Russian Covid-19 vaccine trials start in UAE

13 October 2020
Phase three testing of the Sputnik-V vaccine commences as Mena case tally breaches 2.25 million mark

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 2,254,767 on 13 October, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

 

Countries in the GCC account for 38.6 per cent (869,515) of all regional cases, while Iran alone comprises 22.4 per cent (504,281).

Saudi Arabia is the worst-hit GCC country for Covid-19, with 339,615 cases confirmed to date, 325,839 recoveries and 5,068 deaths.

On 12 October, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health called on patients with uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cirrhosis and coronary artery disease, among others, to postpone Umrah plans. A three-phase plan to conduct Umrah was announced by the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah on 30 September.

Vaccine development has gained traction in the Mena region, led by the UAE, which has confirmed 107,293 cases of Covid-19 to date, with 98,555 recoveries and 446 deaths.

Phase three trials of an adenovirus-based vaccine named Sputnik-V were announced on 12 October to have commenced in the UAE under sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund's partnership with Aurugulf Health Investment. 

The trials will be conducted by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, under the supervision of the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention, with medical protocols handled by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.

Trials of the Russian vaccine come after the UAE was chosen for Chinese company Sinopharm's phase three vaccine trials in July.

More than 30,000 volunteers were part of the process and more were later sought in limited numbers from Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(13 October 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 339,615
  • Recoveries: 325,839
  • Deaths: 5,068

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 12 October: Ministry of Health calls on patients of uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cirrhosis and coronary artery disease, among others, to pospone Umrah plans as Covid-19 risks persist. 
  • 8 October: Distance learning will continue at Saudi schools until the end of the first term of the educational year, which concludes in December. 
  • 30 September: Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announces three-phase Umrah plan to ensure pilgrims' safety. Pilgrims must wait 14 days before performing Umrah for the second time. The Eatmarna app must be used to book Umrah slots.
  • 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.

 Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 2 October: Property deals in Saudi Arabia exempted from 15 per cent value-added tax, and will instead face a new 5 per cent tax on transactions, as part of government measures to shore up the local real estate sector. 
  • 30 SeptemberSaudi Arabia plans to cut government spending over the coming years, according to figures released by the Ministry of Finance in its pre-budget statement for the 2021 financial year. The planned spending cuts will follow a fall in government revenues this year, largely due to oil price fluctuations and the economic impact of Covid-19. 
  • 29 September: General Organisation for Social Insurance extends stimulus programme to support salaries of Saudi nationals in companies impacted by Covid-19. The programme originally covered 70 percent of Saudi employees in firms with over five workers, and applied to a several activities across the private sector. Initially due to expire in October, the programme will continue until January and support half of all Saudis working in a company still impacted by Covid-19 in sectors including travel, sports and entertainment.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 107,293
  • Recoveries: 98,555
  • Deaths: 446

