Covid-19 cases cross 2 million-mark in Mena

29 September 2020
The GCC accounts for more than 40 per cent of all confirmed infections in the region

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 2,001,699 on 29 September, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

 

The GCC region accounts for 41.1 per cent of all infections in the Mena region, with 822,940 cases.

Saudi Arabia accounts for 40.5 per cent of cases in the GCC, with 333,648 confirmed cases to date, alongside 317,846 recoveries and 4,712 deaths.

On 28 September, Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, said the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also approved a plan to exempt investors in municipal spaces from paying 25 per cent of rental fees.

Meanwhile, the registration of Umrah pilgrims for the first 10 days has also been completed, the Mecca emirate tweeted yesterday.

Around 16,000 Saudi nationals and expatriates signed up for the Umrah pilgrimage in the first few hours of the launch of the I’tamarna mobile application.

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(29 September 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 333,648
  • Recoveries: 317,846
  • Deaths: 4,712

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 28 September: Saudi Arabia, which is presiding over the Group of 20 countries this year, says the upcoming November gathering of world leaders will be held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 24 September: General Authority of Civil Aviation suspends flights to and from India, Brazil and Argentina, among the world's worst-hit countries for Covid-19. 
  • 16 September: Limited international flights resume. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) said in a statement that non-Saudi nationals are not permitted to enter the kingdom unless they provide a negative Covid-19 test conducted less than 48 hours before arrival. Travellers should also quarantine for three days after their arrival.
  • 1 September: Future Investment Initiative conference, scheduled for 28-29 October 2020, is deferred until 26-28 January 2021. 
  • 22 August: Ministry of Human Resources & 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. 

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 28 September: King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approve plan to exempt investors in municipal spaces from paying 25 per cent of rental fees. The decision will help 50,000 facilities deal with the economic effects of coronavirus by relieving them of payments worth $151.9m. Registration of Umrah pilgrims for the first 10 days completed. The Umrah pilgrimage and the visit to the Two Holy Mosques will commence in phases. In the first phase, citizens and expatriates will be allowed to perform Umrah from 4 October at 30 per cent capacity – equating to 6,000 Umrah performers per day.
  • 27 September: Official tourism targets for 2021 remain unchanged, and the government will expand the sector to make up 10 per cent of economic output by 2030 as planned, Tourism Minister Ahmed al-Khateeb says.
  • 7 September: Saudi General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) extends validity of re-entry visas for expatriates stranded abroad until 30 September. No fee will be charged for the month-long extension, which includes expats that are in the kingdom but whose entry/exit visas expired due to Covid-19-related travel restrictions. 
  • 24 August: Jawazat opens four land border crossings into the kingdom for families. Citizens, their non-Saudi spouses and children, plus drivers and domestic help are allowed in through Al-Khafji, Al-Rakii, the King Fahd Causeway bridge and Al-Bathaa entry points. Non-Saudi companions must show negative polymerase chain reaction (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 & 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.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 92,095
  • Recoveries: 81,462
  • Deaths: 413

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 28 September: Dubai Tourism orders entertainment to stop at 1am to stop spread of Covid-19.
  • 25 September: Dubai Municipality issues new guidelines for diners at restaurants. 
  • 27 September: Abu Dhabi's Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) confirms private schools can face up to Dh250,000 in fines for violating Covid-19 precautionary measures.
  • 26 September: Interior ministry denies rumours of new lockdown.
  • 8 September: Emergency, Crisis & Disasters Management Team in Sharjah and the Sharjah Private Education Authority extend remote learning for all levels in private schools in the emirate for another two weeks from 13 September. 
  • 7 September: UAE cabinet, chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approves national policy on vaccinations.
  • 1 September: Ministry of Education and the National Emergency Crisis & Disaster Management Authority revert some schools to online learning after suspected Covid-19 cases were detected during tests conducted prior to physical classes.
  • 25 August: Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis & Disasters Committee and Department of Health approve two tests for people wishing 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 diffractive phase interferometry (DPI) laser test result, provided it is supplemented with a negative PCR test result received within six days prior to entry. The same type of test cannot be taken twice in a row within six 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 24 September: Government to resume issuing visas for visitors to all seven emirates as part of efforts to ease Covid-19 restrictions and aid economic recovery. Major hospitals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi cut the price of a Covid-19 PCR test to AED180, but tests are still free for suspected patients, people in vulnerable categories including those with chronic illness, UAE citizens and people aged 50 and above.
  • 7 September: Abu Dhabi-based flag carrier Etihad Airways introduces global Covid-19 health insurance. The insurance will cover up to $177,130 of medical costs and $118 of quarantine costs per day for 14 days. All Etihad tickets, regardless of the date of booking, travelling between now and 31 December, will include the Covid-19 insurance, which is valid worldwide for 31 days from the first day of travel. Etihad has partnered with French insurance company Axa for the scheme.
  • 5 September: Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid al-Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, issues Emiri Decree No. 11 for 2020 for a package to support Ajman’s local transport sector. The package includes a 5 per cent discount on Ajman Transport Authority's franchise bill during the period between 1 October and 31 December if paid in full within 30 days from the bill date, and by 3 per cent if paid within the next 30 days. Abu Dhabi Judicial Academy assesses impact of Covid-19 on contractual obligations and anti-money-laundering.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 69,848
  • Recoveries: 63,549
  • Deaths: 245

