Diary of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Middle East


● REGIONAL UPDATES
Latest developments, plus graphs and statistics relating to Covid-19 in the Middle East and North Africa.

● COUNTRY NARRATIVES
Reports on developments, sorted according to country:
Algeria | Bahrain | Egypt | Iraq | Israel | Jordan | Kuwait | Lebanon | Libya | Morocco | Oman | Palestine | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Sudan | Syria | Tunisia | UAE | Yemen

● SPREADSHEET
Daily statistics of cases and deaths across the region


Regional updates

26 September 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Country-by-country update on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa for the week ending 26 September 2020. Read more...

19 September 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Country-by-country update on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa for the week ending 19 September 2020. Read more...

17 September 2020
A coronavirus puzzle: why do some countries seem less susceptible than others?
There are a few countries in the world where the coronavirus pandemic has not followed the course that scientists expected – and the reasons are puzzling. Read more...

12 September 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Country-by-country update on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa for the week ending 12 September 2020. Read more...

5 September 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Country-by-country update on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa for the week ending 5 September 2020.  Read more...

29 August 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Country-by-country update on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa for the week ending 29 August 2020.  Read more...

29 August 2020 
Coronavirus in the Middle East: a testing time for relations between regimes and their citizens
The coronavirus pandemic is not only testing the ability of governments to manage an unusual kind of crisis – it is also testing their relationship with the people they govern  Read more...

22 August 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
Iraq continues to report the highest number of new infections in the region, with an average of more than 4,000 new cases a day. There are also thought to be large numbers of unreported cases in Iraq. Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia have seen some alarming increases. Read more ...

20 August 2020
Covid-19: Lebanon faces another half-hearted lockdown as infections soar
Lebanon is due to start a two-week lockdown amid a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, though there are doubts about how widely it will be observed or enforced. Read more...

17 August 2020
Coronavirus cases surge in Morocco: what went wrong?
Coronavirus infections have been rising sharply in Morocco over the last few weeks, with a record 1,776 new cases reported on Sunday. Read more...

15 August 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report
The Middle East and North Africa has seen an overall rise in Covid-19 infections during the past week, with an average of almost 13,600 new cases reported each day. Among the 20 countries monitored, only three – Algeria, Iran and Oman – have reported a decrease compared with the week before. Read more ...

11 August 2020
Spate of new Covid-19 cases in Jordan linked to checkpoint on border with Syria
Jordan – so far the most successful of the Arab countries in controlling the coronavirus – has reported a sudden spate of new cases which appear to have aconnection with Syria. Read more...

8 August 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 8 August 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be slowly subsiding in the Middle East and North Africa. A month ago, new infections across the region were running at almost 16,000 a day. Since then, the seven-day daily average has fallen during each of the last four weeks and now stands at 12,357.  
Read more...

1 August 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 1 August 2020
More than 97,000 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Middle East and North Africa during the past week, though many others are not recorded in the official figures. Iran and Iraq are the worst affected – still reporting well over 2,000 new infections every day.  Read more...

25 July 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 25 July 2020
More than 1.2 million people in the Middle East and North Africa have so far been infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus. Across the 20 countries monitored new cases currently average around 14,000 a day. Read more...

18 July 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 18 July 2020
The situation in Israel and Palestine is particularly alarming, and it has worsened considerably during the past week. The outbreaks in Algeria, Lebanon, Oman and Syria also appear to be gathering pace. Meanwhile, the situation seems to be improving in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Read more...

13 July 2020
Coronavirus in Yemen: signs of an end to Aden's deadly plague
When the coronavirus swept into the Yemeni city of Aden there was little to stand in its way. The war-torn country was already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis and this time last month people were falling ill and dying in untold numbers. Since then, though, the virus seems to have left the city and moved on to ravage other areas. Read more...

11 July 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 11 July 2020
More than a million people in the Middle East and North Africa have now been infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus according to official figures, though many more cases have probably gone undetected. Read more...

5 July 2020
Migrants in Oman no longer account for majority of new coronavirus cases
During the last two weeks the Gulf state of Oman has seen a shift in the pattern of its coronavirus epidemic. Previously, most of the new infections were occurring among foreigners – predominantly migrant workers from poor countries. That has now changed and the majority of new cases are Omani citizens. Read more...

4 July 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 4 July 2020
In most countries of the Middle East and North Africa the initial wave of Covid-19 infections has passed its peak but so far only Jordan and Tunisia appear to have brought it under control. Read more...

