MENA Countries Showing Effects of Rush to Jump-start Economies

The latest coronavirus information and statistics for the Middle East and North Africa

Governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) could be moving too quickly to reopen their economies, with the easing of restrictions leading to a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases in numerous countries across the region.

According to a survey released on Thursday by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), more than half (54.5%) of Israelis believe that there will be a “second wave” of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the pathogen – and 39% think that the reopening of the economy has been rushed.

Moreover, the eighth in a series of similar polls by the IDI found that the Israeli public’s perception of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s handling of the health crisis is changing.

“At the mid-point of the coronavirus, most Israelis expressed trust in Netanyahu,” Dr. Or Anabi, a researcher at the Guttman Center, told The Media Line. “In the last month, you can see a pretty steep decline in this trust.”

The drop in confidence also applies to Ministry of Finance officials, whom 38% of Israeli respondents expressed trust in, down from 47% in April. By contrast, 61% of those surveyed held Ministry of Health experts in high esteem.

Other nations in the MENA region are also under economic pressure to allows businesses to reopen.

But the latest statistics perhaps offer a cautionary tale.

Having reported 684 coronavirus cases and nine resulting deaths as of Friday, Jordan has managed to contain the outbreak better than most regional states. Nevertheless, the government on Thursday night imposed a three-day nationwide shutdown after a spike in new diagnoses.

“On the whole, [Jordanians have] adhered to the measures and appear to either trust the government or fear the repercussions of violating the restrictions,” Will Todman, an associate fellow in the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Media Line.

Notably, Jordan is fining violators between 100 and 500 Jordanian dinars ($140-$700).

Meanwhile, Lebanon on Thursday extended its lockdown until June 7, whereas Iraq implemented a two-week shutdown in parts of Baghdad, after the easing of regulations in both countries increased the spread of the contagion.

“The [United Arab Emirates] has also re-imposed [various] restrictions and raised fines for violations in recent days,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Todman said. “Authorities are particularly worried about a new wave of cases as people celebrate Eid,” which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

While Israel has not seen a jump in new cases even as most business sectors have resumed operations, the IDI survey shows that many remain on edge.

“We see people going to the beach and restaurants have reopened. It feels like we can go on with our lives, but no,” the IDI’s Anabi said. “There are still large amounts of Israelis afraid to get COVID-19.

“In people’s minds,” he concluded, “the coronavirus is still here.”

The latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 7 a.m. GMT on Friday.

CountryConfirmed casesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Afghanistan8,6761939387,545
Algeria7,7285754,0623,091
Bahrain8,174123,8734,289
Cyprus92317561345
Djibouti2,047101,055982
Egypt15,0036964,21710,090
Iran129,3417,249100,56421,528
Iraq3,8771402,4831,254
Israel16,68327913,7242,680
Jordan6849457218
Kuwait18,6091295,20513,275
Lebanon1,02426663335
Libya7133533
Mauritania17357161
Morocco7,2111964,2802,735
Oman6,370311,8214,518
Pakistan50,6941,06715,20134,426
Palestinian Territories423234675
Qatar38,651177,28831,346
Saudi Arabia65,07735136,04028,686
Somalia1,594612041,329
Sudan3,1381213092,708
Syria5833619
Tunisia1,04647883116
Turkey153,5484,249114,99034,309
United Arab Emirates26,89823712,75513,906
Yemen197335159
Total567,91815,758332,002220,158

 

COUNTRIESCASES*DEATHS*POPULATION
Czechia8,75730610,706,636
Greece2,85316810,428,885
Portugal29,9121,27710,200,144
Jordan684910,190,738
Azerbaijan3,7494410,128,038
Sweden32,1723,87110,091,684
Honduras3,2041569,884,814
UAE26,8982379,875,638
Hungary3,6784769,663,190
Tajikistan2,350449,509,944
Belarus33,3711859,449,686
Austria16,4046339,000,226
Papua New Guinea808,925,443
Serbia10,9192378,741,417
Switzerland30,6941,8988,646,966
Israel16,6902798,638,547
Togo340128,253,526
Sierra Leone462297,956,201
Hong Kong1,06447,489,597
Laos1907,262,376
Paraguay836117,121,704
*Worldometer update as of May 22
Population range from under 11 million to over 7 million

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.