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 24 September: Fine for failing to wear a face mask in public places raised from BD5 ($13.30) to BD20 ($53.2). 
  • 8 September: Bahrain's education and health ministries launch campaign to conduct Covid-19 tests for all public school administrators, teachers and technicians at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Conference Centre ahead of resumption of the new academic year on 20 September.
  • 6 September: Ministry of Education prepares guidelines for public and private educational institutions on the safe return to in-person classes. The guidelines detail health precautions, safety procedures and contingency plans in light of Covid-19, and cover aspects related to transportation, sanitisation, minimum social distance requirements and student classroom 'bubbles'. The guidelines also cover learning requirements related to curriculums, assessment and blended-learning scenarios.  
  • 6 September: Re-opening of public schools has been postponed by two weeks in order to test all administrative, technical and teaching staff for Covid-19. Public schools were scheduled to re-open for administrative, technical and teaching staff on 6 September, but following the postponement decision, they will start the new academic year on 20 September. The Ministry of Education said there is no change to the opening of private schools.
  • 1 September: Labour & Social Development Minister, Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, issues circular to all training institutions stipulating the basic precautionary requirements that training facilities must meet when they resume work. The temperatures of all employees, training staff and trainees will be measured on a daily basis and those whose temperature exceeds 37.5°C will not be allowed in. The precautionary measures also include sterilising all common tools and facilities before and after use, ensuring social distancing and limiting the number of trainees in a class to 10, providing face masks and prohibiting snacks and drinks for trainees while they are at the facility. The circular also encouraged the continuation of virtual training where possible.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 28 September: Bahrain has extended a scheme in which it pays half of the salaries of nationals working in parts of the private sector impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Payments will now continue until the end of the year. The scheme, which applies to people registered with the government’s unemployment insurance scheme, was due to end at the end of this month. The decree issued by King Hamad will benefit 23,000 Bahraini workers and 4,000 businesses and will be paid over the next three months starting from October. The cabinet also approved the payment of 50 per cent of salaries to more than 500 uninsured female workers in kindergartens and nurseries and said BD150 ($400) will be paid monthly to support 950 taxi, bus and other public transport drivers, and more than 800 driving instructors who are not insured. The ministers also decided to exempt tourist facilities and attractions from paying tourism fees for three months, also starting from October.
  • 5 September: Nationality, Passport & Residence Affairs resumes on-arrival visa for nationals of 68 countries at Bahrain's ports.
  • 3 September: Percentage of staff working in the office at the Ministry of Labour & Social Development is expected to increase from 6 September. Rehabilitation, training and social care centre staff and employment services staff capacity increased to 77 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, while all labour inspection and labour dispute settlement workers can return.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 103,981
  • Recoveries: 95,511
  • Deaths: 605

