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Iraq, Turkey Set Records for COVID Cases as Tunisia Runs Out of ICU Beds

Iraq, Turkey Set Records for COVID Cases as Tunisia Runs Out of ICU Beds

MENA region fights rising infection rates

While Israel is officially mask-less outdoors as of April 18, the rest of the Middle East is struggling with burgeoning COVID-19 infection rates.

In Tunisia, the hospitals have run out of intensive care beds as a result of a spike in COVID cases, a member of the scientific committee that advises the government said on Thursday, Reuters reported. The committee is contemplating a ban on foreign visitors in an effort to stem the spread of the virus.

Iraq on Wednesday recorded its highest daily number of new COVID infections, 8,696. And Turkey saw its highest number of COVID deaths in a single day, 362.

In Cairo, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly urged the public on Tuesday to be diligent in observing coronavirus safety precautions, as the number of cases continues to climb, which “requires all of us to take extra care,” the Egypt Independent daily reported.

On Thursday, Egypt announced it will manufacture 40 million doses a year of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, according to Reuters. (“V” stands for “Victory” in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.) On April 8, Cairo inked an agreement with Beijing to produce 80 million doses annually of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Syria’s last rebel stronghold, in the northwestern Idlib Province, received its first batch of vaccines on Wednesday, 53,800 AstraZeneca doses sent by the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative.

The United Arab Emirates is considering a “stick” approach to encourage resistant residents to get vaccinated. The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority tweeted on Wednesday a picture of its spokesperson, Dr. Saif Al Dhareri, saying: “Strict measures are being considered to restrict the movement of unvaccinated individuals and to implement preventative measures such as restricting entry to some places and having access to some services, to ensure the safety of everyone.”

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Communications Ministry unveiled on Tuesday a COVID-themed postage stamp titled “Kuwait Fights Coronavirus Pandemic.” It features the country’s recently deceased ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, along with national carrier Kuwait Airways rescuing citizens who were stranded abroad early in the pandemic. The stamp also includes images of first responders.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 5 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.


CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories287,6803,115256,55928,006
Saudi Arabia409,0936,869392,4489,776
United Arab Emirates504,8721,565486,92016,387


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.

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