The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 15 May

The Middle East at war with coronavirus: Top stories from 15 May
3 min read
15 May, 2020
Turkish Cypriots protest the closure of islands due to Covid-19, whilst Tunisia eases lockdown measures after no new cases. Here's your daily coronavirus roundup for the Middle East.
Here's the most important coronavirus news today [TNA]
Here are five stories you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic and how it is affecting the Middle East on 15 May: 

1. Turkish Cypriots protest closure of island crossings due to coronavirus

Turkish Cypriots in the north of divided Cyprus protested Friday against the closure of crossings by the island's internationally-recognised government as part of efforts to combat coronavirus.

"We want to get back to work," read a banner unfurled by dozens of demonstrators who have jobs in the Greek Cypriot-administered south, gathered at the Ayios Dhometios crossing in the capital Nicosia.

The Mediterranean island is divided between the Republic of Cyprus - a European Union member state - and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Ankara.

After the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Cyprus on March 9, crossings along the UN-patrolled ceasefire line that runs across the country were shuttered.

Read more here

2. Yemen coronavirus deaths 'could be in their hundreds', charity warns

At least 385 people have died in the past week of coronavirus-like symptoms in the southern city of Aden, the charity Save the Children revealed.

This comes as official figures put the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Aden at 41, with five deaths, with the World Health Organisation claiming there are 72 cases nationwide, with 13 deaths.

“The surging deaths in Aden suggest that the virus is spreading far faster and further than the number of confirmed cases.

"Hospitals are closing down and patients [are] being turned away or left to die," said Xavier Joubert, Yemen country director for Save the Children.

Read more here

3. G20 vows to avoid 'unnecessary' coronavirus trade barriers

The G20 on Thursday pledged to avoid "unnecessary" trade barriers on essential goods including food during the coronavirus pandemic, after the WTO and IMF warned over the growing use of export restrictions.

The pandemic has pushed the global economy and international trade into turmoil as they face downturns not seen since the Great Depression.

Global trade is expected to register "double-digit declines" in volumes in nearly all regions this year, the World Trade Organization has said.

G20 trade and investment ministers said export restrictions on vital medical supplies and other essential goods, if necessary, must be "proportionate, transparent, temporary" and must not create "unnecessary barriers to trade or disruption to global supply chains".

Read more here

4. Hollywood actors Brian Eno, Viggo Mortensen urge Israel to end Gaza blockade

Brian Eno and Viggo Mortensen were among a long list of prominent figures urging Israel to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip during the Covid-19 crisis in an open letter published Wednesday.

More than 200 musicians, actors, filmmakers, authors and others signed onto a letter stating Israel's siege of Gaza "must be ended".

"With the pandemic, Gaza’s almost two million inhabitants, predominantly refugees, face a mortal threat in the world’s largest open-air prison," the letter read.

"Well before the ongoing crisis, Gaza’s hospitals were already stretched to breaking point through lack of essential resources denied by Israel’s siege," the letter continued.

Read More: How India is clamping down on Muslim activists under the cover of coronavirus
"Reports of the first cases of coronavirus in densely-populated Gaza are therefore deeply disturbing."

Read more here

5. Tunisia eases lockdown 
Retail shops and supermarkets reopened Friday in Tunisia after the government announced zero coronavirus cases for the fifth consecutive day.

In a statement published overnight, the health ministry also said that 217 patients still carry the Covid-19 virus, three of whom are being treated in hospital.

Tunisia has declared 1,032 cases of coronavirus, including 45 deaths, since March 2.

With infections slowing, retail stores, open-air markets and supermarkets have reopened, but authorities are urging citizens to stay vigilant and respect hygiene measures.

Read more here

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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