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 6 September: Ministry of Education issues decree to regulate private French, Indian, Pakistani and other curriculum schools during the 2020/21 academic year in light of Covid-19. The decree also specifies the mechanism for collecting tuition fees in three installments, the first of which will be 40 per cent of the total fees and the remaining two 30 per cent each at British, American, bilingual and French foreign schools. Fees in schools with other foreign educational systems are to be collected in two installments.
  • 3 September: New precautions announced for Terminal 4 of Kuwait International airport. Only 60 people will be allowed in the arrivals hall at the same time. Entry into the terminal to receive passengers will be allowed only an hour ahead of scheduled flight arrival.
  • 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 expats. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 29 September: Kuwaiti cabinet allows the reopening of Al-Abdali land border crossing for export operations to resume. 
  • 31 August: Cabinet discusses draft law encouraging local banks to offer finance to clients impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. Newly restructured board of Kuwait Airways, chaired by Ali al-Dukhan, holds meeting to discuss future plans in light of the pandemic's impact on air travel.
  • 26 August: Ministry of Interior to extend expired residency and visit visas for an additional three months from 1 September for individuals in 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.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 98,057
  • Recoveries: 88,234
  • Deaths: 924

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 3 September: Health minister warns companies and urges compliance with precautionary measures, failing which fines or closures may be imposed. 
  • 1 September: Supreme commitee for Covid-19 urges continued compliance with precautionary measures, warning that the occupancy rate in hospitals, particularly in intensive care units (ICUs), is still very high.
  • 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: 

  • 24 September: Expat work permit renewal fees reduced until December of 2020 by about one-third the current price. Companies bringing expat employees into the country and renewing their work visas will be required to pay $525 instead of $782 until the end of the year. Expats leaving the country were exempt from paying the fines they have accumulated during their stay in Oman, provided they depart the country permanently. The new decision is valid until the end of the year and is expected to aid expats exiting Oman as job losses arise due to Covid-19 across the Mena region. 
  • 7 September: Supreme committee to manage Covid-19 says international flights will resume on 1 October and approves general framework to resume new academic year. 
  • 1 September: Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Saidi, Minister of Health, issues Ministerial Decree No. 120/2020 to form a working group to provide a vaccine against Covid-19. The group will follow up global developments in the field of manufacturing and producing a coronavirus vaccine and set up mechanisms to obtain the appropriate vaccine in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and specialised companies.
  • 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 in hotels are also allowed to reopen under the sixth phase of Oman's economic resumption programme. People under 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.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 125,311
  • Recoveries: 122,209
  • Deaths: 214

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 & 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 from September to November. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 September: Flag carrier Qatar Airways discloses it had received a $2bn advance from the government of Qatar that has been converted into new shares. 
  • 4 September: Ministry of Interior allows sea vessels to operate at 30 per cent of maximum capacity, including crew members. The decision, in line with the fourth phase of easing restrictions, covers personal and rental boards, yachts, daily cruising boats and jets. Water scooters are also permitted for individual use. 
  • 31 August: Qatar Rail says Doha Metro is to resume services from 1 September at 30 per cent capacity under phase 4 economic resumption plan. Travellers are required to show their health status on the government's Ehteraz app and access will be denied for those whose body temperature is over 37.8°C. Masks are mandatory, and children under the age of 12 years cannot travel unaccompanied as yet. Ministry of Commerce & Industry issues guidelines for cleaning and hospitality industry staff, mandating the use of masks and gloves while they are working.
  • 30 August: Spa activities, massage services and indoor swimming pools to resume from 15 September with reduced capacity, Ministry of Commerce & 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.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 449,960
  • Recoveries: 376,531
  • Deaths: 25,779

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 26 September: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani authorises provinces to impose lockdowns wherever necessary to stem a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
  • 1 September: Cultural Heritage, Tourism & Handicrafts Minister, Ali-Asghar Mounesan, says Iranians must travel responsibly to curb the spread of the virus.
  • 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 is closed until further notice to curb the spread of Covid-19. The library had reopened in June after it was first closed in February. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 5 September: Schools reopen after seven months of closures. 
  • 1 September: President Hassan Rouhani says next year's budget will take the impact of Covid-19 and other economic shocks into consideration, adding: "Although the economic shocks caused by sanctions and the spread of coronavirus in some areas have damaged the country's economy, the government has made every effort to maintain the atmosphere of development and prosperity in production and business as much as possible."
  • 31 August: Tour guide card validity extended until 20 March 2021 to reduce in-person visits for renewals and boost the local tourism sector. Rail companies eligible under the government's $223.8m low-interest liquidity injection programme to combat Covid-19's economic impact will receive their dues from early September.
  • 30 August: 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."
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 102,955
  • Recoveries: 95,586
  • Deaths: 5,901