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 12 October: Khalifa University of Science and Technology researchers develop prototypes of Nava Mask, a biodegradable environment-friendly anti-viral face mask. The team has filed for a patent license for the mask's material, a project that Khalifa University worked on with Italy's University of Salerno. Phase 3 trials of adenovirus-based vaccine named Sputnik-V begin under the Russian Direct Investment Fund's partnership with Aurugulf Health Investment in the UAE. The trials will be conducted by the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, under the supervision of the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, with medical protocols handled by Abu Dhabi’s public health provider, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company. Dubai Health Authority says residents can book appointments to get tested for Covid-19 at malls including City Centre Mirdif, City Centre Deira and Mall of the Emirates. 
  • 4 October: National Emergency Crisis Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) forms seven inspection teams, one to be based in each emirate, to crack down on those failing to adhere to the strict coronavirus precautionary measures. Forty-six protocols have been put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19. 
  • 2 October: UAE nationals will no longer need to take a PCR test before they board their flight to Dubai, but will take the Covid-19 test once they land in Dubai, said the NCEMA.
  • 29 September: Frontline staff of Sharjah International airport receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The inactivated Covid-19 vaccine is now in the third and last phase of clinical trials in four Arab countries.
  • 28 September: Dubai Tourism orders entertainment to stop at 1am to stop spread of Covid-19.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 11 October: Abu Dhabi Customs launches new package of incentives and services, including the ability to replace bank guarantees with institutional guarantees, free transportation of goods between free zones and customs’ warehouses, applying simple electronic procedures and the use of smart systems for customs services. The Integrated Transport Centre of the Department of Municipalities and Transport in Abu Dhabi allows companies operating electric scooter (e-scooters) rental services in the UAE capital to gradually resume services at 25 per cent capacity at Al-Reem Island, Al-Maryah Island, Al-Zahia and Al-Dana, as well as parts of Al-Bateen, Corniche and Marina from 12 October.
  • 5 October: Federal Authority For Identity and Citizenship resumes issuing visas for domestic workers and entry permits for employees working for the country's government and semi-government organisations and other vital sectors. Department of Civil Aviation in Ras al-Khaimah says expatriate residents will be allowed to enter the emirate through Ras al-Khaimah International airport without prior permission from 15 October. They must carry the negative results of a Covid-19 test conducted in the past 96 hours, and travellers or their sponsors must cover the cost of another PCR test, as well as quarantine if the test result is positive. Tourists may also enter the UAE through the airport provided they have reserved air tickets, obtained tourist medical insurance, hold a 96 hours-old Covid-19 test result and fill in a medical disclosure form for authorities.
  • 3 October: Ministry of Presidential Affairs, in coordination with the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, announces the re-opening of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque both in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah as well as the Founder's Memorial in the UAE capital. Precautionary measures must be followed by visitors.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 75,948
  • Recoveries: 71,687
  • Deaths: 280

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 11 October: Interior ministry says it has trained dogs from its Medical K9 Detection Section to detect Covid-19 at Bahrain's ports. 
  • 5 October: Travel temporarily suspended to destinations that "can adversely affect national efforts to curb the spread of" Covid-19. 
  • 3 October: Health Ministry consultant physician urges compliance with precautionary measures to curb spike in Covid-19 cases. 
  • 29 September: Bahrain Red Crescent Society says it has included information about tackling Covid-19, how to respond to infected cases and the necessary precautions to be adopted in its annual training courses for Bahrainis and expatriates. 
  • 24 September: Fine for failing to wear a face mask in public places raised from BD5 ($13.30) to BD20 ($53.2). 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:  

  • 1 October: Ministry of Education announces administrative, teaching and technical staff will resume work on 4 October, confirming staggered re-entry at of 50 per cent of the teaching staff, with rotated school attendance. One per cent of administrative, teaching and teaching staff who failed to respond to the ministry's call to undergo PCR tests will not be allowed back. Public school students will start the new school year on 11 October and be required to study remotely at the beginning of the school year for two weeks. Students wishing to physically attend classes will be allowed to return to their respective schools on 25 October.
  • 29 September: New legislation to deliver post-Covid-19 economic recovery will be drawn up by members of parliament during their upcoming seven-month term, which begins in October. Legislation to tackle cybercrime, monitor unscrupulous online sales and the digitisation of financial services will be among the items of discussion.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 111,893
  • Recoveries: 103,802
  • Deaths: 664

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 12 October: Cabinet assigns Ministry of Information to intensify public messaging on health requirements to curb the spread of Covid-19. Additional decisions included requiring appointments to eat out at restaurants and cafés, as well as visit sports clubs. The establishment of camps and temporary tents will be established in residential areas, and the country's main committee to manage Covid-19 was asked to intensify efforts to reduce the number of new infections in Kuwait.
  • 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 7 October: National Assembly approves bill to support and ensure local banks' financing of customers affected by the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. The draft law specifies the importance of encouraging banks to provide financing and "prevent the occasional shortage of liquidity from turning into a chronic and prolonged problem that affects [clients'] financial solvency".
  • 4 October: The Central Bank of Kuwait, which pegs the dinar to a basket of currencies dominated by the US dollar, reiterated its commitment to Kuwait's exchange-rate policy, responding to reports of a devaluation. 
  • 29 September: Kuwaiti cabinet allows the reopening of Al-Abdali land border crossing for export operations to resume. 
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 106,575
  • Recoveries: 93,222
  • Deaths: 1,046

