveled during the recent holidays should not allow their non-compliance with protocols to cause a new escalation of the Covid-19 outbreak, and negatively affect the hard work of the medical staff."

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(31 August 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 314,821
  • Recoveries: 289,667
  • Deaths: 3,870

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 22 August: Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development defines health precautions for public sector employees to return to office work from 30 August. Remote working may be approved for employees if the number working outside the office does not exceed 25 per cent of the total workforce. 
  • 3 August: Pilgrims returning from Hajj must quarantine for 14 days and will be monitored using electronic bands to ensure compliance. 
  • 28 July: Health Ministry to assign a health leader for every 50 pilgrims at this year's scaled-back Hajj. 
  • 21 July: Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj & Umrah, Muhammad Saleh Benten, says "unprecedented" arrangements have been made for this year's scaled-back pilgrimage.
  • 17 July: Ministry of Health says it is conducting more than 65,000 tests every day. 

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 24 August: Saudi General Directorate of Passports opens four land border crossings into the kingdom for families. Citizens, their non-Saudi families (spouses and children), plus drivers and domestic help are allowed in through the Al-Khafji, Al-Rakii, the King Fahd Causeway bridge and Al-Bathaa entry points. Non-Saudi companions must show negative PCR test results taken within 48 hours of travel. All travellers are required to isolate upon arrival.
  • 18 August: Saudi Food & Drug Authority to host emergency meeting of food regulatory authorities as part of the international conferences to be held during the kingdom's presidency of the G20. The meeting aims to develop ways to drive global cooperation in the field of food legislation to ensure food safety during Covid-19, and address the challenges that countries face in tackling the coronavirus. The meeting will be attended by officials from food safety authorities in several countries, along with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Food Safety Authorities Network.
  • 15 August: Saudi Arabian schools to resume with distance learning for the first seven weeks, following which the situation will be reviewed. The new academic year is due to begin on 30 August. Exceptions will be made for university and technical school students with practical curriculums who are required to attend courses in person.
  • 12 August: Taif University reportedly earmarks SR3m for coronavirus research. Covid-19 papers including proposals to overcome Covid-19's economic, medical and social impacts were sought by the university, with 62 submissions accepted to date. 
  • 8 August: Health ministry says an action plan is being developed to implement a clinical trial for the third phase of a vaccine against the coronavirus, in cooperation with the Chinese company Cansino. The first and second phases of the trial were conducted in China. 
  • 5 August: Work begins to resume schooling in the kingdom from 30 August. Schools were closed on 9 March to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • 3 August: Saudi Customs eases precautionary measures for trucks from the GCC that are driving to the kingdom as their final destination. The Prince Mohammed bin Salman league's professional football matches are to resume.
  • 1 August: Capacity of intensive care unit beds increased by 31 per cent in Tabuk's hospitals as part of continuing measures to improve healthcare services and Covid-19 preparations in the kingdom.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 69,690
  • Recoveries: 60,600
  • Deaths: 382

