715,000 cases of COVID-19 in Middle East

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The Middle East saw an increase of 17% in the number of cases in the last two weeks.

The latest data on the spread of COVID-19 reveals more than 715,000 cases in the Middle East, with the highest numbers in Turkey and Iran. Gulf states continue to experience higher-than-average levels of spread of the virus, while several war-torn countries cannot test for it. The Kingdom of Jordan and Tunisia have some of the lowest figures and continue to contain the spread.

The Middle East saw an increase of 17% in the number of cases in the last two weeks. There are not more than 18,000 cases in Israel. Turkey and Iran both have over 170,000 cases, while Saudi Arabia has 105,283. The worst countries in terms of continued spread are in the Gulf, where Bahrain saw and increase in 32% in the last weeks. Qatar now has  70,158 cases and the United Arab Emirates has 39,376 cases. This is despite the fact that these countries often attempted lockdowns and flight cancellations.

In other countries in the region the trend is also concerning. Lebanon, where protests are common, has 1,350 cases while Egypt has 35,444. Egypt appears to be rapidly increasing the spread, with a 37% increase in the last two weeks. The rest of North Africa is doing better. Tunisia has only 1,087 cases. Morocco and Algeria have low percent increases. Libya is in the midst of civil war and cannot test, which means it has only 332 confirmed cases. In addition, Yemen has the same problem, with evidence suggesting a much higher number than the 496 cases.

The Middle East has not been the hardest hit with the virus, compared to Europe. However, it’s divided between countries that initially had a low number of cases and Turkey and Iran which had high numbers. The smaller Gulf countries should have been able to control the outbreak, they had high testing figures and good health care, but evidence shows they have largely failed to contain the problem and per capita their numbers are rising above other states. By contrast the Kingdom of Jordan has one of the most successful attempts to control the virus, as does the Palestinian Authority. Iraq is deeply concerned about a second wave of Covid-19 and has shut airports. Iran is encouraging more mask use at it re-opens. Overall the trend in the region shows that lack of data and testing in some countries leaves researchers little to go on, and that even in states expected to do well, the results were mixed.

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