Mideast sees coronavirus infections spike after loosening restrictions

By Taha Mohamed

Cairo, Oct 12 (efe-epa).- After relaxing restrictions, almost all the Middle Eastern countries have inched back into an upward trend in Covid-19 infections with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which has reduced testing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In late February, the Lebanese government shut down schools and universities. On 15 March it closed the borders and imposed a curfew that has been eased several weeks later.

With these measures in place the daily cases reported remained in a maximum of two figures until nearly mid-July, when Lebanon registered a then-record of 166 cases.

Almost three months later, this record has been multiplied by over 15 times as Lebanon has reported 2,505 new cases on 2 October, according to the WHO website.

“The rate of infection in Lebanon is 120 per 100,000 people per week, and this percentage, which is considered the peak in the registration of infection, brings us closer to the European scenes,” the caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan warned earlier this week.

Jordan has been through a similar situation. Authorities imposed a total lockdown that lasted for only a few days at early stages of the pandemic, followed by less strict curfew among other measures to successfully contain the virus.

The new cases, however, jumped to a record of 1,824 cases on 6 October with the deaths reaching a record of 22 four days later, nearly double the previous record of 13 registered on 5 October.

The United Arab Emirates has also witnessed a spike in coronavirus cases, with a record 2,258 cases logged earlier this month, although the numbers have since fallen to around 1,000 cases over the past few days.

“I think we are still concerned,” Richard Brennan, the WHO’s Emergency Director for the Eastern Mediterranean region, told Efe.

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