Roundup: Turkish president, Jordanian king receive COVID-19 vaccine; Iraq bans citizens from traveling to 20 countries with new coronavirus variant

CAIRO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Jordan's King Abdullah II on Thursday received the COVID-19 vaccine, respectively. Meanwhile, Iraq announced a ban on its citizens from travelling to 20 countries where a new coronavirus variant was found.

Erdogan received his first dose of vaccine at a hospital in capital Ankara, as Turkey has started mass vaccination for COVID-19 after approving the emergency use of a vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech.

"Unfortunately, there are negative campaigning (about vaccinations). But I believe that my nation with common sense will not give room to these. They will give the best answer with the vaccine," the president said, while calling political party leaders and lawmakers to urge people to endorse the vaccine.

Turkey reported 8,962 new COVID-19 cases and 170 more fatalities from the deadly disease, pushing its tally of infections to 2,364,801 and its death toll to 23,495. The total number of recoveries in Turkey climbed to 2,236,938 with the addition of 9,011 new recoveries.

Jordan's Royal Court said in a statement that besides the king, Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal and Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II also received the vaccine, as part of the vaccination campaign that started Wednesday.

Jordan reported 1,075 new COVID-19 cases and 16 more deaths from the virus on Thursday, taking its total infections to 312,043 and its death toll to 4,107. The tally of recoveries in the kingdom rose by 1,271 to 294,802.

The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said it has issued directives to all airlines operating in Iraq to prevent Iraqi citizens from travelling to 20 countries where the new strain of coronavirus appeared.

It also banned the entry of travellers from these countries to Iraq, except for Iraqi citizens, who must be quarantined for 14 days until tests prove they are not infected with the new strain of the virus.

The 20 countries in the Iraqi travel ban are Britain, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain, Brazil, the United States, India, Australia, Japan, South Africa, and Zambia.

Iraq reported 770 new COVID-19 cases and seven more fatalities from the disease, bringing the total nationwide tally to 606,186 and its death toll to 12,922.

Iran announced on Thursday 6,471 new COVID-19 cases, raising the country's overall count to 1,311,810.

The COVID-19 death toll in Iran surged by 81 to 56,538, while its tally of recoveries soared by 7,211 to 1,101,599, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

Israel's total number of COVID-19 cases surged to 528,204 after 10,933 new cases were recorded, while its death toll climbed to 3,860 with the addition of 57 more fatalities.

The total recoveries in Israel rose by 10,357 to 446,175, while the number of critical cases climbed to 1,117, the highest since the pandemic outbreak last year.

Morocco confirmed 1,279 new coronavirus infections and 44 more deaths, raising its total confirmed COVID-19 cases to 456,334 and its total deaths to 7,854. The tally of recoveries in the kingdom rose by 1,889 to 431,167.

Saudi Arabia reported 169 new COVID-19 cases and six more fatalities on Thursday, taking its tally of infections to 364,440 and its death toll to 6,310. The total recoveries in the kingdom increased by 188 to 356,201.

Palestine announced on Thursday a two-week extension of the lockdown measures against the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ibrahim Milhem, the Palestinian government spokesman, said in a press statement that all universities and institutes of all levels will continue the home-based e-learning.

Milhem announced a full ban on public and private transportation between the West Bank districts, except for medical staff and the Ministry of Education staff. Sports clubs, barbershops, indoors recreational facilities, restaurants, and cafes are allowed to operate with no more than 30 percent of their staff.

Palestine reported 736 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, raising the total number in the Palestinian territories to 169,388 since March 2020.

The Omani Health Ministry announced 178 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number in the sultanate to 131,264, and one more death, taking its death toll to 1,509. The overall recoveries in Oman rose by 178 to 123,593.

Kuwait reported 560 new COVID-19 cases, raising its tally of infections to 156,434, while the death toll remained unchanged at 946.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 252 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 150,061.

In Qatar, the health ministry reported 209 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 146,689.

Meanwhile, 167 more people recovered from the virus, bringing the overall recoveries to 143,261, while the death toll remained unchanged at 246.

The Syrian government is expected to get the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines in the second quarter of 2021, deputy Health Minister Ahmad Khlifawi told Xinhua on Thursday.

Khlifawi said Syria will get the vaccines through the COVAX platform, which is co-led by Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.

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