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 11 October: Royal Oman Police starts implementation of new lockdown, adding that legal action will be taken against offenders and they will face trial before designated courts.
  • 9 October: Supreme committee to tackle Covid-19 announces new lockdown, which includes the prohibition of movement and lockdown of all public places and commercial outlets from 8pm to 5am on 11-24 October. Beaches have been closed, and some business activities that did not comply with precautionary measures whilst reopening following the first lockdown will be reclosed. The names and pictures of offenders who violate the instructions will be published in the media. 
  • 7 October: Isolation ward funded by Oman LNG launched at Sur Referral hospital for patients with Covid-19. The ward has 12 rooms and will save time resources for medical staff, who would otherwise have to shift patients across different locations for treatment. 
  • 5 October: Minister of Health Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Saidi says Oman is in touch with manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines, but a commercial manufacturing date has yet to be made available. 
  • 1 October: Flights resume in Oman, but land borders remain shut for regular travellers until further notice, with only the transport of goods deliveries, medical supply and travellers with special permits allowed.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 12 October: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issues royal decree for Oman to implement a 5 per cent value-added tax (VAT) in 180 days, or in April 2021, as economic challenges deepen in the sultanate. Separately, Muscat announces budget deficit of RO826.5m by the end of 2020, with government spending reducing 8.4 per cent during the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 to reach RO5.6bn in June amid expenditure cuts to stall the economic decline.
  • 5 October: First phase of field hospital for Covid-19 patients opens at old Muscat Airport. Phase 1 of the hospital has a capacity of 100 beds, with subsequent phases to increase the total number of beds to 312. A 10,000 square-metre shelter centre with 384 beds will be attached to the hospital. Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry predicts 2.5 per cent economic growth next year. “We feel that by next year the Covid-19 pandemic will be over, and this means we could actually have some growth,” Ahmed al-Hooti, head of economic research at the chamber, said according to local media.
  • 1 October: Muscat International airport reopens for incoming and outbound flights for citizens and residents. 
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 128,191
  • Recoveries: 125,176
  • Deaths: 220

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 12 October: Sidra Medicine added to list of 32 health centres approved to conduct PCR tests for the novel coronavirus.
  • 5 October: Chairperson of Hamad Medical Corporation's department of laboratory medicine and patholoy, Einas al-Kuwari, says automated antigen tests to rapidly provide Covid-19 status results are at the experimental phase.  She added that the test, which delivers results in 10 minutes, has an accuracy rate of 97 per cent. 
  • 2 October: Mandatory quarantine remains in place until further notice for all passengers arriving in the country, supreme committee dealing with the Covid-19 crisis says. 
  • 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 12 October: Doha says it is producing 992,000 litres of hand sanitisers each month, adding that it has signed 14 contracts to increase the stock of food and consumer commodities in the country. 
  • 5 October: Msheireb tram, linking all parts of Msheireb Downtown Doha and Qatar Rail through the Central Msheireb metro station, resumes operations with mandatory precautionary measures. 
  • 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. 
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 504,281
  • Recoveries: 409,121
  • Deaths: 28,816

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 10 October: National Task Force for Fighting Coronavirus approves fines for violators of safety precautions. President Hassan Rouhani said: "If those infected with the virus appear in the society, they will be fined 200,000 tomans (IRR2m) [...and] any person who appears outdoors without wearing masks will be fined 50,000 tomans (IRR500,000), which must be deposited to the account that will be announced within two weeks." 
  • 7 October: Rouhani says new restrictions are necessary to curb Covid-19 despite the socioeconomic drawbacks of closures. "We know that the temporary closure of some businesses is a problem for the people, but in the current situation we have no choice but to increase restrictions." No new measures were confirmed, but starting 10 October, the government will go door-to-door in Tehran to remind individuals about the use of masks. 
  • 5 October: Rouhani urges compliance with precautionary measures, adding: "Reducing social discipline is making it difficult for us [to curb Covid-19]. Those who hide [having the] disease should be fined." Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari says 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces are high-risk 'red zones', while four other provinces are at the next level in the 'orange zone'. Masoud Mardani, a member of the National Headquarters for Coronavirus Control, said field hospitals would likely be required if trips are conducted on upcoming national holidays, Tehran Times reported. 
  • 4 October: Civil Aviation Organisation says all flights to and from Iraq have been cancelled until further notice to curb the spread of Covid-19. 
  • 3 October: Rouhani warns that violators of safety precautions or those who hide having Covid-19 will be fined: "Reducing social discipline is making it difficult for us [to curb the spread]. We need to increase supervision and monitoring, and even designate fines for violations and deal with them."
  • 26 September: 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 10 October: Rouhani says $100m has been allocated to purchase Covid-19 testing kits. 
  • 5 September: Schools reopen after seven months of closures. 
  • 1 September: 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."
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 104,648
  • Recoveries: 97,743
  • Deaths: 6,062