2 July 2020
'Total lockdown' in West Bank as Palestinian coronavirus cases soar
The Palestinian authorities have declared a total lockdown in the West Bank just five weeks after their previous one was lifted. The decision comes amid a dramatic rise in new Covid-19 infections which has more than doubled the number of known cases in the space of a week. Read more...

30 June 2020
Iraq's healthcare system is spreading coronavirus, report says
Iraq's run-down healthcare system is contributing to the spread of coronavirus rather than helping to contain it, according to a report issued last week. Read more...

27 June 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 20 June 2020
Weekly round-up on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa, tracing the course of the epidemic country by country. Read more...

24 June 2020
Israelis and Palestinians grapple with a new wave of coronavirus infections
Until recently Israel and Palestine seemed to have brought their coronavirus epidemics under control but both are now seeing large numbers of new infections. Yesterday Israel reported 430 new cases – its biggest rise for two months. Palestine reported 179 – its highest number since the outbreak began. Read more...

22 June 2020
Hundreds infected in Morocco as coronavirus hits strawberry packers
The Moroccan army has set up an emergency field hospital to care for hundreds of strawberry packers who have tested positive for coronavirus over the last few days. Read more...

21 June 2020
Saudi Arabia ends coronavirus lockdown amid surge in new infections
Saudi Arabia ended its coronavirus lockdown this morning despite record numbers of new infections during the past week. Read more...

20 June 2020
Covid-19 in the Middle East: situation report for week ending 20 June 2020
This is the first in a series of weekly situation reports on coronavirus in the Middle East and North Africa, tracing the course of the epidemic country by country. Read more...

19 June 2020
Coronavirus quarantine – Qatari style
Qatari citizens wishing to return home from abroad must first get the government's permission and then spend two weeks in quarantine when they arrive. It's a kind of luxurious imprisonment – at their own expense. Read more... 

18 June 2020
Palestinians report surge of coronavirus cases in West Bank
Palestinian authorities have reported a surge of coronavirus infections. Seventy-four new cases have been confirmed since Monday, mostly in the West Bank district of Hebron. This comes after several weeks when new cases were averaging less than four a day. Read more...

17 June 2020
Bahrain and Kuwait accused of privacy breaches in coronavirus apps
Amnesty International has accused Bahrain and Kuwait of running "roughshod over people's privacy" in their use of surveillance technology during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more...

16 June 2020
Egypt prepares to welcome foreign tourists as coronavirus epidemic worsens
On Sunday Egypt announced that it will be ready to receive foreign tourists again in a couple of weeks. On Monday it announced a record number of new coronavirus cases and a record number of related deaths. Read more...

15 June 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for June 15
Saudi Arabia reported 4,233 new Covid-19 infections yesterday – the kingdom's highest daily total so far. Read more...

14 June 2020
Yemen's health system is collapsing as coronavirus spreads, UN warns
The health system in Yemen is "overwhelmed and collapsing" as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, the UN body that coordinates relief in emergencies and natural disasters has warned. Read more...

13 June 2020
Coronavirus: the invisible killer in Sudan's Darfur region
According to health ministry figures only a couple of hundred people have been infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus in Sudan's Darfur region but reports from this remote and troubled part of the country tell a different story. Read more...

12 June 2020
The ups and downs of coronavirus in the Middle East
More than half a million people in the Middle East and North Africa have now been infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus according to official figures, and the number is increasing by about 12,000 every day. Read more...

11 June 2020
Tunisia, almost free of coronavirus, prepares to welcome tourists
With no new cases reported during the last seven days, Tunisia looks like becoming the first Arab country to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. Read more...

10 June 2020
Coronavirus in Libya: everything that could go wrong is going wrong
The UN's latest report on the coronavirus situation in Libya makes grim reading. Just about everything that could go wrong is going wrong. Read more...

9 June 2020
Syrian town sealed off as cross-border truck drivers test positive for coronavirus
Syria has imposed a lockdown on the town of Ras al-Ma'ara following a cornavirus outbreak there which has so far resulted in 20 people becoming infected. This is the largest cluster of related cases reported by the Syrian authorities since the pandemic began. Read more...

8 June 2020
Two unwelcome milestones in Saudi Arabia's coronavirus epidemic
Saudi Arabia's Covid-19 epidemic passed two unwelcome milestones at the weekend when the daily number of new cases rose above 3,000 for the first time and the overall total of confirmed cases crossed the 100,000 mark. Read more...

