Roundup: Turkey receives more Chinese COVID-19 vaccines; Palestine mulls over closing borders to curb new virus strain

CAIRO, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Turkey received on Monday 6.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines produced by the Chinese company Sinovac. Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said that Palestine is studying the option of closing borders to limit the spread of the new coronavirus strain.

A Turkish Airlines cargo plane loaded with the vaccines landed at Istanbul Airport early in the morning from China's capital Beijing.

After the completion of the customs clearance formalities at the airport, the vaccines were transferred to several warehouses in Istanbul for the necessary security tests, a health ministry official told Xinhua.

The official said the tests will last 14 days, and then the vaccines will be distributed to 81 provinces of the country to be used in the vaccination program.

The latest shipment was part of the second planned consignment of 10 million doses, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Sunday.

Turkey launched the mass vaccine campaign on Jan. 14 after receiving the first batch of 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from China at the end of December 2020.

Nurettin Yiyit, chief physician of the Feriha Oz Emergency Hospital in Istanbul, said "if we use our maximum capacity, we are in a position to vaccinate (people) in our country in a short period of time, as long as one month."

The physician also pointed out that the Turkish healthcare professionals always express their confidence in inactive vaccines like the Sinovac's shots.

"There are no serious side effects reported so far," he noted, adding this factor increases the trust of the citizens in the vaccination.

According to the health ministry's data, more than 1.25 million Turkish citizens have been vaccinated so far, and the program is going on as planned.

Also on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye said that Palestine is studying the option of closing its border crossings to limit the spread of the new coronavirus strain.

Ishtaye told the weekly meeting of the Palestinian Authority cabinet held in Ramallah that "Palestine is studying with Jordan and Israel the choice of closing all its border crossings to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 strain."

Palestine has recently reported 17 cases infected with the new strain.

"Wearing face masks, washing hands, and abiding by social distancing are the only available weapons in our hands until now to combat the spread of the virus before we receive the vaccines soon," Ishtaye said in a press statement.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank, and Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, have been imposing lockdowns and precautionary measures since last March to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"The wide commitment to the lockdown measures had led to positive results, and the occupancy rate decreased significantly in the hospitals designated for coronavirus in the Palestinian territories," Ishtaye added.

Meanwhile, Mai al-Kaila, the Palestinian Health Minister, told a news briefing that Palestine recorded five more deaths, 470 new COVID-19 cases, and 729 recoveries in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Iran's health ministry reported 6,309 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, raising the total nationwide number to 1,379,286. The pandemic has so far claimed 57,481 lives in Iran, up by 98 in the past 24 hours.

The Iraqi Health Ministry reported 813 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide number of cases to 614,576.

The ministry reported in a statement seven new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,000. It also said that 1,585 cases recovered during the day, bringing the total recoveries to 583,127.

Israel's Ministry of Health reported 8,664 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total tally in the country to 605,397.

The death toll from the COVID-19 reached 4,478 after 86 new fatalities were added, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 1,181 to 1,174, out of 1,845 hospitalized patients. The total recoveries rose to 529,586, with 7,218 newly recovered cases.

According to the ministry, the number of people vaccinated against the COVID-19 in Israel has surpassed 2.63 million, or 28.3 percent of its total population, since the vaccination campaign began on Dec. 20, 2020.

Lebanon registered on Monday 2,652 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the tally to 282,249, the health ministry reported. Death toll from the virus went up by 54 to 2,374 in the country.

Firas Abiad, director of Rafic Hariri University Hospital, warned on Monday against easing lockdown measures, which would lead to losing what has been achieved over the past weeks.

Morocco's total COVID-19 infections rose to 466,626 as 337 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours.

The death toll stood at 8,172 as 22 COVID-19 patients died in the last 24 hours. The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 increased to 443,472 after 1,031 new ones were added.

The first batch of coronavirus vaccines developed by China's Sinopharm company will arrive in Morocco on Jan. 27.

Kuwait's COVID-19 cases increased by 492 to 161,777 on the same day, while the death toll rose by two to 954.

The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 513 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 154,766.

The Omani health ministry announced 209 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the sultanate to 133,253.

Meanwhile, 72 people recovered during the past 24 hours, taking the overall recoveries to 126,334, while one death was reported, pushing the tally up to 1,522.

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