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 5 October: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi directs local medical sector to remain alert and prepared to deal with the possibility of a new wave of Covid-19 ahead of the new academic year's commencement. Advisor to the Egyptian President for Health Affairs, Muhammad Awad Tajuddin, warns against lax behaviours as winter season approaches. 
  • 4 October: Ministry of Education issues guidelines for schools. Measures stipulate that a class will be closed for 28 days if more than one student tests positive for the coronavirus in a period of two weeks. A school will be closed for 28 days if two or more classes in the school are closed. 
  • 29 September: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly stresses the need for continued compliance with precautionary measures in offices and at construction sites. 
  • 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 6 October: Hossam al-Masry, medical advisor to Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly, says Egypt has stockpiles of medication to aid with Covid-19 recovery and citizens do not need to hoard these drugs fearing shortages. The Egyptian Drug Authority secured 2.5 million packages of the Azithromycin antibiotic, as well as 233,000 bottles of the drug in September, the cabinet said. 
  • 4 October: Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, says two Egyptian Covid-19 vaccines are ready for first-phase trials, adding that the country has worked on developing four vaccines since the start of the pandemic.
  • 29 September: Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s national wealth fund, announces plan to supply 25 million doses of its Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine to Egypt through local Pharco Pharmaceuticals. Egypt's Vacsera is conducting its own trials on two Chinese-made vaccines, in cooperation with the Chinese government and the UAE healthcare company G42.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 405,437
  • Recoveries: 340,050
  • Deaths: 9,912

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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 4 October: Iraqi officials hold meeting with British/Swedish pharmaceutical producer AstraZeneca to procure adequate doses of the vaccine that the company is developing for Covid-19. 
  • 1 October: Healthcare infrastructure planned to be expanded. "The current number of coronavirus testing laboratories in the country is 40, and the ministry is planning to establish 20 more labs during the current month," director of the Health Ministry's Laboratories, Duraid Qasim Jasim, said.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 26,073
  • Recoveries: 6,219
  • Deaths: 207

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 11 October: Committee for the Sustainability of Work, Production and Supply Chains extends comprehensive curfew and isolation on Ain Basha district's areas in the Balqa governorate until 15 October.
  • 9 October: Home quarantine will be imposed on Jordanian truck drivers entering the country from Saudi Arabia through the Al-Omari border crossing from 11 October. Those arriving from green and yellow countries will be isolated at home for seven days, while those arriving from red countries will be isolated for 14 days. 
  • 7 October: The Work, Supply and Production Chains Sustainability Committee to extend the comprehensive curfews in parts of the Batrawi and New Zarqa areas in Zarqa governorate, Eil district in southern Ma'an city, and the Baqa'a camp in the central Balqa governorate until 12 October. 
  • 6 October: Comprehensive curfew to be imposed from midnight on Thursday for a period of 48 hours and will be repeated in the coming weeks. Armed forces will be deployed in all governorates to ensure compliance. Only epidemiological investigation teams, medical and nursing staff, small numbers of staff maintaining the work of institutions for vital sectors may leave their homes during the curfew, without exception even for permit-holders. In-school learning is suspended and distance learning is to be followed.
  • 5 October: Areas in Amman's Al-Salhini, Al-Moqableen and Umm Nawara, as well as parts of Mafraq and Jerash, will be placed under isolation and a full lockdown for one week, starting 7 October. 
  • 30 September: Minister of State for Media Affairs, Amjad al-Adaileh, warns against flouting precautions as parts of the country reopen: "Recklessness may push us to return to a complete or partial curfew.”
  • 29 September: One-week total lockdown imposed in Baqaa camp in Balqa, as well as the New Zarqa and Al-Batrawi areas in Zarqa from 6am on 1 October. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 8 October: More than 100 fixed Covid-19 testing sites will be opened across the country, Health Ministry Assistant-General for Primary Healthcare, Ghazi Sharkas, said. 
  • 4 October: Al-Adaileh offers reassurances about the Jordanian healthcare sector's capacity to combat Covid-19, adding that the price of the PCR test at private laboratories has been reduced to JD35.
  • 30 September: Jordan's government announces plan to reopen mosques, churches, restaurants and cafés from 1 October even as Covid-19 cases spike in the Hashemite kingdom. 
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 54,624
  • Recoveries: 23,941
  • Deaths: 466

