Coronavirus Pandemic: Positive stories of resilience and bravery from the Middle East this week

Coronavirus Pandemic: Positive stories of resilience and bravery from the Middle East this week
Top five stories highlighting the Middle East’s resilience in the face of coronavirus this week.

5 min read
10 May, 2020
Turkey's elderly residents enjoy the outdoors after long quarantine, among other uplifting news [Anadolu Agency]
The novel coronavirus has infected over 4 million people globally, resulting in nearly 280,000 deaths. In the absence of a vaccine, the infection continues to spread across the world, while over 1.3 million patients have already recovered.
Countries across the Middle East are now easing lockdowns, while experts warn of a potential 'second wave' outbreak.

After gaining some control over the Covid-19 spread, the Middle East has seen some positive advancements. Last week, The New Arab shared its top five positive regional news stories. Here are out top picks from this week:

1) Jordan marks major milestone in battle against coronavirus with no new cases in seven days

Jordan reported zero deaths or new cases of the coronavirus for seven consecutive days in an announcement on Tuesday.

The kingdom took some of the toughest lockdown measures in the world to contain an outbreak of Covid-19, with people confined to their homes for weeks at a time.

Health Minister Saad Jaber told the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management that the country had reached an important milestone with no new reported coronavirus cases for the seventh day in a row.

Four coronavirus infections were discovered at a border crossing, but within the kingdom the situation appeared to be under control, Jaber said.

Jordan started to ease the restrictions last weekend to encourage economic activity, after all shops, factories and offices were closed due to the Covid-19 threat. Authorities later allowed small corner shops to open for supplies.

Companies where more than 75 percent of the workforce are Jordanian will be allowed to resume full services, while public transport will operate with social distancing measures in place.

Read more: Jordan marks major milestone in battle against coronavirus with no new cases in seven days

2) Tunisian NGO sets up food aid service through text messages

A Tunisian NGO has set up a food bank that dispenses aid by text message to some 300 families in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the initiative, recepients get a code sent by text message, allowing them to spend around 50 Tunisian dinars (around $17) weekly at designated grocery stores.

The program was launched at the end of April, with the start of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. According to AFP, it targets families who have lost jobs because of the coronavirus lockdown imposed by Tunisia's government.

Messaouda Raouafi, a cleaning woman forced to stay indoors told the AFP the initiative helps her feed her seven children.

Raouafi's family was among recepients chosen by the women's affairs ministry and signalled to the NGO known as the "Banque Alimentaire Durable" or Sustainable Food Bank, according to the AFP.

3) Hundreds pay tribute to 'much loved' British-Iraqi doctor who died from coronavirus infection

Hundreds lined the streets in Greater Manchester on Tuesday, for the funeral of local GP Dr Saad Al-Dubbaisi, who "gave everything for the community" during his 20 years of service.

The Iraqi-born doctor passed away on Sunday aged-59, after five weeks of battling the coronavirus.

Residents of Holcombe Brook, Greater Manchester, were pictured standing outside their homes and laying out floral tributes before applauding Dr Al-Dubbaisi's funeral cortege as it passed through the town.

The Muslim doctor, who was well-known in the community for his out-of-hours medical service, was described by his daughter as having spread "kindness and warmth" throughout his two decades as a local practitioner.

Following the funeral ceremony at his local mosque, the hearse passed through Bury to the Garden City Medical Centre in Holcombe Brook where the GP worked, flanked by cars carrying his family and vehicles from the out-of-hours medical service.

Read full story: Hundreds line streets in tearful tribute to 'much loved' British-Iraqi doctor who died from Covid-19

4) Quarantine quiet brings dolphins to Beirut coastline during coronavirus lockdown 

Dolphins were seen close to Lebanon's coastline this week, as coronavirus lockdowns see the return of wildlife to the waters of the Middle East.

Several videos captured pods of dolphins swimming against the backdrop of the Beirut skyline, a phenomenon attributed to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, which has seen a sharp decrease in traffic in the Mediterranean.

According to local fisherman Farouk Dagher, who posted clips of the sea creatures on Tuesday morning, there are three pods of dolphins swimming off the Beirut coast.

Dagher's videos recorded the faint sound of the dolphins as they splashed serenely at a distance.

Dolphins were spotted last month at the water's edge of Istanbul's Bosphorus River near the iconic Ortaköy Mosque, which until the lockdown served as a bustling tourist hotspot.

Residents have also reported that animals such as golden jackals have been regularly roaming through orchards unusually close to people’s homes during the lockdown period.

5) Turkish over-65s enjoy walks outside after weeks of coronavirus quarantine

After seven weeks of strict confinement, elderly and chronically ill Turks are finally allowed outside.

Turkish residents aged over 65 on Sunday enjoyed strolls in the sun for the first time after seven weeks of being barred from leaving home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over-65s and residents of the country with chronic health conditions were placed under strict confinement orders by Ankara on March 21 as cases of the Covid-19 illness began to skyrocket. 

Earlier this week, the ministry of interior announced it would allow elderly and chronicly ill residents outside between the hours of 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. as long as they follow social-distancing regulations.

Turkey's decision came after the health ministry announced on Monday the lowest number of daily coronavirus deaths recorded in over a month.

The age-specific quarantine measures are some of the strictest in the world, and their lifting has flooded social media with pictures of elderly Turks enjoying their first venture into the outside world after seven long weeks.

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