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 25 August: Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee and Department of Health approve two tests to enter the emirate. The new measures will become effective 27 August, and will allow entry into Abu Dhabi within 48 hours from receiving a negative PCR test result or a negative DPI laser test result, provided it is supplemented with a negative PCR test result received within 6 days prior to entry. The same type of test cannot be taken twice in a row within 6 days.
  • 19 August: G42 Healthcare, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Group 42, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel's Nanoscent to develop Scent Check, which can detect suspected Covid-19 cases from a sample of exhaled nasal air. 
  • 18 August: The official spokesman for the UAE government, Omar al-Hammadi, says a worrying increase in the number of daily cases among citizens and residents has been noted in recent days. 
  • 17 August: Ministry of Health & Prevention opens testing centre in Mirbah, Fujairah to provide free tests for all citizens and residents. 
  • 14 August: Residents returning to the UAE must still receive approval from the General Directorate of Residency & Foreigners Affairs before travelling. Residents living elsewhere in the UAE had to apply to the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship previously, but this requirement has now been waived. 
  • 10 August: Al-Hammadi says the opening of markets, restaurants and commercial centres is mistakenly considered as the driver for the recent growth in infections among citizens, instead of home gatherings. Al-Hammadi said gatherings that are held in public places are monitored by the authorities and adopt all precautionary measures as stipulated, "unlike household gatherings, which are not monitored and preventive measures such as wearing masks are often overlooked".
  • 3 August: Health ministry, represented by the Fujairah Medical Zone, opens two Covid-19 testing centres in Umm Dibba and Fujairah Exhibition Centre. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 28 August: Mothers with children in grade six and below or those with children of determination are permitted to work remotely from home so that they can monitor and take care of their kids during the e-learning classes, the Federal Authority for Government and Human Resources says. 
  • 27 August: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, issued directives for the implementation of a work from home policy in Dubai government entities for female employees with children undertaking distance learning. Female employees will be allowed to work from home provided their job can be done remotely and does not impact the operations of the government entity they are employed in. Mothers of children in grade 9 and below including kindergarten are eligible to work from home. Female employees are allowed to work from home based on an approved school schedule and only on the days the children are attending classes remotely. Fathers without caregivers at home to oversee remote learning will also be allowed to work from home, enabling them to supervise their children during the school day. Separately, the Ministry of Education and National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority have allowed nurseries and childcare centres to reopen in accordance with special requirements and all precautionary and preventive measures.
  • 26 August: Emirates International Accreditation Centre grants Swiss diagnostic services provider Unilabs Laboratories the ISO-15189 accreditation for Covid-19 PCR testing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It makes the Swiss company the first private health institution in the UAE to receive the accreditation. 
  • 25 August: Sharjah Executive Council approves resumption of work for exhibitions and conferences held under the supervision and management of governmental institutions in Sharjah, starting from early September 2020. The council also issued a decision to extend the period of suspension of all social events, celebrations held in wedding halls, event halls, hotels, and government and community facilities until the end of October.  
  • 24 August: Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah orders exemption of trade fees for businesses closed due to Covid-19. Ras al-Khaimah Department of Economic Development will offer nurseries a 50 per cent exemption from their annual trade license renewal fees. In addition, establishments that closed to allow their facilities to be used for quarantine purposes will benefit from a 25 per cent exemption, while facilities located at Ras al-Khaimah International airport that had no alternative locations to divert operations to will benefit from a 50 per cent exemption on license renewal fees. These exemptions will be in place for a year, in addition to full exemptions being granted from penalties for violations incurred during lockdown. 
  • 19 August: Dubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Council for Humanitarian Work launch report on future trends expected in the humanitarian sector. The availability of limited resources during the economic crisis after Covid-19 will restrict donors’ capacity to fund the initiatives of various non-governmental organisations. Non-governmental organisations must review their business models, and diversify their sources of income rather than depending on a single funding stream and on public contributions, the report states. 
  • 18 August: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, reviews Ministry of Economy's post-pandemic plans. P&O Marinas, a DP World Company and local developer of marinas, holds a virtual workshop with the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing and Emirates airline to discuss the resumption of the 2020/21 cruise season in Dubai. Minister of Climate Change & Environment, Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi, says transitioning to a green economy is paramount for post-pandemic economic recovery.
  • 17 August: Supreme Committee of Crisis & Disaster Management in Dubai clarifies that residents may return to the city after they have applied for an entry permit from the General Directorate of Residency & Foreign Affairs in Dubai. A certificate must be presented proving they have tested negative in a valid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before boarding a plane and on arrival at the airport. They are also required to download the Covid-19 DXB app, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine is not required for residents that have presented a negative test result certificate at the airport. Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development says cinemas inside shopping malls in the emirate can reopen at 30 per cent of their capacity.
  • 16 August: Expo 2020 Dubai's Expo Live allocates AED3.7m ($1m) in an emergency relief fund to support innovators from its global and impact grant programme that are facing immediate financial hardships due to Covid-19. Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis & Disaster Committee for Covid-19 and Department of Education & Knowledge approve plans to reopen private schools with physical attendance for the new academic year. 
  • 15 August: UAE-headquartered Apex National Investment signs strategic commercial agreement with the Israeli TeraGroup to develop research and studies on Covid-19.
  • 12 August: Special approval will no longer be required for residents trying to re-enter the UAE, who previously required approval from the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship. Passengers must update their data, including a valid Emirates ID, passport number and citizenship, at uaeentry.ica.gov.ae prior to their return. They must also submit the results of a PCR nasal swab test from an accredited lab, and negative results of the test, taken within 96 hours of their flight, must be submitted when booking a ticket to the UAE. 
  • 12 August: Mubadala Healthcare's National Reference Laboratory (NRL) opens second Covid-19 testing facility in Dubai. The new lab is accepting samples from medical facilities in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. The NRL in Abu Dhabi is said to have delivered more than 240,000 test results to date.
  • 11 August: Mohammed bin Rashid Medical Research Institute, the UAE’s first independent biomedical research centre, is launched. The facility seeks to conduct research to address the Covid-19 pandemic and other viral diseases. It has been established with an initial investment of AED300m and is part of Al-Jalila Foundation.
  • 10 August: Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship extends deadline for holders of expired entry permits and visas for one month from 11 August, allowing them to leave the country and exempting them of all fines. Testing facility at Al-Qarayn health centre in Sharjah receives 500 volunteers for phase three clinical trials of an inactivated vaccine. 
  • 9 August: Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) and CE-Ventures distribute more than AED700,000 to 11 startups in the retail, real estate, financial technology, travel and tourism, agriculture, education, technology and creative sectors. Four rapid Covid-19 testing centres to facilitate entry into Abu Dhabi open in Dubai, Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah.
  • 8 August: Central Bank expands Targeted Economic Support Scheme after reviewing the existing thresholds of the Net Stable Funding and the Advances to Stable Resources prudential ratios by temporarily relaxing the requirements for the structural liquidity position of banks. 
  • 5 August: Ministry of Health & Prevention to start the world's first phase three clinical trials of an inactivated vaccine to combat Covid-19. The ministry has dedicated Al-Qarayen Health Centre in Sharjah as the first centre outside Abu Dhabi to register, screen and test volunteers wishing to participate in the trials. Senior Abu Dhabi health officials take second shot of inactivated Covid-19 vaccine. 
  • 4 August: National Emergency Crisis & Disasters Management Authority and the Federal Authority for Identity & Citizenship to accept Covid-19 test results from all laboratories accredited by global governments. Separately, passengers travelling to Dubai can take pre-flight Covid-19 tests from a wider list of providers after Emirates airline added a list of recognised and approved testing centres around the world where screening for coronavirus via a PCR nasal swab is provided. Passengers were previously required to take a test in a UAE-recognised clinic overseas.
  • 3 August: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, says cabinet meetings will resume in August instead of September due to the unusual circumstances. National Emergency Crisis & Disaster Management Team in Sharjah reopens all beaches in the emirate. Ajman Free Zone launches package of eight incentives that is particularly expected to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises impacted by Covid-19.  
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 51,574
  • Recoveries: 48,654
  • Deaths: 189

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 August: Friday prayers remain suspended at most mosques under Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments' plan to gradually reopen mosques in the country. Fajr (dawn) prayers will be allowed daily from 28 August, following the reopening announcement by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Friday prayers will be permitted with a limited number of worshippers at Ahmed al-Fateh Mosques. Safety regulations for Fajr prayers include leaving two metres of safe distance between each worshipper, opening and closing mosques 10 minutes before and after the prayers, requesting people to perform prayers in the mosques closest to their homes and mandating face masks. Temperature checks will also be conducted and Wudu (ablution) must be performed before going to the mosque.
  • 23 August: Health Ministry says 2,300 random tests are being conducted every day in different parts of the kingdom to identify and curb new Covid-19 cases.
  • 19 August: More than one million PCR tests have been conducted to date, Minister of Health Faeqa bint Saeed Alsaleh says. National Medical Task Force for combatting the Coronavirus (Covid-19) lifts compulsory 10-day quarantine requirement for incoming passengers that are negative for the illness following their test in Bahrain, effective 20 August. However, PCR testing for all arrivals at Bahrain International airport will continue, with travellers to pay for two tests – one upon arrival and another one 10 days after their arrival – at a total cost of BD60. They must also download and activate the BeAware Bahrain smartphone app. 
  • 17 August: Cabinet approves proposal to relocate Covid-19 quarantine and isolation centres away from residential neighbourhoods. Also approved were proposals to ensure unemployed and retired nurses, doctors and paramedics are prepared to work as volunteers if required, and to provide additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees at the Ministry of Health's medical centres. 
  • 14 August: Supreme Council of Health and National Medical Taskforce to Combat Coronavirus announce preventive measures to mark Ashura. Commemoration should be restricted to remote broadcasting, and only the mourning staff should be present at the Ma'atam community centre. Mourning staff involved in broadcasting and direct transmission should adhere to all precautionary measures, especially face masks and social distancing, and officials at community centres must record and confirm the staff names and ensure their safety through their pre-examination, in coordination with the Ministry of Health. Live broadcasts should not exceed 20 minutes in order to protect the safety of those present at the community centres. Gatherings outside community centres and in public roads are prohibited.
  • 12 August: Jameela al-Salman, member of Bahrain's National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (Covid-19), reveals more than 923,000 tests have been conducted in the country to date. Prayers at mosques, collective worship and religious assemblies will remain suspended until Covid-19's risks are adequately mitigated, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs says. Ministry of Health's public health department invites volunteers to participate in phase three trials of the vaccine that Chinese company Sinopharm is also testing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
  • 10 August: Cabinet approves a proposal to provide an isolation ward for incoming passengers that have visited countries with high Covid-19 infection rates. Chief of medical services at Salmaniya Medical Complex and member of the National Medical Taskforce to Combat Coronavirus, Nabeel Ahmed al-Asheeri, warns that several Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, adding that compliance with mandated precautionary measures is critical to avoid contracting the illness. 
  • 3 August: Ministry of Health holds additional training sessions and workshops for doctors, nurses, support staff and other medical specialists to help them understand ways of preventing and treating cases of Covid-19.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 26 August: Director of Land Ports of the Customs Affairs, Mohammed Hassan al-Isa, says Bahraini trucks will be allowed to transit to other countries via the King Fahd Causeway in Saudi Arabia.
  • 17 August: Administrative and teaching staff at Bahraini schools will resume work on 6 September and students will return on 16 September. Parents will have the option to choose between in-person or online learning.
  • 11 August: The Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launch joint project to assess the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19. 
  • 9 August: Phase three trials of Covid-19 vaccine begin in cooperation with partners from the UAE and China. 
  • 8 August: Private training institutions to reopen from 3 September.
  • 1 August: King Fahd Causeway reopens for Bahraini trucks.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 84,636
  • Recoveries: 76,650
  • Deaths: 530