7 June 2020
Covid-19 infections rise in Israel, raising fears of second wave
Israel has seen a rise in Covid-19 infections since easing its lockdown, raising fears that a second wave of the epidemic may be on the way. Read more...

6 June 2020
Covid-19 cases surge in Iraq as health ministry blames non-compliance by the public
Iraq reported 1,006 new Covid-19 cases on Friday – by far the highest number since the epidemic began. Read more...

5 June 2020
A big step towards normality in Jordan as coronavirus retreats
Life in Jordan will look much more normal from Saturday. Cafes, restaurants, hotels, mosques and churches previously closed to due coronavirus will be allowed to reopen along with sports clubs, nurseries and tourist sites. Read more...

4 June 2020
Oman must 'learn to live' with coronavirus, health minister says as new cases surge
Oman is attempting to lift restrictions while its Covid-19 epidemic is still growing. During the past week confirmed cases in Oman have risen by 62%. Read more...

3 June 2020
Coronavirus cases soar in Iran as epidemic's second wave strikes
Iran's health ministry reported 3,117 new Covid-10 cases on Tuesday. This is the highest daily figure since the end of March – and a clear sign that a second wave of the epidemic is now under way. Read more...

2 June 2020
Coronavirus: Morocco prepares for life after lockdown
By world standards, Morocco's Covid-19 epidemic was never very large and it's steadily getting smaller. At the peak in April, new cases were averaging more than 200 a day but the average during the past week has been only 43 a day. Read more...

1 June 2020
Yemen's Houthis admit suppressing news of Covid-19 epidemic to avoid 'lowering morale'
The health minister in one of Yemen's two rival governments has defended its policy of concealing information about the Covid-19 epidemic in the areas it controls.  Read more...

31 May 2020
Covid-19: Qatar takes a short cut to recovery
There was good news from Qatar yesterday ... well, sort of. The Gulf state announced that 5,235 people with Covid-19 infections had recovered during the previous 24 hours. This was the highest number of recoveries so far in a single day, far outstripping the number of new cases in the same period. Read more...

30 May 2020
Covid-19 cases rise in Israel, especially in schools, as restrictions are eased
Until Thursday, Israel's coronavirus epidemic – which has so far infected more than 16,000 people – seemed to be fizzling out. For most of this month new cases were averaging only 25 a day as the country began emerging from its lockdown but now there has been a sudden rise. Read more...

29 May 2020
Sisi denounces 'enemies of the homeland' who question Egypt's Covid-19 performance
Egypt's official tally of new Covid-19 infections rose above 1,000 for the first time on Thursday as President Sisi warned that his regime's handling of the crisis must not be questioned. Read more...

28 May 2020
Covid-19: Algeria and Morocco continue using chloroquine despite concerns
Health authorities in Algeria and Morocco say they intend to continue treating Covid-19 patients with anti-malaria drugs despite safety concerns raised by the World Health Organisation. Read more...

27 May 2020
In Yemen, Aden buries its dead while Houthis bury their heads in the sand
There used to be about ten burials a day in the cemeteries of Yemen's second city, Aden, but since Covid-19 arrived the number has risen to around 80 a day. Read more...

26 May 2020
Coronavirus in Sudan sets the health minister and the public at odds
According to official figures, there are now almost 4,000 Covid-19 cases in Sudan – a third of them recorded during the past week. Those are the ones known to the authorities but health minister Akram Ali al-Tom readily acknowledges that the real number is higher. Read more...

25 May 2020
Secretive but successful? Syria's campaign against coronavirus
If official reports are to be believed it's now more than three weeks since any Syrian living under the Assad regime's rule has become infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus. Read more...

24 May 2020
Egypt seeks to revive tourism as Covid-19 epidemic worsens
On Friday, for the first time since March, 68 visitors checked into hotels in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. Egypt is under economic pressure to re-start its tourism industry but the timing is far from auspicious. Read more...

23 May 2020
Tunisia looks to the future as Covid-19 recedes
Yesterday Tunisia's health ministry announced the results of 1,320 Covid-19 tests. Only six were positive and of those, only two were new cases. The other four were re-tests of people previously diagnosed with the virus. Read more...

