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Coronavirus Mideast Roundup
COVID-19 deaths per million population, as of May 6, 2020. (Dan Polansky and authors of File:BlankMap-World.svg via Wikimedia Commons)

Coronavirus Mideast Roundup

The latest COVID-19 information and statistics for the Middle East and North Africa

Mosques and malls across the Middle East and North Africa region are beginning to reopen their doors as governments ease monthslong restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, analysts caution that these exit strategies motivated by economic concerns aren’t necessarily aligning with the timetable of COVID-19.

“There is no scientific basis for easing coronavirus restrictions anywhere, least of all in countries with limited medical facilities and service provision,” Ben Connable, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, told The Media Line.

As an example, Egypt’s Tourism Minister Khaled al Anani announced on Sunday that in the coming weeks, hotels would partially reopen to domestic tourists and domestic flights would be allowed to start taking off.

But the forecasting based on the most recent data, according to Connable, shows that Egypt is nowhere near ready for tourist activity to begin again.

“Running even a mild-case, single-wave estimate for countries like Egypt suggests that over the next several months, we will see hundreds of thousands of deaths and maximum hospitalization of hundreds of thousands – and in some cases more than one million people – in a given day during peak crisis,” Connable said. “That max hospitalization figure is one that should sober any Middle Eastern leader currently considering easing policies.”

Other MENA countries that have recently announced the reopening of parts of their economies include Bahrain, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

“The decision to start lifting restrictions is more related to economic circumstances,” Emily Estelle, research manager of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Media Line. “Many of these states simply cannot afford to have populations stay at home, particularly the large percentage of people relying on informal urban employment.”

Estelle warned that even with the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, the MENA region could still face an economic crisis and political instability, particularly oil-producing nations if they aren’t able to hold up their end of the bargain with their domestic populations – oil wealth and security in exchange for power.

Indeed, an April report released by the International Monetary Fund predicts that MENA economies will see their biggest slump in four decades due to the coronavirus and low oil prices, with the region contracting by 3.3% during 2020.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of Friday morning at 7 am Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0).

CountryConfirmed casesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories3752176197
Saudi Arabia33,7312197,79825,714
United Arab Emirates16,2401653,57212,503


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