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 23 August: Arrivals from Afghanistan temporarily banned. Passengers arriving at Kuwait International airport must present PCR test results valid for 96 hours instead of 72 hours. 
  • 10 August: Kuwait Municipality says 10 stores were closed in Hawally for violating Covid-19 precautions last month, while 23 fines and 2,405 warnings were issued to stores flouting safety measures.
  • 3 August: Kuwait Municipality closes 46 shops over Eid al-Adha holidays for breaching precautionary health guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • 1 August: Commercial flights to 31 countries deemed high-risk banned until further notice. The countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, China, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Iraq. Egypt Air is also halting flights to the country.
  • 26 July: Free Covid-19 tests to be offered at government hospitals for citizens and expatriates. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 August: Ministry of Interior to extend expired residency and visit visas for an additional three months from 1 September for individuals inside Kuwait. The extensions come as travel restrictions continue to be imposed in several parts of the world.
  • 25 August: Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Saud al-Harbi approves remote learning for educational facilities during the coming semester. The decision applies to all public and private schools, and is subject to revision in November.
  • 24 August: Government team led by Sheikh Mishaal Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah mandated to scrutinise the impacts of Covid-19 on the state's financial revenues as part of wider effort to rectify economic imbalances. 
  • 18 August: Phase four economic activities reopen, including beauty salons, tailoring shops, gyms and restaurants. Gyms must ensure they sanitise equipment frequently, and all citizens and expatriates must adhere to mask usage requirements while outdoors. Partial curfew from 9pm-3am remains in place, state news agency Kuna says.
  • 13 August: Phase four of economic resumption to begin on 18 August. Some activities listed as phase five, such as sporting clubs, health spas, barbershops and tailors, will be allowed to reopen alongside phase four. The partial curfew imposed on some areas will be maintained pending a revision on 20 August.
  • 3 August: Government urges citizens to buy health insurance to cover the costs of treatment should they travel. Citizens and expatriates returning to Kuwait are required to provide a PCR test not older than 72 hours, as well as to quarantine for 14 days at home. 
  • 28 July: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) says airlines operating at Kuwait International airport will start commercial flights to 20 countries on 1 August. The airlines that will start operating are those of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ethiopia, the UK, Turkey, Iran, Nepal, Switzerland, Germany, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and India, DGCA's director of the air transport department, Abdullah al-Rajhi, said.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 85,544
  • Recoveries: 80,459
  • Deaths: 677

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 16 August: Phase 2 of the national investigative survey on Covid-19 in the sultanate begins. The 10-week study will be conducted in four stages, each lasting five days, with intervals of two weeks between the sessions. 
  • 12 August: Oman Society for Petroleum Services signs memorandum of understanding with Tabreed Oman to fund Covid-19 tests. 
  • 5 August: Lockdown to end on 8 August as scheduled. Night-time movement ban from 9pm-5am confirmed for 8-15 August. Dhofar governorate to remain in lockdown until further notice.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 25 August: Supreme committee for Covid-19 announces reopening of barbershops and salons after more than five months of closures. Muscat Municipality says some salon services will continue to be suspended, however, as will parties and social gatherings, local newspaper Times of Oman reports. Restaurants, gyms and conference rooms inside hotels are also allowed to reopen under the sixth phase of Oman's economic resumption programme. People below the age of 12 and over the age of 60 are not allowed inside certain premises, and wearing masks is mandatory. Two metres of safe distance must be maintained, restaurants must use disposable cutlery and electronic payments are being encouraged.
  • 13 August: Supreme committee for Covid-19 announces new academic year from 1 November for students, with teaching staff to begin work from 27 September. A system of "merged education" will be endorsed for all schools, which means students will attend some classes at their respective schools, while other lessons will be taught online in accordance with basic terms and regulations to be issued by the Ministry of Education.
  • 11 August: Oman plans to import the Covid-19 vaccine from various countries once its effectiveness has been proven, Oman's health minister, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Saidi, was cited as saying by Times of Oman.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 118,575
  • Recoveries: 115,430
  • Deaths: 197