22 May 2020
Sharp rise in Covid-19 infections among Palestinians in Gaza
Covid-19 infections in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza have more than doubled over the last few days, rising from 20 to 55. Read more...

21 May 2020
Egypt shortens quarantine period for citizens returning to the country
Faced with a shortage of places for quarantining Egyptians who return from abroad, the authorities have adopted an original – if dangerous – solution. To create more space, they have reduced the mandatory quarantine period from 14 days to seven. Read more...

20 May 2020
Military takes charge of supermarkets hit by coronavirus in Kuwait
Kuwait has assigned its National Guard to take over the running of supermarkets where staff have been struck down by the Covid-19 coronavirus. Read more...

19 May 2020
Jordan: 91 people infected after truck driver flouted coronavirus quarantine rules
By May 6, Jordan had gone ten days without any Covid-19 infections coming to light inside the country. Since then, though, there have been 166 new cases – more half of them linked to a single truck driver. Read more...

18 May 2020
Qatar – the world's most coronavirus-infected country
In proportion to its size Qatar has recorded more Covid-19 infections than almost anywhere else in the world. Its high level of infections is surpassed only by two micro-states – the Vatican City and San Marino. Read more...

17 May 2020
Deaths mount in Yemen as Covid-19 competes with other killer diseases
Many people are dying in the Yemen's southern city of Aden and no one is quite sure why. Maybe it's coronavirus but it could be dengue fever, chikungunya, ebola, malaria, pneumonic plague or something else, according to the head of the National Emergency Committee. Read more...

16 May 2020
Iran heads for a second wave of Covid-19 infections
Coronavirus infections in Iran are increasing again and the country's epidemic looks to be heading for a second wave. The first wave peaked at the end of March. Throughout the following month new cases dropped steadily but since then they have been rising again. Read more...

15 May 2020
Libya and coronavirus: gunfire in the intensive care unit
Unidentified militiamen entered the intensive care unit at al-Jala hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sunday and opened fire. Medical staff escaped with their lives but seven respirators were badly damaged, along with an ultrasound machine and several monitors. Read more...

14 May 2020
For first time in Saudi Arabia, Covid-19 recoveries exceed new infections
Every day this month Saudi Arabia has reported more new Covid-19 infections than any other country in the Middle East. There are signs, though, that the Saudi epidemic may have peaked. For the first time since the outbreak began, the number of people newly-recovered from the virus has exceeded the number of newly-infected. Read more...

13 May 2020
Lebanon imposes 'total' shutdown as Covid-19 infections rise
Considering Lebanon's political and economic chaos its efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 infections have been surprisingly effective. Eleven weeks after the virus first arrived in the country there have been only 870 confirmed cases among a population of almost seven million. Read more...

12 May 2020
Coronavirus epidemic is receding in Tunisia
Yesterday, for the first time since March 8, Tunisia reported no new cases of Covid-19. This is just one of several hopeful signs that the virus is receding. Official figures show the recovery rate is now higher than the infection rate, and the number of currently-active cases has more than halved since the beginning of this month. Read more...

11 May 2020
Round-the-clock curfew in Kuwait as Covid-19 infections spread among workers at supermarkets
Kuwait has been placed under a round-the-clock curfew following the discovery of a major Covid-19 outbreak among employees at supermarkets. One large Kuwaiti chain, the Khaldya Cooperative Society, shut its doors until further notice after 103 workers – about 40% of its total staff – tested positive for the virus. Read more...

10 May 2020
Coronavirus: India begins repatriating citizens from the Gulf
Indian citizens have begun returning home from Arab states in the Gulf as part of a massive operation to repatriate them.  Read more...

9 May 2020
Jordan moves to block Covid-19 infections coming from Saudi Arabia
Jordan announced new measures yesterday to stem the spread of Covid-19 infections from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.  Read more...

8 May 2020
Sudden resurgence of Covid-19 infections in Jordan
A sudden spate of new Covid-19 infections in Jordan shows how easily the virus can return even when it appears to have been suppressed. Read more...

7 May 2020
Test results show Yemen's Houthis are concealing Covid-19 cases
Evidence has emerged that the Houthi movement's unrecognised government in northern Yemen is concealing Covid-19 infections even after they have been confirmed. Read more...

6 May 2020
New Covid-19 infections raise fears of a worst-case scenario in Yemen
The Houthis who rule over much of northern Yemen have now confirmed what many had long suspected: that the Covid-19 virus is present in the territory they control. Read more...