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 31 August: Civil aviation authority says passengers arriving at Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Marsa Alam and Taba airports can go through Covid-19 PCR tests for $30 at the airports. The decision comes as Egypt begins to enforce a rule requiring negative Covid-19 results, received 72 hours or less prior to arrival, from 1 September. Heritage and tourism sites in the Luxor and Aswan governorates are also due to reopen for international visitors on 1 September.
  • 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 Zayed says the country has passed its first wave of Covid-19. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 September: Flights from Ukraine and France are expected at Marsa Alam International airport from Saturday, local media reports.
  • 27 September: Flights will operate from Prague to the cities of Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam from 1 October. Egypt’s day labourers will keep receiving the exceptional grant until the end of 2020, as per President Abdel Fattah el Sisi’s directives. The Ministry of Manpower previously announced that 19 August would be the last day for paying the three-month exceptional presidential support, which the government started disbursing in April.
  • 6 September: Civil aviation authority approves Russian request to resume flights between Cairo and Moscow starting mid-September, after six months of suspension due to the pandemic.  
  • 1 September: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi urges precautionary measures be implemented as archaeological sites reopen in Egypt and schools prepare to reopen in October.
  • 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 archaeological sites will reopen on 1 September. 
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 353,566
  • Recoveries: 284,784
  • Deaths: 9,052

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 25 September: Flights to Iran will be suspended for 15 days over coronavirus concers. 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. 
  • 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 September: Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi pledges to meet the demands of doctors who went on strike over improvement in their work conditions. A statement by the prime minister's media office said that al-Kadhimi received representatives for the striking doctors and vowed to give a priority to meet their "legitimate demands", which came as a result of corruption and mismanagement during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
  • 8 September: Higher Committee for Health & National Safety approves resumption of youth activities, reopening land borders for trade, allowing public offices to work at 50 per cent capacity and reopening restaurants and event spaces in five-star hotels.
  • 1 September: Ministry of Health imports drugs approved by WHO to treat Covid-19 but urges vigilance even as new infection rate slows compared to rate of recovery.
  • 5 August: Deputy Minister of Health, Hazim 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 Mustafa 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. 
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 9,226
  • Recoveries: 4,359
  • Deaths: 51

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 8 September: Government says it will not impose a blanket curfew this weekend, and instead focus on tighter control. Wedding parties, funerals and activities where there are gatherings will be placed under tighter scrutiny. During curfew hours, shops will be required to close at 12am, with curfew hours to begin from 1am. Ghor as-Safi area in the southern governorate of Karak placed under lockdown until further notice. The lockdown includes closing places of worship, public markets, schools and gathering areas, and imposing a curfew from 8pm-6am. Separately, institutional quarantine procedures in force for arrivals at airports will also apply to drivers entering at land border crossings, Land Transport Regulatory Authority director-general, Salah Lozi, says.
  • 2 September: Amman and Zarqa to undergo complete curfew on 4 September, with only essential workers to be exempted from the outdoor movement ban.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 28 September: Twenty-four schools, including 12 public schools, six private schools and six United Nations Relief & Works Agency schools, have suspended attendance and switched to remote learning, the Ministry of Education says. 
  • 8 September: Commercial flights resume to and from Queen Alia International airport six months after closures. Jordan has divided inbound arrivals into green, yellow and red countries. All travellers must provide proof that they had been resident in the country of departure for at least 14 days and must have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. 'Green country' arrivals must take a second PCR test at the airport and await a negative test result to enter Jordan, while those from 'yellow countries' must be tested and escorted to a mandatory seven-day quarantine at their own expense. Arrivals from 'red countries', with a high prevalence of Covid-19, must enter the government-organised quarantine and then self-isolate at home for a further week, during which they will be required to wear an electronic bracelet.
  • 6 September: Truck drivers exempted from paying JD10 entry fee at border with Saudi Arabia as part of measures to ease financial burden and ensure they comply with quarantine measures. 
  • 4 September: Labour Minister, Nidal al-Batayneh, says government will issue new circular for wage regulation during the month of September. 
  • 2 September: Queen Alia International airport to reopen on 8 September. 
  • 1 September: Prime Minister Omar Razzaz calls for greater compliance with precautionary measures at border crossings with Syria and Saudi Arabia, adding that truck drivers coming from abroad must be in minimal contact with border officials to reduce the risk of infection.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 37,272
  • Recoveries: 16,676
  • Deaths: 351