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 August: Teaching and administrative staff will be tested for Covid-19 prior to the beginning of the new academic year. E-schooling will be adopted for the 2020/21 academic year, which starts on 1 September, with the education ministry specifying system requirements for students' devices. 
  • 19 August: Ministry of Education and Higher Education changes three-phase plan to resume 2020/21 academic year. The new plan will apply blended learning during the first semester of the next academic year based on feedback from the Ministry of Public Health. The move aims to mitigate the academic impact of school closures and delayed academic year resumption on students. Schools may fill up to 30 per cent of their capacity and must observe social distancing. University students will attend classes at 30 per cent capacity daily between September to November. 
  • 17 August: Starting 18 August, passengers visiting Qatar from Istanbul must present a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 48 hours of their arrival. 
  • 12 August: Ministry of Public Health updates list of low-risk countries for passengers. The new list of countries includes Brunei, Thailand, China, New Zealand, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Finland, Norway, Italy, Denmark, the UK, Germany and Japan, among a total of 40. The list will take effect on 15 August, and passengers travelling from any of these 40 countries must take a Covid-19 test at the Qatari airport, formally pledge to self-quarantine for a week and get retested at the end of that week.
  • 12 August: Health ministry launches pilot project for Covid-19 environmental testing, as part of which surface, air and wastewater samples will be checked for traces of the coronavirus. It is expected to help Qatar detect the presence of the virus and monitor its potential spread, particularly through the concentration of the virus in wastewater. Qatar also expects the screening programme to support its supply chain and testing operations during the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
  • 8 August: Negative Covid-19 test result mandatory for passengers from airports in Bangladesh, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Russia, Qatar Airways says. Tests must be issued within 72 hours before departure, from laboratories that are approved by Qatar Airways, and must be paid for at the passenger's expense. Individuals that do not show their medical test certificate and a consent form will not be permitted to travel on Qatar Airways flights. 
  • 3 August: New quarantine policies for individuals entering Qatar take effect. Those arriving from low-risk countries must take a Covid-19 test in Qatar unless they have results from an accredited testing centre from less than 48 hours before travel. They must also formally pledge to quarantine at home for a week and be tested again at the end of the week. Passengers travelling from countries not listed as low-risk and without accredited Covid-19 facilities must stay in mandatory quarantine at a hotel for seven days. Discover Qatar has launched special packages for these travellers.
  • 22 July: Doha says travellers from low-risk countries must undergo a second test and their quarantine period will end if results come back negative. However, if the traveller tests positive, they will be transferred to a government facility for isolation.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 30 August: Spa activities, massage services and indoor swimming pools to resume from 15 September with reduced capacity, Ministry of Commerce and Industry says. Occupancy rate of men's hairdressing salons and women's beauty centres raised to 50 per cent of normal capacity, and spa activities, massage services, jacuzzi, Moroccan and Turkish bath services, and indoor swimming pools with 30 per cent of normal capacity in hotels.
  • 26 August: Supreme Committee for Crisis Management splits Phase 4 of economic resumption into two parts, the first of which will begin on 1 September and the latter to begin in the third week of September. Under the first schedule of Phase 4, mosques will reopen with toilets and ablution areas to remain closed, workplaces in the public and private sectors will allow 80 per cent of staff in offices, weddings with 40 indoor and 80 outdoor guests will be permitted and cinemas will reopen at 15 per cent capacity for those aged over 18. Public transport and personal boat rentals will resume at 30 per cent capacity, and sports may resume with 20 per cent of indoor or 30 per cent of ourdoor capacity. Malls will reopen at 50 per cent capacity and food courts at 30 per cent capacity, with children allowed too enter. Souks and wholesale markets may operate at 75 per cent and 50 per cent capacity, respectively.
  • 17 August: Qatar Airways to operate 13 flights to India on 18-31 August as part of the "air bubble" established between both countries. 
  • 2 August: Qatar residents who were stranded abroad following the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown can now apply to return to the country, Indian daily Matrubhumi reports.
  • 27 July: Third phase of economic resumption begins. Gatherings will be limited to 10 people in closed spaces and 30 in open spaces as part of this phase. Qatar Airways grounds A380 fleet until it is commercially and environmentally viable to operate again.
  • 22 July: Ministry of Public Health's list of low-risk countries – to be reviewed every two weeks – currently comprises 40 countries including China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Italy, the UK, France, Germany, Greece, Algeria, Turkey, Morocco, Canada and Switzerland, among others.
  • 21 July: Citizens and permanent residency visa holders allowed to travel from and return to Qatar. Residency visa holders may start returning from 1 August, and all arrivals from low-risk countries are required to take a coronavirus test at the airport and sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week. Low-risk travellers are not required to be tested at the airport if they have results from an accredited test taken within 48 hours prior to their arrival.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 373,570
  • Recoveries: 321,421
  • Deaths: 21,462

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 22 August: President Hassan Rouhani warns of third wave of Covid-19 if health precautions are not abided by.
  • 18 August: National Library & Archives of Iran in Tehran closed until further notice to curb the spread of Covid-19. The library had reopened in June after it was first closed in February. 
  • 15 August: Rouhani calls for lifestyle changes to co-exist with Covid-19, adding: "Fortunately, in many provinces, such as Khuzestan, Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan, we have seen good performance in fighting coronavirus, and a declining trend has begun in these provinces."
  • 11 August: President Rouhani calls for precautions to be abided by during Muharram and reiterates the country's focus on producing a vaccine.
  • 9 August: Rouhani says it is not feasible to implement severe anti-coronavirus restrictions in Iran, particularly as Covid-19 may persist for six months or until a vaccine is developed, since they "lead to depression and tensions in the society", Tehran Times reports. "Until we obtain a vaccine that is effective and get a sufficient quantity of it [...], we will be confronting this situation," he said, adding that continuing to observe health protocols remains a top priority.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 30 August: President Hassan Rouhani calls to ramp up availability and wellbeing of healthcare professionals: "Considering the spread of the second wave of the outbreak of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health should take the necessary measures to prevent burnout and exhaustion of the country's medical staff and, if necessary, take necessary measures to train new staff and replace them more quickly."
  • 27 August: Rouhani says the government is working on an economic roadmap for the country, adding: "The government's goal is to implement the economic roadmap to repair the damages caused by the unprecedented sanctions and the outbreak of coronavirus."
  • 17 August: Rouhani gives assurances about national healthcare capacity, adding that another 10,000 general and 2,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds will be added by the end of 2020. 
  • 10 August: Rouhani pledges to resolve economic challenges at a meeting of the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination. A proposal by an economic task force to counter oil sanctions and manage liquidity was discussed during the meeting. 
  • 27 July: Managing director of Iran's Food & Drug Administration says Actemra medicine, based on the tocilizumab drug, is being manufactured by a local company after the US' Food & Drug Administration said it may help recovery in Covid-19 patients. Actemra will not be available in Iranian drugstores and will be reserved for severe in-hospital cases. Permits have yet to be issued for its local use, news agency IRNA reported.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 98,727
  • Recoveries: 72,120
  • Deaths: 5,399

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 August: Health Minister Hala Zayed warns of second wave of Covid-19 due to lax behaviour of some citizens, such as failing to wear masks.
  • 23 August: Health Ministry creates different routes and areas within hospitals for Covid-19 patients. Health Minister Hala Zayed says the Arab country has passed its first wave of Covid-19. 
  • 15 August: Visitors to Egypt must submit negative Covid-19 tests before entering the country, except Arab and foreign tourists coming by direct flights to the airports of South Sinai’s Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba, and Red Sea’s Hurghada and Marsa Alam, as well as Matrouh in northern Egypt.
  • 12 August: Health ministry urges voters to comply with Covid-19 precautions while going out to cast their ballot. Senate elections started on 10 August. 
  • 11 August: Head of anti-coronavirus scientific committee, Hossam Hosni, calls for precautions to be abided by and warns that a second wave of infections is expected during the coming winter season, Egypt Today reports.
  • 4 August: At least 256 cafes, nine educational centres and 9,912 shops have been shut down for violating Covid-19 precautionary measures. Egypt Today reports 66,836 public transport drivers have been arrested for failing to wear a mask.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 August: Cooperation agreement to be signed with Chinese company for Covid-19 vaccine in September. Egyptian Holding Company for Biopharmaceuticals and Vacsera will represent Egypt in the agreement.
  • 22 August: Tourism ministry says archealogical sites will reopen on 1 September. 
  • 19 August: Decree approved on Egypt's $50m emergency response funding agreement with the World Bank under the latter's Fast-Track Covid-19 Facility. 
  • 16 August: Third batch of the exceptional allowance allocated to irregular workers to cope with Covid-19's economic impact to be distributed between 16 and 20 August. The first and second batches of the allowances were distributed in May and June. The third batch is worth E£800m.
  • 9 August: New academic year to begin on 17 October. 
  • 7 August: All travellers to Egypt by land, sea and air must arrive with a certificate proving that they have tested negative for coronavirus using a PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their arrival. The decision takes effect from 15 August.
  • 27 July: Head of health ministry's Covid-19 committee, Hossam Hosny, reportedly warns that the second wave of the illness could hit Egypt in November, adding that the country is ready for all scenarios. He said that the ministry now has a large stock of covalescent plasma as well.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 231,177
  • Recoveries: 172,880
  • Deaths: 6,959