5 May 2020
Workers in Saudi Arabia face 40% pay cuts due to coronavirus crisis
Saudi firms that run into financial trouble because of the coronavirus epidemic will be allowed to cut workers' wages by 40% – and then sack them after six months. Read more...

4 May 2020
Egypt prepares to 'coexist' with Covid-19 virus
As coronavirus infections continue to rise in Egypt, the health minister blames the public for ignoring restrictions and warns that the country will have to "coexist" with the virus until a vaccine is found. Read more...

3 May 2020
Hospitals shut their doors as plague upon plague hits Yemen
Ten Covid-19 cases have now been confirmed in war-torn Yemen where health services face an increasingly desperate situation. Aside from coronavirus, they are already struggling with at least two other plagues – dengue fever and chikungunya. Read more...

2 May 2020
Covid-19 lockdown meets resistance in Sudan as infections rise
Sudan's Covid-19 outbreak is still in its early stages but growing fast. Confirmed cases have more than doubled over the last five days and now total 533. Read more...

1 May 2020
More than 80,000 arrested in Morocco for violating coronavirus lockdown
Police in Morocco have arrested more than 80,000 people during the last six weeks for violating the coronavirus lockdown, according to official figures. Read more...

30 April 2020
Disasters multiply as Covid-19 resurfaces in Yemen
Covid-19 has reappeared in Yemen with the announcement of five new cases in the southern city of Aden. This could scarcely have come at a worse time. Read more...

29 April 2020
Kuwait repatriates thousands of migrants amid coronavirus fears
Thousands of undocumented migrant workers are awaiting repatriation from Kuwait under a government scheme aimed at countering the spread of Covid-19. Read more...

28 April 2020
Middle East updates: Covid-19 spreads in most countries, subsides in others
The epidemic continues to grow in the Arab states of the Gulf (especially in Qatar and Saudi Arabia) and also in three North African states – Egypt, Morocco and Algeria. On the other hand, there are signs it is subsiding in Iran, Israel, Palestine, Jordan and – possibly – Syria. Read more...

27 April 2020
Algeria eases restrictions in province at centre of coronavirus epidemic
In a controversial move to mark the start of Ramadan, the Algerian government has eased restrictions in Blida – the province at the centre of the country's Covid-19 epidemic. Read more...

26 April 2020
Saudi Arabia eases restrictions – though Covid-19 cases continue to rise
Saudi Arabia has announced an easing of its coronavirus restrictions to allow for "the return of some economic activities in line with health instructions". On the face of it, this could be a risky move. Read more...

25 April 2020
Coronavirus in Libya: few confirmed cases but the prospects look bleak
So far, Libya has only 61 confirmed cases of Covid-19 but limited capacity for testing means an unknown number of infections are going undetected. At the same time, Libya faces a series of additional problems that make tackling the virus more difficult. Read more...

24 April 2020
Recovery of Yemen's only Covid-19 patient puts country in the clear – for now
Yemen is officially clear of coronavirus cases following the recovery of its first – and so far only – Covid-19 patient. Read more...

23 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Cases in Saudi Arabia have doubled in a week
In Saudi Arabia the number of known Covid-19 infections has more than doubled during the past week. Read more...

22 April 2020
Middle East updates: Coronavirus spreads to three Moroccan prisons
More than 60 cases of Covid-19 have been detected at a prison in Morocco. This is the third outbreak in the country's jails which altogether hold about 80,000 prisoners. Read more...

21 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Amid hopeful signs, Jordan lifts more restrictions
Jordan is taking further steps to ease restrictions amid signs that the country's Covid-19 outbreak is subsiding. From today, a specified range of businesses can reopen. Read more...

20 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: A question of nationality in Kuwait
Kuwait's health ministry is discriminating between Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis in its allocation of treatment for Covid-19 patients, according to a document circulated on social media. Read more...

19 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Jordan begins a gradual re-opening
Today, shops, businesses and government offices are re-opening in Jordan's southern province of Aqaba.  This is the first step in what the government hopes will be a gradual return to something resembling normality in an area which is officially free of Covid-19 infections. Read more...
 
18 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Sudan's cases double in a single day
The total of known Covid-19 infections in Sudan has more than doubled since yesterday. Following the latest batch of test results there are now 66 confirmed cases and there are signs that the spread of the virus there is becoming more difficult to contain. Read more...
 