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 11 October: Interior Ministry shuts bars and nightclubs until further notice and enforces local lockdowns on 169 villages and districts across the country, up from 111 earlier this month. The ministry also underscored the importance of complying with the 1-6am curfew and the use of masks.
  • 7 October: Caretaker Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, reviews condition of Lebanese prisons amid Covid-19 spike. ICU beds will be prepared within 10 days in a government hospital, and capacity will also be expanded in the private sector.
  • 2 October: Lebanon has put 111 villages and towns nationwide on lockdown for a week. Residents must stay home and wear masks if forced to go out, health ministry says. State institutions and places of worship are to close, but health centres and delivery services are exempt, UAE state news agency Wam reported.
  • 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".

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 7 October: Lebanon inks agreement for World Health Organisation to fund treatment of 800 Covid-19 patients from the Roumieh jail.
  • 5 October: Caretaker Minister of Public Health, Hamad Hassan, says he has approached the Lebanese central bank's governor for accurate data regarding subsidised medication. Lebanon has reached the peak of its second wave of Covid-19, Hassan said, adding that the illness spiralled out of control after the Port of Beirut blasts on 4 August. 
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 153,761
  • Recoveries: 129,498
  • Deaths: 2,636

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 1 October: Government extends precautionary measures imposed in Casablanca on 7 September for another fortnight from 5 October. Curbs imposed include the closing of local markets at 3pm, restaurants at 9pm and limiting entry to or exit from the city strictly through exceptional authorisation. 
  • 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 9 October: King Mohammed VI says economic stimulus is the Moroccan government's foremost priority, adding that the establishment of the Mohammed VI Investment Fund will drive support for major public-private partnership projects in the country. More than 20,000 Moroccan businesses have received state-guaranteed loans worth MD26.1bn to date, and King Mohammed VI has asked for MD15bn from state resources to be allocated for the newly formed strategic investment fund. The leader also called for social welfare coverage for all Moroccans, which includes universal compulsory healthcare coverage for an additional 22 million individuals by the end of 2022. 
  • 1 October: Educational institutes in Casablanca will be allowed to reopen on 5 October, marking an exception to the closures that have been extended in the city.
  • 29 September: Morocco to expand testing capacity for Covid-19 by allowing more private sector laboratories to test for the virus. Earlier this month, 18 private laboratories were permitted to conduct tests to alleviate the burden on public hospitals and laboratories.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 43,821
  • Recoveries: 24,466
  • Deaths: 644

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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 11 October: State-held National Oil Company lifts force majeure on the Sharara oilfield, which can pump as much as 300,000 barrels-a-day.
  • 7 October: Aviation authority seeks resumption of flights between Mitiga and Benina airports. 
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 32,556
  • Recoveries: 5,032
  • Deaths: 478