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 16 August: Higher Committee for National Health & Safety amends the partial curfew to 10pm-5am daily and bans all travellers from entering Iraq for tourism.
  • 9 August: Deputy Minister of Health, Hazim al-Jumaili, says Iraq has yet to hit its peak of Covid-19 infections: "The daily coronavirus infections are still registering large numbers [and sometimes] exceeding 3,000, and this indicates that the citizens are not abiding by the instructions of the Health Ministry and the High Committee for Health & National Safety." Health restrictions to be observed during Muharram will be discussed at the end of this week. 
  • 8 August: Partial curfew extended until 15 August. Higher Committee for Health & National Safety, headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, also decides to permit 25 per cent of employees to work in government offices. "The recent increase in the number of infections is due to the visits by the citizens that violate the preventive measures, particularly during the Eid al-Adha holiday," said Riyadh Abdul-Amir, head of the ministry's public health department.
  • 5 August: Deputy Minister of Health Hazim al-Jumaili calls for greater adherence to precautionary measures, adding: "The current figures of infections and deaths are not expected and the citizens were supposed to abide by wearing masks, personal protection, social distancing and preventing gatherings to cross the pandemic crisis. Every day, many gatherings occur and there must be deterrence."
  • 2 August: Iraqi aviation authority suspends flights to and from Turkey to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • 27 July: Health Ministry official tells local newspaper Al-Sabaah that implementing a partial ban may continue to be necessary after Eid al-Adha holidays. Full curfew confirmed on 30 July-9 August.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 5 August: Al-Jumaili says return to normal life "is not on the table at the moment, but the Higher Committee for Health & National Safety, headed by Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi, will review the situation.
  • 16 July: Airports will be allowed to open on 23 July and malls are to reopen soon provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines and health precautions. Lockdown hours will be reduced and will be in effect from 9pm-5am, and the total curfew will be revised after the Eid al-Adha holiday. Al-Mundhiriyah, Safwan and Al-Shaib border crossings are to reopen for trade and commercial exchange, Iraq's Higher Committee for Health & Public Safety says. 
  • 13 July: Health ministry said to have provided 300 ventilators to medical institutions.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,966
  • Recoveries: 1,468
  • Deaths: 15

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 30 August: Thirteen buildings isolated in Amman after new Covid-19 cases were detected.
  • 29 August: Education Ministry issues guidelines for use of masks in schools, adding students that are unwell with flu-like symptoms will not be permitted to attend classes.
  • 27 August: Administrative governors instructed to detain for 14 days the organisers of events and social gatherings comprising more than 20 guests. Comprehensive curfew to be imposed in Amman and Zarqa from 11pm today until 11pm on Friday. E-permits will not allow movement within the governorates, with the exception of individuals in essential sectors. Culture Ministry suspends Jerash Festival ceremonies, and the possibility of holding union elections is being evaluated. 
  • 24 August: Sahab city isolated to curb Covid-19. Curfew hours inside the city will last from 8pm until 6am, while educational facilities, markets, parks and mosques will be closed. The King Abdullah Industrial City in Sahab will continue to operate. Outside Sahab, movement bans will be in force from 11pm to 6am and businesses will not be allowed to operate between 10pm and 6am. Total lockdowns will be imposed on Fridays in areas with outbreaks, UAE newspaper the National reports. Public hospitals across Jordan have suspended visiting hours as a precautionary measure.
  • 19 August: Rusaifa Municipality closes sports city and public parks after Covid-19 case emerges. Prime Minister Omar Razzaz warns against flouting precautions amid 'alarming' growth in case numbers, and calls on healthcare officials to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Minister of State for Media Affairs, Amjad Adaileh, denies rumours that Omari border with Saudi Arabia has been closed, adding any schools that have a Covid-19 case will be closed down. Jordan expects to reopen schools on 1 September and universities on 1 October. Jaber border closure is extended for one week. 
  • 15 August: Razzaz calls for tightening curbs at Omari border to "prevent any violations that could adversely impact [Jordan's] epidemiological situation". Northern Ramtha district to be placed on indefinite lockdown from 17 August to curb Covid-19 cases. The curfew will run from 8pm-6am, but businesses will be allowed to open outside the curfew hours. 
  • 12 August: Prime Minister Razzaz issues a circular prohibiting any employee or visitor from entering ministries, public departments and institutions without wearing masks. Interior ministry closes Jaber border from 13 August. Jordan's shared border with Syria will be closed for one week to curb Covid-19 infections. 
  • 11 August: Minister of Industry, Trade & Supply, Tareq Hammouri, announces amendment of the curfew hours to 12am for individuals and 11pm for economic establishments based on the government matrix to measure Covid-19 risks. 
  • 10 August: Minister of State for Media Affairs, Amjad Adaileh, says Defense Order No. 11 was reactivated on 8 August due to a "lack of seriousness" in compliance with public health safety measures, including the size of gatherings, physical distancing and the use of masks.
  • 6 August: Repatriation of Jordanians from abroad to begin on 15 August. Citizens will be expatriated via flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Manama, Doha, Kuwait, Jeddah, Riyadh, Cairo, Budapest, Moscow, Nur Sultan, Frankfurt, New York, Chicago and Istanbul. 
  • 4 August: Curfew hours are reextended to start at 1am instead of 2am and working hours for businesses must end at 12am, with citizens not allowed to leave their houses after 1am. The government had previously decided to reduce the curfew by one hour during the Eid al-Adha holiday. Airport reopening is also delayed based on the recommendation of the National Committee for Epidemics. Airports will remain open to Jordanian citizens being expatriated and for non-Jordanians to leave, but are unlikely to fully reopen before mid-August.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 August: Vaccine trial centre linked to the UAE's programme with Sinopharm, also comprising Bahrain, opens in Amman. 
  • 25 August: Plans to reopen schools from 1 September are in place, with learning models to be deployed based on the severity of Covid-19 cases in neighbourhoods where schools are located as well as whether the facilities can fulfill social distancing requirements.
  • 24 August: Health Minister Saad Jaber says Jordan has signed agreements with a group of British and US companies that have reached advanced stages in the production of a Covid-19 vaccine, and is working to obtain information about the Russian vaccine announced by President Vladimir Putin on 11 August. Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh says all private sector employees must download and activate the Aman contact tracing app. Ramtha lockdown is lifted. 
  • 23 August: Tourism minister discusses increasing number of hotel rooms for expatriates to quarantine in. 
  • 17 August: Government is studying plans to reopen schools. Some sectors, including education, may be moved from the green (low risk) to the blue (moderate risk) level to enable their safe operation. Schools are due to open on 1 September and universities in early October. Total closures and bans have been ruled out for now, with the government planning to isolate or close buildings and localities as required to curb the spread of Covid-19. European Union National Institutes for Culture Jordan, with financial support from the EU, creates an emergency fund for cultural operators grappling with financial pressure due to Covid-19.
  • 16 August: List of sectors most affected by the coronavirus crisis is updated based on Defence Order No. 6, which regulates wages for the month of August. Sectors covered by the updated list of 24 includes tourism, construction, public transport, leisure and schools.
  • 10 August: Adaileh denies speculation and "inaccurate news" about Jordan reimposing a partial or total lockdown, adding that economic reopening since June has followed a matrix that adequately measures risks in each sector. "We are currently going through the moderate-risk phase, and there is no intention or direction to impose the lockdown, whether overall or partial, arbitrarily," he said, adding that any lockdowns would have a high economic and social cost.
  • 9 August: Prime Minister Razzaz issues Defence Order No.15, which stipulates the expansion of social security programmes to include workers in the public sector by allowing them to obtain financial advances that will be repaid upon retirement without interest. The decision also includes exemptions for private sector companies that have outstanding social security payments, Roya News reports.
  • 7 August: Guidelines have been issued for the resumption of schools, with morning assemblies to be cancelled and breaks to be shortened, Minister of Education, Tayseer al-Nuaimi, says.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 16,870
  • Recoveries: 4,693
  • Deaths: 160

