Human Rights

How is the Arab World Dealing With the Spread of Coronavirus?

Middle East

As the number of those affected with coronavirus continues to rise across the Arab world, countries step up measures in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the virus. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 209,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus globally and more than 8,700 have died so far. Across the Arab world, governments are imposing new measures in order to contain the spread of the virus.

In Iraq, the public are being encouraged to stay at home as the total number of those infected surpasses 170 and the number of deaths reaches 14. A curfew has been enforced in Baghdad and anti-government protesters have announced they are temporarily halting demonstrations to prevent the spread of the virus. China is set to send medical experts to Iraq to help with the outbreak, although people still fear Iraq’s health services will be unable to deal with the strain of an outbreak.

“The health services here are weak, our hospitals are not qualified, and the medicines are not available”, said a concerned citizen.

In Lebanon, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is carrying out a series of campaigns to raise awareness of the virus and to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon. However, many argue this is simply not enough, as the number of those infected in the country reaches 163.

“There are awareness programs and they have distributed one soap to each person, but this is not enough. The price of a mask in pharmacies ranges between 4000 and 7000 liras and we cannot afford it,” said a refugee living in one of the camps.

Egypt has so far recorded 250 people infected with coronavirus and 7 deaths. Authorities have decided to close schools and begin sterilising public places.

Algeria has closed all its borders and stopped flights in and out of the country to slow down the outbreak. Authorities are especially concerned as the death rate of those infected so far sits at 10%, a higher rate than many other countries. Algerians who were stuck abroad after the closing of borders have been allowed to return, however they face two weeks of isolation upon arrival.

After Tunisia announced its first death from the virus, authorities have decided to close mosques and markets.

In Morocco, a woman was arrested for spreading false information on the coronavirus, after posting a video urging the public to ignore government measures.