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 10 October: Local disaster response committee in Nabeul approves curfew in Dar Chaabane, Beni Khiar, Korba, Hammamet and Soliman from 8pm to 5am for a period of 15 days starting 11 October. Similar curfew launched in Southern Gafsa and Northern Gafsa and El-Ksar on 10 October, also for a 15-day period. 
  • 7 October: Curfew approved for Greater Tunis from 9pm to 5am from Monday-Friday and 7pm to 5am on Saturday-Sunday. The curfew will run until 23 October. A curfew during 8pm-5am has also been announced for Kef city for 15 days from 7 October. Travel outside Kef is prohinited, Friday prayers are on hold and restaurants and cafés may only operate for take-aways, but schools and social institutions will operate as usual. Separately, the Ministry of Education has created a mobilisation team to conduct daily inspection visits to schools. 
  • 5 October: Sports ministry announces suspension of youth and sports events, as well as official sports competitions and exhibition games, for 15 days, with the possibility of extension if required. National teams must carry out Covid-19 tests and ensure they are negative so as to continue training. 
  • 3 October: Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi urges compliance with healthcare precautions, adding that normal classes in schools, universities and vocational training institutions will continue. He also announced a ban on all gatherings and public or private demonstrations.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 12 October: Banque Centrale de Tunisie (BCT) says loans handed out in July 2020 grew 4.3 per cent compared to 6.2 per cent in July last year. Medium-term loans expanded 10.1 per cent year-on-year, but short-term loans continued to decline, noting growth of only 0.7 per cent this year compared to 2.9 per cent last year. Loans to individuals expanded by 3.4 per cent in July 2020 compared to 2.6 per cent in July 2019.
  • 5 October: Minister of Health Faouzi Mehdi says 3,000 healthcare staff will be recruited to support public hospitals as part of an exceptional hiring drive. The ministry plans to establish 12 Covid-19 units, with 20 beds each, in addition to field hospitals. Ventilator-equipped bed numbers are to be raised three-fold to 1,200 by the end of October, with ventilator beds to increase from 150 to 700 in the private sector during the period. ICU beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients will increase from 95 to 220 in the public and 100 to 200 in the private sectors. Eight isolation centres, each with the capacity for 5,000 people, will open in seven governorates. If additional centres are required in a governorate, then the accommodation costs will be borne by the government.  
  • 3 October: Mechichi says Tunisia cannot financially afford another lockdown: "The lockdown scenario is not conceivable." He added that by the end of October, the number of ventilator-equipped beds in the country will increase from 400 to 1,200 in the public health sector and from 150 to 700 in the private sector.
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 53,225
  • Recoveries: 37,382
  • Deaths: 1,809

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 5 October:  Institut Pasteur d'Algérie issues tenders to acquire PCR tests and medical equipment that can carry out 2,000 screening tests per day. 
  • 3 October: Minister of Health, Population and Hospital Reform, Abderrahmane Benbouzid, says the Algerian airspace will not open until a sovereign decision is made after reviewing the epidemiological situation both within and outside the country. 
  • 2 October: Benbouzid says "Algeria has won the battle", adding: "Vigilance is still required to avoid a second wave.”
  • 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."

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 4 October: Schools and universities will reopen on 21 October and 22 November, respectively. Intermediate and secondary school classes are to resume on 4 November. Separately, preliminary draft of the 2021 Finance Law is presented to the Council of Ministers in a meeting chaired by Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
  • 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. 
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,052
  • Recoveries: 1,329
  • Deaths: 596

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: 

  • 7 October: United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) says primary schools have reopened following months of closures. Preventive sanitary measures have been implemented and school schedules have been rearranged to avoid overcrowding.
  • 2 June: International donors pledge $1.35bn in aid for Yemen. Saudi Arabia's contribution totals $500m, with the UK offering $200m and Germany contributing $140m.
  • 18 May: Yemen’s Health Minister, Nasser Ba’aom, and Minister of Local Administration, Abdul Raqib Fatah, appeal for international aid. “We need PPE supplies, ventilators, finance for the medical workers who work in the Covid-19 centres,” Dr Ba’aom said, according to UAE newspaper the National. “We also need medical equipment such as a complete biological units, testing kits, field hospitals and beds for the ICUs. Additionally, we still need food aid, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene.”
As of 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 4,774
  • Recoveries: 1,331
  • Deaths: 228

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.

Financial measures to minimise the economic crisis:

  • 1 October: Flights out of the Damascus International airport resume after six months of closures. Syrian Airlines will fly from Damascus International airport to regional locations, including Cairo and Beirut, as well as resume a weekly flight to Khartoum, Sudan and accept ad-hoc flights with Kuwait. 
  • 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 09.30 GST, 13 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.

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