Coronavirus in the Middle East: social distancing, Egyptian style; plus today's updates

How to spread coronavirus: the Egyptian health minister gives a practical demonstration

Anyone who still doubts that Egypt is heading for a coronavirus catastrophe should take a look at the picture above. It shows the health minister setting the worst possible example by holding a news conference in a room packed with more than 50 people.

It's generally believed that Egypt has far more cases than the official figure (currently 495) suggests, and the Guardian's correspondent in Cairo, Ruth Michaelson, has now been forced to leave the country for writing about a scientific study which said so.

Meanwhile – presumably in the forlorn hope of attracting tourists back, they have been sweeping the area around the pyramids and spraying it with disinfectant.

Of course, there's a night-time curfew but here are some examples via Twitter of what happens during the daytime ...

Latest updates

Iran reported 2,389 new coronavirus cases and a further 157 deaths. This brings the government's official totals to 29,406 confirmed cases and 2,234 deaths since the outbreak began.

Elsewhere in the Middle East 998 new cases have been reported since yesterday's update, bringing the cumulative total to 8,139.

Algeria 367 (+65)
Bahrain 458 (+1)
Egypt 495 (+39)
Iraq 382 (+36)
Israel 3,035 (+540)
Jordan 212 (+40)
Kuwait 225 (+17)
Lebanon 368 (+35)
Libya 1 (-)
Morocco 275 (+50)
Oman 131 (+22)
Palestine 91 (+5)
Qatar 549 (+12)
Saudi Arabia 1,012 (+112)
Sudan 3 (-)
Syria 5 (-)
Tunisia 197 (+24)
UAE 333 (-)

TOTAL: 8,139 (+998)

Daily totals of new COVID-19 cases in the Middle East (excluding Iran) since March 1

A further 26 deaths were reported in the region (excluding Iran), bringing the total to 128. This is the current list:

Algeria 25
Bahrain 4
Egypt 24
Iraq 36
Israel 10
Lebanon 6
Morocco 10
Palestine 1
Saudi Arabia 3
Sudan 1
Tunisia 5

TOTAL: 128

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