17 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Migrant workers bear the brunt of the Gulf's epidemic 
Migrant workers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus epidemic in the wealthy Gulf states. Often living in over-crowded accommodation, they are at particular risk of infection. Many are now also jobless. Some have been deported. Thousands more want to return home – but can't. Read more...
 
16 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Why Iraq's official figures are wrong
A couple of weeks ago Reuters news agency reported that Iraq probably has several thousand more Covid-19 cases than the official figures show. Read more...
 
15 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Algerian president says situation is 'under control'
The coronavirus situation in Algeria is "under control" according to President Tebboune, and "stable" according to the health minister. Despite these assurances, the level of testing for Covid-19 in Algeria remains low and of the 2,070 people so far confirmed as having been infected, 326 – 16% of them – have died. Read more...

14 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: Infection spreads among Gulf's migrant workers
Arab states in the Gulf are reporting large numbers of new Covid-19 infections among migrant workers. Read more...

13 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: spread of infections is slowing down
Although there's no doubt that the virus is still spreading, figures published over the last few weeks show that in the region as a whole it is spreading more slowly than it was – presumably as a result of lockdowns, curfews and other preventive measures. Read more...

12 April 2020
Egyptian police disperse protest against burial of coronavirus victim
Police in Egypt used tear gas on Saturday to disperse protesters who were trying to prevent the burial of a doctor who died after being infected by coronavirus. Read more...

11 April 2020
Middle East coronavirus updates: UAE is testing, testing, testing ...
While many countries are struggling to raise levels of testing for the Covid-19 virus, the UAE has been pressing ahead and has now carried out almost 600,000 tests. This is far more than any other country in the Middle East. Read more...

10 April 2020
Middle East updates: Coronavirus arrives in Yemen
Coronavirus has now arrived in Yemen. The country's first case of Covid-19 was reported early today in ash-Shihr, a small port on the Indian Ocean coast of Hadramaut province. Read more...

9 April 2020
Middle East updates: Saudis call ceasefire in Yemen amid coronavirus fears
War-torn Yemen is one of the few countries in the world where no Covid-19 cases have yet been reported, but it's widely expected that if the virus does take hold there the result will be catastrophic. Yesterday, at the behest of the UN's special envoy, the Saudi-led coalition which has been fighting Houthi forces for the last five years announced a ceasefire. Read more...

8 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia issues dire warning and appeals for the public's help
The Saudi government warned yesterday that Covid-19 infections in the kingdom could rise to 200,000 over the next few weeks – more than 70 times the current official figure – and appealed for more cooperation from the public. Read more...

7 April 2020
Middle East governments enlist mobile phone technology in battle against coronavirus
At least three countries in the Middle East are resorting to technology based around mobile phones in their efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus. The three – Bahrain, Israel and the UAE – are using it in different ways but the underlying principle is the same in each of them. Mobile phones can tell the authorities where you are, and where you have been. Read more...

6 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: UAE imposes tough new restrictions
Residents of the UAE must cover their mouth and nose and wear gloves at all times when outside their home, the government announced at the weekend. But that's the easiest part. Before you can go out, you also have to get permission from the police. Read more...

5 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Egypt sends medical aid to Italy
Egypt's health minister, Hala Zayed, arrived in Italy yesterday for a "solidarity" visit, together two military planes bringing medical aid from Egypt. Read more...

4 April 2020
Middle East updates: Israel rations coronavirus testing; health minister under fire
In a sudden reversal of policy, Israel's health ministry has announced a cutback in coronavirus testing. Supplies of the essential chemical reagent are running low and in an effort to conserve them testing will, in effect, be rationed. Read more...

3 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Algeria's death toll rises sharply
In the Middle East and North Africa region, Algeria now has the highest death toll linked to coronavirus outside Iran. Read more...

2 April 2020 
Coronavirus in the Middle East: why Egypt rationed testing
The Egyptian authorities have been taking exception to suggestions that there are far more coronavirus cases in the country than official figures reveal. Read more...

1 April 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: situation in Egypt is 'reassuring', Sisi says
Egypt's efforts to control the spread of coronavirus are "good and reassuring", President Sisi claimed yesterday as the authorities reported 54 new cases and five more deaths. Read more...

31March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: how death rates vary around the region
During the last 24 hours, a further 145 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the Middle East and North Africa. Of these, 117 were in Iran and 28 in the rest of the region. Read more...

