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.
4 min read
03 April, 2020
The UAE launched a drive-through COVID-19 testing centre, among other positive developments this week [Getty]
As the Middle East and the globe fight the Covid-19 pandemic, not all news is grim.

Last week, we published a positive story compilation showcasing the Middle East's resilience and bravery in the face of the novel coronavirus. Here are our five new picks for this week:
Kuwait landlords lower rent in response to campaigns

Social media campaigns in Kuwait that called for lower rent prices have gained support from real estate agents and landlords, who are offering their tenants reduced prices or free housing.

The Kuwait Real Estate Brokers Union also launched its own campaign called "Help your Tenants".

The campaigns were launched in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has placed a third of the world’s population on lockdown. In Kuwait, businesses were also forced to close, resulting in thousands of employees being laid off or put on unpaid leave.

In a statement, the "Help your Tenants" campaign said that Kuwait is witnessing exceptional circumstances, adding that the halt of economic activities has impacted tenants' incomes. The statement also called on Kuwaitis to support one another in difficult times.

Many landlords and organisations have reached out to the campaigners, offering rent prices reduced by 50 percent or, in some cases, free housing.

Kuwait's banks have also postponed payments on loans for six months, according to the union.

Palestinian authorities run Turkish hospital in Gaza

The biggest hospital in Gaza, which was built by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), was handed over to Palestinian authorities to fight Covid-19 following orders from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's Anadolou Agency reported on Tuesday.

The Turkey-headquartered agency said that the hospital, which was completed in 2017, houses 180 beds.

Movement in and out of Gaza has been severely restricted by Israel since 2007, when the Islamist group Hamas seized control of the strip.

Due to the pandemic, blockaded Gaza went on lockdown in March, placing additional strains on its already overstretched health care system. Turkey's move brought some hope in dire times.

Iraq initiative uses 3D printing to make face shields for health workers

Six volunteers in Iraqi city Basra are working on an initiative to produce 3D printed face shields using transparent plastic.

According to a video report by MSN, the volunteers chose to produce face shields due to the easy-to-replicate nature of its simple design.

Iraq has recorded a total of 772 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 54 deaths.

The Covid-19 crisis has seen a global shortage of face masks in medical facilities.

The volunteers are hoping the plastic shields can help counterbalance the shortage of surgical masks.

Tunisia's futuristic "robocops" with thermal-screening abilities

Tunisia's interior ministry has deployed police-operated robots to patrol the streets of capital Tunis and enforce a lockdown imposed last month as the country battles its Covid-19 outbreak.

Built by local robotics company Enova, the robots are remotely operated and equipped with infrared and thermal imaging cameras, in addition to a sound and light alarm system.

Videos circulating around social media showed robots asking to see permits from civilians venturing outdoors, scolding those who are defying the country's lockdown and calling out slogans urging people to stay at home.

Tunisia initially introduced night time curfew to stem the spread of the virus on March 17, then imposed more stern lockdown measures less than a week after.

Since the start of March, 14 people have died from coronavirus in Tunisia, while a total of 455 people have tested positive for the disease.

Drive-thru coronavirus testing in UAE

A drive-through coronavirus screening centre in UAE capital Abu Dhabi has become a go-to destination for many seeking diagnoses during the pandemic.

The facility, believed to be the first of its kind in the Gulf, greets around 600 people a day during its 12 hours of service.

The test is free for the elderly, pregnant women and anyone exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19. Others can get tested for 370 dirhams ($100). Those tested receive results within two days via text message.

The UAE has so far recorded more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases, with 96 recoveries and eight deaths.

Authorities said they plan to roll out a number of screening centres across the seven emirates.

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