Tunisia eyes healthcare overhaul to curb Covid-19

18 October 2020
Select organisations and political parties call for requisition of private healthcare as Mena cases cross 2.36 million-mark

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 2,360,055 on 18 October, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

 

Countries in the GCC account for 37.6 per cent (886,818) of all confirmed cases, while Iran alone makes up 22.3 per cent of the total.

To date, Iran has confirmed 526,490 cases of Covid-19, with 423,921 recoveries and 30,123 deaths.

On 17 October, Tehran governor-general Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpey extended last week's closures in the capital by an additional week. 

The restrictive measures in Tehran ban all forms of public gatherings across the province, including Friday prayers.

Gyms, recreational centres, ceremony halls and coffee shops are shut down as well.

Countries in the wider Mena region, excluding Iran, make up 40.1 per cent (946,747) of all 2.36 million cases.

Infections have been growing in Tunisia in recent weeks, with the total number of cases reaching 40,542 as of 18 October, with 5,032 recoveries and 626 deaths.

On 17 October, select political parties and national organisations called for the requisition of private health sector clinics, laboratories and free practice doctors to back national efforts to combat the coronavirus.

Among the signatories who called for enhancing the public health sector to contend with Covid-19 were independents, as well as members of the Workers' Party, the National Democratic Socialist Party, the Popular Current, the Tunisia Forward movement and the General Union of Students of Tunisia. 

Several provinces in the country have declared a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The governor of Sousse, Raja Trabelsi, on 15 October extended the nightly curfew by 10 days to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The curfew will be in force in the entire governorate from 8pm to 5am.

Covid-19 in the Mena region:

(18 October 2020)

COUNTRYLATEST UPDATES

Saudi Arabia               

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 341,854
  • Recoveries: 328,165
  • Deaths: 5,165

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:   

  • 17 October: Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announces plans for the second phase of the gradual resumption of performing Umrah. The second phase allows 15,000 Umrah performers and 40,000 worshipers per day at maximum capacity. Citizens and residents will be allowed to perform Umrah at 75 per cent of the premises' capacity, accounting for precautionary health measures across the Grand Mosque, and each group will be allocated three hours to complete the Umrah rituals.
  • 16 October: General Directorate of Passports starts automatic extension of the validity of final exit visas that were not used during the suspension period of entry to and exit from the kingdom until 31 October. This extension, which is backed by the Ministry of Finance, is free of charge for all expatriates whose their extension period has expired.
  • 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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
UAE

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 114,387
  • Recoveries: 106,354
  • Deaths: 459

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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis:   

  • 17 October: Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) resumes operations of the four bus routes that serve the Global Village from the start of its new season 2020/21. The RTA will also resume the electric abra tourist services within Global Village from 25 October. 
  • 14 October: Air Arabia reveals plans to resume flights from Ras al-Khaimah International airport to four destinations in Egypt and Pakistan, as well as launches a new route to Dhaka. Flights to Cairo and Lahore; Peshawar and Dhaka; and Islamabad will resume from Ras al-Khaimah on 15, 16 and 17 October, respectively. The airline has also launched free Covid-19 cover on all flights, valid for 31 days from departure and including medical and quarantine expenses. 
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Bahrain

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 77,571
  • Recoveries: 73,841
  • Deaths: 293

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 15 October: Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, and First Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain, says precautionary measures have led to a 45 per cent decline in daily cases over the past four weeks, and urges citizens and residents to continue adhering to safety guidelines. 
  • 14 October: Ministry of Health launches trials of rapid Covid-19 tests, which will initially include 20,000 inspections of teachers, students, frontline medical workers and symptomatic patients. The rapid test is said to be capable of delivering results in 15 minutes. So far, the testing equipment has been used on a trial basis with more than 2,700 patients.
  • 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. 

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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Kuwait

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 115,483
  • Recoveries: 107,108
  • Deaths: 694

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 14 October: Government spokesman Tareq al-Mezrem says all Covid-19 preventive measures continue to apply on arrivals to Kuwait, adding it is mandatory for all travellers to present negative PCR test results. All arrivals must also quarantine for 14 days at home, and dismissed rumours that some Arab travellers had been exempted from these requirements. 
  • 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.

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 15 October: Deputy director-general for Kuwait International Airport Affairs, Saleh al-Fadaghi, reportedly says the authority has submitted a proposal to lift the travel ban implemented on 34 countries, calling to resume commercial flights and implementing the 14-day institutional quarantine period in Kuwait for those who are coming from the banned countries. This list of countries includes Egypt, India, Iran, China, Brazil, Colombia, Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Syria, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Pakistan, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan, among others.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Oman

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 108,296
  • Recoveries: 94,229
  • Deaths: 1,071

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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Qatar

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 129,227
  • Recoveries: 126,218
  • Deaths: 223

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 14 October: Quarantine requirements for all nationals, residents and visa holders arriving to Qatar have been extended up to 31 December 2020. Hotels for quarantine must be booked through Discover Qatar. Travellers from low-risk countries may be permitted to quarantine at home, while others must fund a hotel quarantine. 
  • 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. 

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. 
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Iran

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 526,490
  • Recoveries: 423,921
  • Deaths: 30,123

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 17 October: Tehran governor-general Anoushirvan Mohseni Bandpey extends last week's closures on the capital by an additional week. The restrictive measures in Tehran ban all forms of public gathering across the province, including Friday prayers. As per the order, gyms, recreational centers, ceremony halls and coffee shops are shut down as well.
  • 14 October: United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) provides 30,000 hand sanitisers, 12,000 sanitising gel units, 30,000 liquid hand soap bottles, 11,988 sanitary pads and 300,000 masks to address the needs of vulnerable children in Iran in 31 cities across six provinces. 
  • 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."