30 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: social distancing 'is a privilege' of the better-off
In most of the Middle East, as in many other parts of the world, social distancing is the order of the day. People are being urged to stay at home and minimise contact with others. Sensible as that might be, in the teeming slums of Cairo, in the camps for displaced people in Syria and Iraq, in the compounds housing migrant workers in the Gulf, isolation it is not a practical option. Read more...

29 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: the importance of testing
One problem in monitoring the coronavirus pandemic is that nobody really knows how many people have been infected. A growing number of new cases can be one indicator of how fast the virus is spreading, but that has to be weighed against other factors. Read more...

28 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: how death tolls diverge among Arab states
Since the beginning of March striking differences have emerged in the course of the coronavirus epidemic among Arab countries – especially in the numbers of deaths. Read more...

27 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: social distancing, Egyptian style; plus today's updates
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. Read more...

26 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: the looming problem of Ramadan, plus today's updates
Throughout the Middle East, governments of all political complexions are trying to check the spread of coronavirus. Lockdowns, curfews, quarantine and social distancing are the order of the day. But there's something else looming: Ramadan is just four weeks away and the question is what will happen then. Read more...

25 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia seals off cities as new cases soar
Amid rapidly-growing numbers of new infections and the first two coronavirus-related deaths, Saudi Arabia is sealing off the cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina. From tomorrow, no one will be allowed to leave or enter. Read more...

24 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Algeria cracks down amid a shortage of test kits
With new coronavirus cases in Algeria increasing at an alarming rate, on Monday President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced a complete curfew in Blida province which is the seat of more than half of the 230 confirmed infections. Read more...

23 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: nationwide curfews in four Arab countries
Four Arab countries have now declared nationwide curfews in an effort to check the spread of coronavirus ... Read more

22 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: first cases in Gaza, plus worries about non-compliance
There's alarm in a growing number of Middle Eastern countries about members of the public who are not complying with the rules on self-isolation and social distancing. As a result, the authorities are resorting to ever more draconian measures in their effort to combat coronavirus ... Read more

21 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Troops enforce round-the-clock curfew in Jordan
Sirens sounded in Jordan at 7am this morning to mark the start of a strict round-the-clock curfew enforced by thousands of troops. Shops are closed and anyone violating the curfew faces up to a year in jail ... read more

20 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Israel cracks down on non-compliance as new cases soar
The number of people in Israel known to have been infected with coronavirus rose by 56% yesterday with the confirmation of 501 new cases. Israel's cumulative total – 677 cases since the outbreak began – is now the highest in the Middle East apart from Iran  ... read more

19 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Jordan invokes wartime powers
From today Jordan's capital, Amman, is sealed off by the military and movement between the country's 12 governorates is prohibited. There are also restrictions on movement within the governorates. This follows a royal decree activating activating Jordan's National Defence Law, intended mainly for times of war, which gives the prime minister extraordinary powers ... read more

18 March 2020
Middle East updates: Egypt warns journalists over coronavirus reports
The Egyptian government has accused reporters from the Guardian and the New York Times of violating "all the rules of journalistic work" in connection with the country's coronavirus epidemic ... read more

17 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 17
Iran reported 1,053 new coronavirus cases on Monday, with a further 129 deaths. Elsewhere in the Middle East, a further 216 cases have been confirmed since yesterday's update ... read more

16 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: Israel's surveillance plan, plus latest updates
In today's report: Israel calls on Shin Bet to track coronavirus contacts; stringent new measures in Saudi Arabia; doubts over coronavirus "rapid tests" ... read more

15 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: latest updates as the epidemic gathers pace
Outside Iran, the epidemic in the rest of the region is clearly gathering pace. The numbers of new cases are now almost three times what they were a week ago. During the last four days the average has been 220 new cases per day compared with an average of only 77 per day during the previous four days ... read more

14 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: latest updates, plus the question of Gaza
Although there are 35 known coronavirus cases among Palestinians in the West Bank, so far none have been diagnosed in Gaza. Given the siege conditions in Gaza, it's widely believed that an outbreak there would be catastrophic – and it may only be a matter of time ... read more

13 March 2020
Coronavirus: Middle East countries are not providing enough information, WHO says
Governments in the Middle East are not providing enough information about coronavirus cases in their countries, the regional director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Thursday ... read more

