CAIRO, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Iran on Thursday touted that an indigenous vaccine for COVID-19 has "successfully" passed the initial tests; Meanwhile, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 260,000 as the pandemic continued to rage in the kingdom.
Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said Iran has achieved a remarkable success in producing the COVID-19 vaccine. "It has passed the initial tests and we hope to reach promising stages," he said.
Iran's confirmed COVID-19 cases surged to 284,034 on Thursday after 2,621 new infections were confirmed, while the death toll climbed to 15,074 after 221 more deaths were added overnight.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the new surge in COVID-19 infections on the "insufficient attention" paid to the health protocols by some groups of people.
Evaluation of the recent resurgence of the cases suggested that it was not caused by the reopening of economic and social activities, Rouhani told a meeting of the National Headquarters for Managing and Fighting the Coronavirus.
He said that the use of face masks in public and indoor or high-risk places, as well as a ban on gatherings, wedding ceremonies, funerals and parties would be effective ways to deal with the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
In Saudi Arabia, the Health Ministry on Thursday called on the public to follow anti-coronavirus precautions during the upcoming Eid al-Adha, as the kingdom's tally of infections surged to 260,394, after 2,238 new cases were confirmed.
Mohammed Al Abdulaali, the ministry's spokesman, said the death toll in the country rose to 2,635 with the addition of 24 more deaths, while the total recoveries increased to 213,490 after 3,092 more patients recovered.
Turkey's total COVID-19 cases increased by 913 on Thursday to 223,315, while the death toll went up by 18 to 5,563, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
A total of 1,151 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 206,365 in Turkey since the outbreak, Koca said.
In Iraq, the pandemic continued its resurgence as the total number of COVID-19 infections surged to 102,226, after 2,361 new cases were recorded. The death toll reached 4,122 with the addition of 80 more fatalities.
Despite the resurgence, Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority on Thursday resumed regular international flights at the airports of Baghdad, Basra and Najaf.
It said that Erbil and Sulaimaniyah international airports, in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, did not resume the flights, because they were not ready yet to apply the preventive health measures as required.
In Israel, the Health Ministry reported 1,897 new cases of coronavirus infection, leading the total infections in the country to 57,982. The death toll rose to 442, after 12 more fatalities were recorded.
Oman recorded 1,099 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total infections to 72,646, including 355 deaths and 51,349 recoveries.
Kuwait on Thursday reported 687 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths, raising the tally of infections to 61,872 and the death toll to 421.
Tareq Al-Mezrem, the government spokesman, said on Twitter account that Kuwait will start the third-phase plan of restoring normal life on July 28.
The curfew hours will be further reduced during the third phase, while labor capacity will increase to no more than 50 percent, visits to social care homes will be allowed, and hotels and resorts will be allowed to reopen.
Egypt reported on Thursday its highest single-day recoveries from COVID-19, as 991 patients were cured, bringing the total recoveries in the country to 31,066.
Egyptian Health Ministry also confirmed 668 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the tally of infections in the country to 90,413. On the same day, 40 patients died from the novel coronavirus, marking the lowest daily fatalities in nearly six weeks and raising the death toll to 4,480.
Qatar reported 373 new COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 108,244, including 164 deaths and 105,018 recoveries.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced 254 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 57,988, including 50,848 recoveries. The death toll in the UAE remained unchanged from the previous day's 342.
A total of 302 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Morocco on Thursday, bringing the total infections in the country to 18,264, includding 292 deaths and 15,872 recoveries.
In Lebanon, the tally of COVID-19 infections increased on Thursday by 156 cases to 3,260, while the death toll remained at 43.
The National Center for Disease Control of Libya reported 138 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily infections in the war-torn country so far, bringing its tally of infections to 2,314, including 56 deaths and 501 recoveries.
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