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 August: General mobilisation extended until 31 December to curb Covid-19. Caretaker PM Hassan Diab says the public mobilisation drive is necessary "to protect people from a dangerous and frightening situation with its consequences".
  • 18 August: New lockdown and overnight curfew to be imposed for two weeks from 21 August. The curfew will last from 6pm-6am, and malls will be closed. Restaurants will be restricted to delivery services, and social gatherings will be banned. Beirut airport will operate normally and ministries will be staffed at half capacity. Areas where recovery work is under way following the Port of Beirut blasts are exempted from new restrictions. 
  • 17 August: Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, calls for nationwide lockdown, adding: "Face masks are a matter of life or death, so people must wear them everywhere they go." Hassan's recommendation for a two-week lockdown excludes Beirut, and calls for special procedures to be implemented at the Port of Beirut, where blast recovery work is under way.
  • 13 August: Hassan announces the extension of the state of emergency in Beirut for one month.
  • 10 August: Hassan says Minister of Interior & Municipalities, Mohammad Fahmi, and Lebanese Army Commander, Joseph Aoun, have been contacted to discuss the isolation of some districts due to a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases. This excludes Beirut, where clean-up activities are under way.
  • 27 July: Hassan slams lack of compliance with precautionary measures and confirms the country will reimpose a two-week lockdown from 30 July. Arab News reported he added that the community outbreak of the disease was beginning to take a “dangerous turn” and he regretted “the lack of community discipline and disregard for all preventive measures imposed on people.” Passengers arriving through Beirut International airport must carry a negative Covid-19 test result from their port of departure and will have to stay in quarantine for two days at their own expense in special centres, pending the results of a second PCR test at the airport.
  • 14 July: Fines ranging from £Leb550,000 to £Leb5m said to have been introduced for individuals not wearing masks.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 August: President Michel Aoun says reopening restaurants is vital for tourism and services revenues, but public health priorities will dictate when the sector may reopen. Aoun's statement comes after AFP reported Lebanese restaurant owners stating they would reopen their facilities in defiance of lockdown measures implemented since last week.
  • 19 August: UK sends 238,530 pieces of personal protective equipment to help "overstretched hospitals" in Beirut deal with Covid-19 patients, state news agency NNA reports. The World Health Organisation will distribute the face masks, overalls, gloves, goggles and gowns to hospitals across the city. 
  • 17 August: Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, recommends that the World Bank's $40m financial support to the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, approved on 12 March, is used to pay private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients. Field hospital construction was also approved for north and south Lebanon. 
  • 12 August: World Health Organisation requests $76m to support Lebanese efforts to combat Covid-19 after the explosions at the Port of Beirut leave 500 to 600 beds unavailable in public and private hospitals. At least half of 55 healthcare clinics and centres surveyed in Beirut are said to be non-functioning.
  • 11 August: Health ministry within caretaker Lebanese government meets with Lebanese University official to discuss how the educational institution can support PCR testing operations for arrivals to the country, allowing the ministry to focus on increasing resident tests. 
  • 24 June: Reopened Rafik Hariri International airport to reduce number of flights from countries where the PCR tests are not available to passengers to 20 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Arab News reports. Flights from countries that have the test will be at 80 per cent of previous levels. Those arriving from countries with PCR tests must produce the results, which must be less than four days old, during check-in. All passengers must be tested at Beirut airport.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 61,399
  • Recoveries: 46,355
  • Deaths: 1,111

