Roundup: Mideast countries tighten restrictive measures due to new COVID-19 strain


  • World
  • Saturday, 26 Dec 2020

CAIRO, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Many countries in the Middle East region have imposed new restrictive measures due to concerns over a new strain of coronavirus. Meanwhile, Turkey's total COVID-19 cases hit 2,118,255 on Friday.

Turkey on Friday reported 17,543 new COVID-19 cases and 256 new deaths, taking the death toll to 19,371.

The country has obliged all international airway passengers flying to it to present a negative COVID-19 test result as of Dec. 28.

All travelers coming from abroad should submit negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results carried out within the last 72 hours before boarding, Turkish authorities said.

The same will be applied for other international passengers arriving in Turkey by land and sea routes as of Dec. 30. Those without tests would be put under quarantine at their addresses where they will reside in the country.

"The new measures were needed for arrivals from abroad due to the increase in the number of cases across the world and the acceleration of the pandemic," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, noting that the new regulation will be effective until March 1, 2021.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey has been taking all the necessary measures for the New Year celebrations to prevent large gatherings to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to reporters after the Friday prayers in Istanbul, Erdogan said security forces would not tolerate New Year's Eve parties in hotels, villas, or any accommodation facilities.

"It is not possible that we would allow these," Erdogan added, noting that the necessary operations would be conducted to these parties to restrain the spread of the coronavirus.

The Turkish leader also noted that the vaccination process in the country would be carried out with vaccines from China and Germany.

"When the vaccines arrive, we will be vaccinated with all our colleagues," Erdogan said, calling on all citizens to act on that matter.

The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Friday 1,140 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 589,943.

The ministry also reported 11 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,755, and 1,531 more recovered cases, bringing the total recoveries to 528,872.

The Iraqi authorities have imposed new restrictive measures to protect the Iraqi people from a new strain of coronavirus that was recently found in many countries and is characterized by faster transmission.

The authorities have decided to ban travel to Britain, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iran, Japan, and any other country the Ministry of Health would recommend.

The authorities also banned the entry of travellers from these countries, except for Iraqi citizens who must be quarantined for 14 days until a PCR test proves they are not infected with the virus.

Moreover, the authorities decided to suspend the ground border crossings, except for emergencies and trade exchange, and to close malls, restaurants, and other public facilities from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for two weeks starting Dec. 24.

Palestine recorded on Friday 1,812 new COVID-19 cases and 21 new deaths in the Palestinian terrorities, bringing the total cases to 147,234 and the death toll to 1,385.

Palestine imposed a full lockdown and curfew on Thursday night, which will remain effective until Sunday morning. All shops and restaurants are closed, except for pharmacies and bakeries.

Iran announced on Friday 6,021 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, raising the tally to 1,189,203 in the country so far.

Of the newly infected, 906 had to be hospitalized, said the spokeswoman for the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education Sima Sadat Lari at her daily briefing.

The pandemic has so far claimed 54,440 lives in Iran, after 132 new deaths from the virus were registered between Thursday and Friday, according to Sadat Lari.

Meanwhile, 933,736 COVID-19 patients have recovered or been released from Iranian hospitals as of Friday, as 5,345 others are still in critical condition, she added.

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 4,889 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total to 394,391.

The death toll of the virus in Israel increased to 3,186 with 16 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 526 to 527, out of 917 hospitalized patients.

Lebanese Caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan announced on Friday that one passenger arriving in Beirut from Britain carries the new variant of COVID-19.

"One case was registered on the flight ME 202 arriving in Beirut from Britain on Monday, and we call on all passengers who were on the plane to be cautious and to take all necessary precautions," Hassan said in a tweet.

The minister added that the ministry is following up on the infected case while he urged all other passengers who were on the same flight to take PCR tests and quarantine.

Morocco announced on Friday 2,329 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally in the North African country to 428,193.

The number of recoveries from the coronavirus in Morocco increased to 391,920 after 3,192 more were added, while the death toll rose by 40 to 7,170.

Kuwait reported 260 new COVID-19 cases, raising the tally of infections to 149,277, while the death toll remained at 926.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 232 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 145,130.

The Qatari health ministry on Friday announced 129 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 142,734.

Meanwhile, 138 more recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 140,542, while the fatalities increased by one to 244.

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