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 8 September: Syndicate of restaurant, cafe, cabaret & patisserie owners in Lebanon urges food and beverage institutions to comply with precautionary measures or face risk of "returning to square one and complete closures".
  • 26 August: General mobilisation extended until 31 December to curb Covid-19. Caretaker Prime Minister 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 23 September: Emirati humanitarian aid ship dispatched by Emirates Red Crescent arrives in Beirut upon the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al-Dhafra Region and chairman of the organisation, to support people affected by the explosion at the city’s port. The ship carried 2,400 tonnes of relief aid, including food, food supplements for children, sanitisers, personal protective equipment, clothes and medical supplies, to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
  • 8 September: Caretaker Interior Minister, Mohamed Fahmi, relaxes coronavirus precautions after end of two-week curfew. The curfew will now last from 6am-1pm. For the first time since a coronavirus lockdown was implemented in March, cinemas will be allowed to reopen, local newspaper the Daily Star reports. Nightclubs, social event halls, markets and Casino du Liban will also be permitted to reopen.
  • 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 (PPE) to help "overstretched hospitals" in Beirut deal with Covid-19 patients, state news agency NNA reports. The WHO will distribute the face masks, overalls, gloves, goggles and gowns to hospitals across the city. 
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 119,107
  • Recoveries: 97,468
  • Deaths: 2,113

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 8 September: Regional Academy of Education & Training of Dakhla-Oued Eddahab announces distance learning for 15 days in all public and private schools under the provincial directorates of National Education of Oued Eddahab & Aousserd for the school year 2020/21. 
  • 7 September: Family visits to penitentiary institutions suspended from 8 September until health conditions improve. Remote education to be implemented in phases or cycles for public and private schools in Marrakech. Morocco's education ministry said earlier this week that remote education would be mandated for schools located in Covid-19 hotspots, and for students that have a confirmed Covid-19 patient at home.
  • 6 September: Restrictions introduced in Casablanca for 14 days from 7 September. Schools are to be closed, with local markets, cafes and shops, and restaurants required to close at 3pm, 8pm and 9pm, respectively. Night-time movement is banned from 10pm-5am.
  • 4 September: Provincial Coordination Post, in charge of managing the Covid-19 pandemic, decides to ban all travel to and from the cities of Khenifra and M'rirt, except for people with an exceptional travel authorisation, from 6 September. Public transport is suspended and it is decided to close cafes and restaurants in both cities at 10pm, to prohibit all access to green areas and public spaces beyond 10pm, and to close the weekly Ahtab souk in the city of Khenifra, as well as the cattle souks of the two cities. It is also decided to ban all commercial activity other than the sale of vegetables and fruits in the weekly souk of M'rirt, close markets and shops at 5pm and ban the broadcast of football matches in cafes in both cities.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 1 September: Ministry of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education & Scientific Research says vocational training season will begin on 12 October and that the final vocational training exams for second-year trainees at the specialised technician, technician and qualification levels, initially postponed, will be held on 15-18 September. The Office of Vocational Training & Labor Promotion will schedule examinations for qualification levels in a single year and of specialisation in November 2020, in addition to the continuation of revision courses remotely from 7 September. 
  • 1 September: Minister of Economy, Finance & Administration Reform, Mohamed Benchaaboun, signs three guarantee agreements relating to loans granted by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development for the National Airports Office (ONDA), the National Highways Company (ADM) and the National Office for Electricity & Drinking Water (ONEE). The loans are worth MD3.2bn ($357m) and aim to support the public sector entities cope with the impact of Covid-19.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 33,213
  • Recoveries: 18,518
  • Deaths: 527