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 August: Beaches in Fahs-Anjra province closed to curb Covid-19. Baccalaureate exams will be held with adequate safety measures, with remote education being considered for the academic year's resumption.
  • 20 August: Morocco could return to a complete coronavirus lockdown as cases continue to spike, King Mohammed VI says. An emergency decree giving authorities leeway in restoring restrictive measures has been extended until 10 September.
  • 19 August: Cafés and restaurants in the El-Youssoufia province must close at 9pm, while commercial premises and local retail spaces must shut at 10pm and 3pm respectively. Public gardens, hammams, sports fiels and gyms have been closed until further notice. All measures are effective for a week and may be renewed.
  • 16 August: Markets and souks must close at 5pm in Marrakech, with capacity restrictions set at 50 per cent. In the Sidi Youssef Ben Ali, Hay Hassani, Hay Mohammadi, M'hamid, Menara, Jemaa Fna and Kechich areas, movement is limited unless it relates to work, health or essential shopping. Restaurants and cafés in these seven neighbourhoods must close at 10pm. 
  • 8 August: Laayoune Port closed until further notice to avoid a second wave of Covid-19.
  • 6 August: State of emergency extended until 10 September as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19. Governors and local walis have also been given the right to take all necessary measures to preserve public health orders, including the right to impose an optional or compulsory sanitary lockdown or temporary restrictions urging people to stay home. 
  • 4 August: Lockdown to be reimposed in Tangier-Asilah and Fez as Covid-19 continues to spread in both provinces. All gatherings are banned, and shops, cafes and commercial centres should close at 10pm. Restaurants must close at 11pm, and public transport in both cities will operate at 50 per cent capacity. Beaches and public spaces such as gardens, sports complexes and fields are also closed. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 August: Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research urges administrative and health readiness ahead of new academic year, due to begin on 7 September for all grades, public and private schools and foreign missions in Morocco.
  • 19 August: National Fund for Social Welfare Organisations (CNOPS) says it will reimburse the costs of medical services linked to Covid-19 for its insured members. 
  • 17 August: Morocco will participate in clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Khalid Air Taleb says. European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) to provide MD430m loan to Spanish Caixa Bank's Moroccan branch to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and fund the bank's expansion outside the Casablanca-Rabat axis. 
  • 13 August: Special fund for Covid-19 formed by King Mohammed VI records revenues of MD33.7bn and expenses of MD24.7bn as of end-July.
  • 11 August: EBRD announces support for small businesses and trade in Morocco with a $47m financing package to Credit Immobilier et Hotelier (CIH). The EBRD will provide a $23.4m loan for the CIH to provide as medium-term financing to private SMEs, increasing the availability of funding beyond the Greater Casablanca-Rabat region, where 70 per cent of the Moroccan economy is concentrated. The remaining amount will be provided as a trade finance line to help facilitate the export and import transactions of Moroccan businesses.
  • 10 August: Flag carrier Royal Air Maroc says special flight programme will continue until 10 September. Passengers on flights to Morocco must have a negative PCR test conducted in the past 48 hours, as well as the results of their serological tests. Children under the age of 11 are not required to have tests, but wearing masks is mandatory for all passengers.
  • 7 August: Tourism industry operators will be provided incentives provided they retain 80 per cent of their workforces. Employees impacted by Covid-19 will continue to receive a stipend of MD2,000 dirhams ($200) per month, while operators will receive tax and loan payment deferments and eased access to bank loans, North Africa Post reports.
  • 6 August: Ministerial decision issued to reopen schools from 7 September. It has yet to be decided whether lessons will be delivered in-class, digitally or through any other model. 
  • 4 August: Qatari charity contributes to Morocco's Covid-19 response fund, which King Mohammed VI ordered the creation of in mid-March with initial funds of MD10bn. 
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 13,423
  • Recoveries: 1,410
  • Deaths: 232

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 26 August: Four-day curfew, starting at 6pm, imposed from 26 August. This will be followed by a 10-day 9pm-6am curfew, with Fridays and Saturdays set for 24-hour curfews. Social events are banned and public transport and market services remain suspended. Public work capacity limited to 30 per cent after the total curfew ends, local media reports. 
  • 11 August: Government of National Accord's (GNA) education minister-designate, Mihammed Emmari, says plan to resume schools and universities will be announced shortly. Previous plans to resume school activity on 8 August were cancelled based on medical advice, and online learning was expected to continue until secondary school exams ended in October.
  • 10 August: Mayor of Abu Salim Municipality and chairman of the Emergency Crisis Committee, Abd Arahman al-Hamdi, forms subsidiary committee comprising seven members to coordinate emergency plans and responses as local epidemiological situation worsens. Head of Libyan National Centre for Disease Control, Badr al-Deen Najjar, says case numbers are rapidly growing in Tripoli, Misrata and the southern region of the country. 
  • 7 August: Tripoli government extends curfew, including the 24-hour weekend curfew and the ban on intercity travel, until 17 August, and masks are made mandatory in public. An LD500 fine with the possibility of the withdrawal of a trading licence and the shutting down of the commercial premises for a month will be imposed for not mandating mask-wearing. Libya Herald reports an LD250 fine can be imposed for not wearing a mask on public transport, and breaking the curfew can attract a LD1,000 fine and the closure of a commercial office for two months.
  • 29 July: Curfew extended for five days from 5 August and movement to be prohibited between 9pm and 6am. Closures were also announced over the Eid al-Adha break. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 August: Primary schools said to reopen on 12 September, while secondary classes will resume from 29 August. Final exams for secondary school students have been planned for 3-15 October.
  • 13 August: Tripoli is reportedly ready to reopen its borders with Tunisia if adequate precuationary measures are implemented. National Centre for Disease Control in Libya recommends the provision of PCR tests at Tunisian borders. 
  • 10 August: Government of National Accord's (GNA) health ministry receives shipment of 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits from Belgium. 
  • 9 August: Ministry of Health says critical medical supplies, including Covid-19 testing kits and PCR testing devices, have reached Matiga International airport to support national efforts to curb Covid-19.
  • 9 July: African Development Bank grants $480,000 to Libya under the Special Relief Fund for the procurement of personal protective equipment.
  • 8 July: National Oil Corporation lifts force majeure at the Es-Sider oil terminal. Export resumption was blocked after guards prevented a tanker from being loaded.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 3,685
  • Recoveries: 1,562
  • Deaths: 76