12 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: ominous signs as new cases soar
The coronavirus epidemic took a dramatic and terrifying turn in the Middle East on Wednesday. The total of known cases outside Iran leapt by 60% in a single day to 1,056. The number of confirmed new cases was 420 – almost five times the highest one-day increase reported previously. By far the largest increases were in Qatar and Bahrain ... read more

11 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 11
On Tuesday Iran reported 54 more deaths from coronavirus, bringing the total to 291. The daily death toll has risen on each of the last five days, and Tuesday's figure is the highest yet recorded. Elsewhere in the Middle East, 71 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total to 636. Israel had the largest increase with 25 new cases ... read more

10 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: a hopeful sign in Iran?
Iran reported 595 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the official total to 7,161. Although the official figures need to be treated with caution there are tentative signs that Iran's situation may be improving. The number of coronavirus cases in Israel has doubled during the last two days and now stands at 50. This prompted prime minister Netanyahu to announce that everyone entering the country must go into self-quarantine for two weeks ... read more

9 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 9
Iran, the Middle Eastern country most affected by the coronavirus epidemic, reported 743 new cases on Sunday, bringing the official total to 6,566. For the second day running there was a drop in the number of new cases reported in Iran but the number of deaths – 49 – was the highest so far reported in a single day. Across the rest of the region there are 491 confirmed cases – an increase of 76 since yesterday's update ... read more

8 March 2020
New coronavirus cases surge in the Arab countries
Iran reported 1,076 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the official total to 5,823. Across the rest of the Middle East the total is much lower – 415 confirmed cases – but the overall trend is now relentlessly upwards. On Friday, the number of new cases, which had not previously risen above 30 in a single day, suddenly surged to 61. Saturday's tally shows a further big rise ... read more

7 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: sudden spike in new cases
Iran reported 1,234 new coronavirus cases on Friday. Elsewhere in the Middle East there are 61 new cases – by far the highest daily increase since the epidemic began. It brings the cumulative total for the region (excluding Iran) to 328 ... read more

6 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: new cases slowing down in Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain
In the ten days since al-bab began tracking, 210 new cases have been confirmed in the region outside Iran and the number of countries affected has grown from eight to 14, with the West Bank of Palestine the latest addition to the list ... read more

5 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 5
The largest number of new cases in the region outside Iran was in Algeria – all involving members of the same family. In addition, there are four suspected new Palestinian cases at a hotel in Beit Jala on the West Bank  ... read more

4 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 4
Iran reported 835 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the official (but disputed) total to 2,336. Also on Tuesday, Iran's civil defence chief, Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, made the extraordinary suggestion that his country has been subjected to a biological attack.  ... read more

3 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 3
Iran reported a further huge increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on Monday. The official figure now stands at 1,501, with 66 deaths so far, though the official figures are disputed. On Tuesday, local media reported that 23 members of Iran's parliament are among those infected  ... read more

2 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 2 
There's good news from Iran – at least, according to health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour. On Sunday he announced that Iran has "been able to cure" more coronavirus patients than another other country apart from China ... read more

1 March 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: updates for March 1
Amid accusations that Iran is trying to conceal the full scale of its coronavirus epidemic, the health ministry revised its statistics upwards on Saturday. The official tally of COVID-19 cases is now 593 – an increase of 205 on Friday's figure. Iran's official death toll has also been revised from 34 to 43. Despite these revisions, there's a widespread belief that the true figures are much higher ... read more

29 February 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: February 29 updates
Iran announced on Friday that the number of coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 388, with 34 deaths so far (among a population of more than 80 million). These official figures are widely disbelieved and it's likely the actual totals are much higher ... read more

28 February 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: February 28 updates
Thirteen new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Middle East since Thursday's update – six in the UAE, two each in Oman and Kuwait, and one each in Iraq, Israel and Lebanon ... read more

27 February 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: February 27 updates
Twenty-five new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Arab countries since Wednesday's update – 17 in Kuwait, seven in Bahrain and one in Iraq ... read more

26 February 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: February 26 updates
Twenty-three new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Arab countries since yesterday's report, and Algeria is a newcomer to the list. Excluding Iran (where details are very confused), the latest tally of cases in the rest of the Middle East region is as follows ... read more

25 February 2020
Coronavirus in the Middle East: the latest developments
Coronavirus cases have now been reported in nine countries in the Middle East. The outbreak in Iran is clearly the most serious in the region, and it may be more extensive than the official figures suggest. Elsewhere in the region the number of cases is small and no deaths have been reported so far ... read more