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 7 September: Head of the National Center 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. 
  • 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 soon. 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 end in October.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 27 September: Flights between Libya and Tunisia will gradually resume from the beginning of October, the Libyan African Aviation Holding Company (LAAHC) said. LAAHC owns both of Libya’s state air carriers, Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Air. Passengers travelling from Libya must show the negative results of a PCR test taken no more than 120 hours (five days) before flying.
  • 30 August: Land, sea and air borders reopen in Eastern Libya, based on advice from the Anti-Coronavirus Advisory Committee. A monthly list will be prepared to classify countries into 'red' and 'green' categories based on which epidemiological precautions will be exercised. Negative Covid-19 test results, acquired less than 48 hours prior to arrival, are required for entry, Libya Herald reports. 
  • 26 August: Primary schools expected to reopen on 12 September. Secondary school classes will resume from 29 August. Final exams for secondary school students have been planned for 3-15 October.
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 16,114
  • Recoveries: 5,032
  • Deaths: 214

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 28 September: New measures rolled out to curb Covid-19. Chairs are banned in cafes and restaurants have to comply with social distancing protocol with penalties that could reach the closure of spaces that violate the law. Guests for wedding parties are reduced by 30 per cent in terms of reception capacity, and the wearing of masks is compulsory in public and private means of transport. 
  • 26 September: Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi rules out another general lockdown, saying the pandemic requires co-existence with the virus through preventive measures, adding the socioeconomic cost of lockdowns cannot be afforded.
  • 8 September: Mobile military microbiology laboratory set up in the governorate of Kebili, southern Tunisia.
  • 2 September: Director-general of the National Observatory of New & Emerging Diseases, Nissaf Ben Alaya, says schools will be shut down if multiple Covid-19 infections are detected.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 26 September: Government is considering various proposals to help stakeholders in the tourism sector, eyeing support plans such as the rescheduling of the settlement of bank and social security fund debts, and extending credits over longer repayment periods.
  • 2 September: Independent technical committee comprising members of various ministries is assigned to check operational readiness of private real-time PCR (RT-PCR) testing centres. Health ministry to launch online portal to book Covid-19 tests.
  • 1 September: Prime Minister-designate, Hichem Mechichi, pledges to continue supporting institutions impacted by Covid-19. Separately, a partnership agreement aimed at combatting issues related to Covid-19 and its impact on the tourism and hotels sector was signed by Tunisia JOBS and the local Edhiafa Association. The agreement will provide the Edhiafa Association with the means to support the business resilience of small and boutique Tunisian hotels during and after the pandemic. 
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 51,213
  • Recoveries: 35,962
  • Deaths: 1,719

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 7 September: Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad says date to reopen schools in Algeria has not been set, and will depend on data about the pandemic: "We do not want to take any risk for our children and their parents at this point."
  • 31 August: Curfew renewed in the Boumerdes, Bouira, Relizane, Medea, Blida, Tipaza, Algiers, Oran, Annaba and Bejaia provinces. The curfew takes effect from 1 September for a period of 30 days and prohibits movement from 11pm-6am. This curfew has also been imposed on the Tebessa, Illizi, El-Tarf, Ain Defla, Tlemcen, Tizi-Ouzou, Tindouf and Jijel provinces, where the epidemiological situation has worsened. Public and private transport remains barred during the weekends in these provinces. Family gatherings and weddings also remain banned.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 2 September: Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad chairs government meeting to discuss implementation of economic recovery plan, which includes measures to roll out by the end of 2020, in 2021 and in 2022-24. 
  • 31 August: Ban on cultural activities such as museums and libraries lifted as part of plans to partially lift the national curfew. Nurseries may reopen at 50 per cent capacity. Curfew lifted in the Souk Ahras, Tissemsilt, Djelfa, Mascara, Oum el-Bouaghi, Batna, Biskra, Khenchela, M'sila, Chlef, Sidi Bel Abbes, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Ouargla, Bechar, Constantine, Setif, Adrar, Laghouat and El-Oued provinces. Sports ministry authorities mull gradual resumption of activities, and exceptional paid leave granted to women who are pregnant or are raising children aged under 14 years is lifted. 
  • 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. 
As of 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,031
  • Recoveries: 1,266
  • Deaths: 587

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. 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 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 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 4,102
  • Recoveries: 1,074
  • Deaths: 194

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 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. 

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 12.30 GST, 29 September 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during August 2020.

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