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 27 August: Curfew imposed in Kef governorate. Education, health and other social ministries agree on anti-coronavirus protocol ahead of the 2020/21 academic year's commencement. The health protocol provides for monitoring and quarantine for suspected cases as well as disinfection of spaces, mainly sanitary facilities, once to twice a day. Awareness campaigns targeting pupils and students are scheduled, in addition to sessions for psychological assistance.
  • 26 August: Curfew in El-Hamma and Gaves governorate extended until 3 September, and face masks mandated across the country, with violators of mask usage to be fined TD1,000-5,000. 
  • 24 August: Tunisian Navigation Company says passengers from Tunis to the port of Marseille must present a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure.
  • 21 August: One-week curfew imposed in El-Hamma.
  • 17 August: Mobile military lab starts operating at Gabes, with interim Health Minister Mohamed Habib Kechaou urging locals to comply with precuationary measures to control the number of Covid-19 cases in El-Hamma, a town within the Gabes governorate. 
  • 11 August: France, Belgium and Iceland moved to "orange zone" list of countries, starting 15 August. Arrivals from these nations must now present a negative PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to their trips. Passengers from "green zones", in which the three European countries were previously classified, are not required to present negative test results. Tunisia has also mandated the use of masks in airports, railways, the port of La Goulette, hospitals, clinics and supermarkets. 
  • 10 August: Committee to curb Covid-19 expected to table a proposal today to the interim health minister, asking that negative PCR tests are mandated for all passengers to Tunisia, including those from green zone countries initially exempt from the measure. 
  • 8 August: A legal provision mandating the use of face masks in closed spaces will be issued next week, director of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, Nissaf Ben Alaya, says. Several new infections in Tunisia had been detected due to citizens returning from green zone countries, Tunis Afrique Press (TAP) reports.
  • 27 July: New measures announced for arrivals from abroad. Members of the same family coming from countries not classified on its green or orange safety lists, must go through mandatory isolation. Passengers from a country on the orange list travelling without a Covid-19 test result will be in quarantine for at least three days until the Tunisian health ministry completes testing. As of 23 July, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland were part of Tunisia's green list. The orange list of countries according to the the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, covers 44 countries, including Canada, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, Lebanon, Senegal and Cameroon.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 29 August: BFPME CEO Labid Zaafrane says high cost of debt will not help SME entrepreneurs to develop and expand their companies.
  • 21 August: Small cabinet meeting recommends providing hospitals with additional sanitisers and masks to contend with Covid-19. 
  • 19 August: Houssine Bouzaiene hospital in Gafsa receives laboratory to detect Covid-19. Ben Alaya says asymptomatic Covid-19 cases will be allowed to self-isolate if their homes meet health requirements. 
  • 18 August: New school year to begin on 15 September. Health protocols for schools and universities will be completed soon. 
  • 15 August: Army medical team of 45 medics and paramedics starts setting up field hospital in El-Hamma. The military hospital team will also establish a mobile microbiology laboratory to conduct 100 Covid-19 tests a day.
  • 14 August: Tunisian General Labour Union's administrative committee to grant TD100,000 financial aid to each health facility in El-Hamma (Gabes) and Kairouan.
  • 4 August: Health official said to deny that border re-closures are being considered as Covid-19 cases increase. Border closures may not be enough to curb Covid-19's spread, Nissaf Ben Alaya, director general of the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases, said to Al-Jawhara Radio according to Xinhua. She instead recommended that individuals comply with requirements such as social distancing and the use of masks.
  • 21 July: World Bank says international support package with macro-financial assistance from the EU for Tunisia will total $600-700m this year. The World Bank has approved $175m to support the reform package.
  • 13 July: Tunisia is negotiating delaying its debt repayments with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and Italy, and plans to arrange a new deal with the Washington-based IMF in four months. Deferral request comes as Tunisian economy braces for budget deficit to widen to 7 per cent of the GDP, Finance Minister Nizar Yaich says.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 44,146
  • Recoveries: 30,978
  • Deaths: 1,501

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 8 August: New curfew hours to be in place until 31 August, government says. The decision covers the Boumerdes, Souk Ahras, Tissemsilt, Djelfa, Mascara, Oum el-Bouaghi, Batna, Bouira, Relizane, Biskra, Khenchela, M’sila, Chlef, Sidi Bel Abbes, Medea, Blida, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Tipaza, Ouargla, Bechar, Algiers, Constantine, Oran, Setif, Annaba, Bejaia, Adrar, Laghouat and El-Oued provinces.
  • 7 August: Curfew hours reduced to 11pm-6am, with the ban on road traffic for passenger vehicles from and to 29 provinces impacted by the curfew also lifted.
  • 26 July: Partial lockdown measures to be implemented for 15 days in 29 provinces to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  These will take effect from 28 July and include a curfew from 8pm-5am, as well as a ban on road traffic from and to the provinces.
  • 9 July: Road movement ban implemented for one week from 10 July in provinces including Boumerdes, Souk Ahras, Tessimsilt, Djelfa, Mascara, Oum El Bouaghi, Batna, Bouira, Relizane, Biskra, Khenchela, Msila, Chlef, Sidi Belabbes, Medea, Blida, Bordj Bou-Arreridj, Tipaza, Ouargla, Bechar, Algiers, Constantine, Oran, Setif, Annaba, Bejaia, Adrar, Laghouat and El Oued. Public transport was also barred over the weekend.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 August: Government endorses draft executive decree allowing the maintenance of interest rate subsidies on loans granted by banks and financial institutions in favour of companies and individuals in difficulty because of the coronavirus pandemic. Minister of Finance also informs government of a draft presidential decree setting out the specific measures to adapt public procurement procedures to contend with the pandemic's impact. 
  • 18 August: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announces plan to revive the national economy and diversify away from oil and gas revenues. Key initiatives include reducing imports and stopping the import of fuel from 2021. Around $14bn will be allocated to finance investment projects in the months ahead, and Tebboune is also encouraging the formation of private banks and transport companies in the country.
  • 2 August: Tebboune signs decree amending and supplementing penal code, with new provisions including those for the protection of medical staff in the public and private sectors against verbal and physical attacks. The decree also provides for a sentence of one to three years for any verbal assault; three to 10 years for any physical abuse, depending on the seriousness of the act; and a life sentence in case the person attacked dies. For material losses, a sentence of two to 10 years will be handed out, in additional to fines of AD3m.
  • 27 July: Tax payments said to be suspended for state and private sector firms impacted by Covid-19. Loans will also be rescheduled for companies hit by losses due to restrictions to curb the pandemic. 
  • 18 July: Committee said to be established to assess the impact of the pandemic on the national economy.
  • 17 July: Algeria is planning a law to protect health workers after an increase in “physical and verbal attacks”, Gulf News reports. 
  • 9 July: State's special insurance to be granted to medical professionals directly involved with Covid-19 treatment.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 1,953
  • Recoveries: 1,123
  • Deaths: 564

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–6am has been imposed in all cities of the province, and 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: 

  • 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 intensive care units. Additionally, we still need food aid, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.”
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,703
  • Recoveries: 614
  • Deaths: 109

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 16 August: Ministry of Interior said 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. 
  • 10 August: First case of Covid-19 among residents of Al-Hol camp causes concern among relief workers. As many as 43,000 children will be impacted by an outbreak in the camp, Save the Children warns.
  • 5 August: Only critical staff, with personal protective equipment (PPE), are allowed to operate inside Al-Hol internally displaced people's camp in Al-Hasakah governorate as cases mount in the country, including in the healthcare sector. 
  • 23 July: Local authorities in northeast Syria reinstate partial curfew, including the banning of all mass gatherings such as weddings and funerals, with restaurants limited to take-away service only. Borders are to close from 24 July. 
  • 7 May: Syria postpones parliamentary elections for second time from 20 May-19 July as preventive measure to curb the spread of Covid-19.
  • 2 April: Syrian authorities seal major shrine that Iranian pilgrims are known to visit.
  • 29 March: Ban on commuting between provinces and all other urban and rural areas takes effect.

Financial measures to minimise the economic crisis:

  • 24 June: Syrian health ministry receives new batch of medical aid from China, including testing kits, protective suits, face masks, goggles and infrared thermometers.
  • 25 May: Damascus eases lockdown restrictions to support economic growth, but repatriation flights put on hold as recently returned Syrians are treated.
  • 3 May: President Bashar Al Assad says Syria could face a "real catastrophe" if Covid-19 cases grow.
As of 10.30 GST, 31 August 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during July 2020.

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