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 17 October: Flag carrier Iran Air  to resume flights to Cologne, Germany from 30 October.
  • 14 October: European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (Echo) programme allocates $9.4m to help Iran manage and control the pandemic. Unicef will spend the Echo funding to procure diagnosis and treatment equipment for local government entities to use, Tehran Times reports.
  • 10 October: Rouhani says $100m has been allocated to purchase Covid-19 testing kits. 
  • 5 September: Schools reopen after seven months of closures. 
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Egypt

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 105,297
  • Recoveries: 98,157
  • Deaths: 6,109

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 14 October: Minister of Health Hala Zayed calls on the World Health Organisation to provide vaccines for free in low-income countries. She added that Egypt will prioritise frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, chronically ill individuals, pregnant women and individuals with autoimmune diseases once a vaccine is available. 
  • 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 17 October: Ministry of Education says it has an alternative plan to continue classes in case a second wave of Covid-19 disrupts in-class learning. Deputy Minister of Education, Reda Hegazy, says students will be provided access to e-platforms should the need arise. 
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Iraq

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 423,524
  • Recoveries: 357,291
  • Deaths: 10,198

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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Jordan

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 36,053
  • Recoveries: 6,773
  • Deaths: 330

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 14 October: Governor of Jerash, Firas Abu Qaoud, says the isolatrion of the Marsa'a town will continue until Sunday morning as cases grow in the country. The national government has, however, denied plans to impose a comprehensive curfew. Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh names Wael Haiajna named to run the country's Covid-19 response programme.
  • 13 October: Newly appointed Minister for Media Affairs Ali Al Ayed says a comprehensive lockdown in all of the country's governorates will continue on Friday and Saturday. The total 48-hour lockdown will start at 1am on Friday and continue until 1am on Sunday, after which the partial curfew hours will begin, lasting until 6am, during which only authorised persons are allowed to move.
  • 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 17 October: Minister of Health, Nathir Obeidat, meets directors of public hospitals and urges frequent reviews of Covid-19 treatment guidelines and practices.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Lebanon

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 61,284
  • Recoveries: 27,197
  • Deaths: 517

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.

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. 
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Morocco

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 170,911
  • Recoveries: 141,381
  • Deaths: 2,878

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 14 October: Preventive measures announced for Agadir-Ida Ou Tanane, including the closing of restaurants from 11pm and the Souk el-Had shopping complex from 7pm. 
  • 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. 

Measures to minimise the economic crisis: 

  • 14 October: Minister of Economy, Finance and Administrative Reform, Mohamed Benchaâboun, says Covid-19 has forced the Moroccan government to review its priorities and weaknesses. He added that the government will launch a healthcare programme on 1 January 2021 to expand compulsory health insurance for 22 million Moroccans in two years. Separately, Benchaâboun said Rabat has allocated 11 per cent of its GDP to revive the economy, of which 7 per cent will be earmarked for state guarantees, and the rest for the newly formed Mohammed VI Investment Fund. The fund will not intervene directly in economic sectors, however, and will lean on banks to encourage public-private partnerships in Morocco.
  • 13 October: Tourism resumes in Morocco as group of 160 French tourists arrives at Marrakech-Menara International airport on a Royal Air Maroc flight.
  • 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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Libya

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 47,845
  • Recoveries: 26,062
  • Deaths: 699

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19: 

  • 14 October: Abdalla al-Shafee, general manager of Benina airport in Benghazi, denies reports that the facility will commence flights with Tripoli on Friday. He reportedly added that 17 conditions, including the appointment of a specialised disinfection company, repairs to security machines, overdue staff payments and the need for buses, forklifts and fuel, need to be resolved before the airport can reopen. Airlines are also unwilling to fly at half-capacity, as required by the Libyan Anti-Coronavirus Commitee, Libya Herald reported.
  • 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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Tunisia

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 40,542
  • Recoveries: 5,032
  • Deaths: 626

Actions to slow the spread of Covid-19:

  • 15 October: Governor of Sousse, Raja Trabelsi, extends nightly curfew by 10 days to stem the spread of Covid-19. The curfew will be in force in the entire governorate from 8pm to 5am.
  • 14 October: Flag carrier Tunisair finalises measures to be enforced for passengers travelling from high-risk countries, categorised as the 'red zone' of travellers. Passengers must present themselves at the departing airport three hours in advance to commence pre-check in activities, and present two printed copies of payment receipts for a seven-day quarantine at a hotel in Tunisia.
  • 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: 

  • 17 October: Select political parties and national organisations call for requisition of the private health sector (clinics, laboratories and free practice doctors) to back national efforts to combat the coronavirus. Among the signatories who called for enhancing the public health sector to contend with Covid-19 were independents, as well as members of the Workers' Party, the National Democratic Socialist Party, the Popular Current, the Tunisia Forward movement and the General Union of Students of Tunisia, state news agency TAP reported.
  • 13 October: German company Van Laack distributes 10,000 face masks in Bizerte for free. Additionally, the company intends to offer 3,000 medical smocks to the staff of hospitals in the governorate of Bizerte.
  • 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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Algeria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 54,203
  • Recoveries: 37,971
  • Deaths: 1,846

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.”

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.
As of 09.30 GST, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Yemen

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 2,055
  • Recoveries: 1,336
  • 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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.
Syria

Covid-19 pandemic latest:

  • Total confirmed cases: 5,033
  • Recoveries: 1,494
  • Deaths: 245

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, 18 October 2020. Click here for Covid-19 updates in Mena during September 2020.

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