Coronavirus Watch in Mideast: Mideast countries Rush to close Borders over New Virus Strain; Turkey Confirms 19,103 New COVID-19 Cases


Coronavirus Watch in Mideast: Mideast countries rush to close borders over new virus strain; Turkey confirms 19,103 new COVID-19 cases

Source: Xinhua| 2020-12-22 04:38:18|Editor: huaxia

Passengers arrive at Kuwait International Airport in Farwaniya Governorate, Kuwait, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Asad/Xinhua)

-- Israel, Kuwait, Oman rush to close borders over fear of new virus strain;

-- Iran, Tunisia ban flights from Britain;

-- Turkey confirms 19,103 new cases;

-- Iraq adds 1,200 new cases.

CAIRO, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the Middle East on Monday rushed to close borders over the fear of a new coronavirus strain recently found in Britain. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infections continue to rise quickly in the region for the past 24 hours.

Israel's coronavirus cabinet decided on Monday to ban entry of non-Israeli nationals to the country following the emergence of a new coronavirus variant.

The restrictions are scheduled to come into effect on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement.

Non-Israelis will not be allowed to enter the country, except for diplomats who are stationed in Israel and other special cases. Starting from Wednesday, Israelis returning from abroad will have to quarantine in designated hotels.

Also in the day, Kuwait decided to ban all international commercial flights from and to Kuwait after it suspended flights from Britain a day earlier. The decision will come into force from 11:00 p.m. (local time) on Monday until Jan. 1, 2021.

Oman will close its land, air and sea borders as of 01:00 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday for one week, the country's state TV reported on Monday.

Saudi Arabia already suspended all international passenger flights on Sunday.

A man waits in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, on Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)

Iran, Jordan and Tunisia have not closed borders entirely but installed Monday new bans on flights from Britain.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a new variant of the virus prevailing in Britain may be up to 70 percent more transmissible.

The British government imposed a new set of lockdown measures for London, causing a panic exodus in the city. Many countries, including Ireland, France, Canada and Turkey, have banned visitors from Britain to enter their borders.

Meanwhile, countries in the Middle East continue to see surging infections.

A woman sells handicrafts at a bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey, on Dec. 17, 2020. (Photo by Osman Orsal/Xinhua)

Turkey reported on Monday 19,103 COVID-19 cases, including 3,412 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country so far increased to 2,043,704, its health ministry announced.

The death toll in Turkey rose by 254 to 18,351, while the total recoveries climbed to 1,835,705 after 34,419 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.

The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stands at 4.1 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 5,192 in Turkey, the worst-hit country in the Middle East.

Israel also saw another resurgence of COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. The country reported 2,377 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 376,857.

The death toll of the virus in Israel increased to 3,109 with 12 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 455 to 470, out of 831 hospitalized patients.

The total recoveries rose to 348,589 after 856 new recovered cases were added, while active cases stand at 25,159.

People shop for Yalda Night at an old bazaar in Tehran, Iran, on Dec. 20, 2020. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

Iran added 6,151 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, bringing its tally to 1,164,535, according to the country's health authorities. The country also reported 191 deaths related to the epidemic between Sunday and Monday, raising the total number of coronavirus deaths in the country to 53,816 so far.

Kuwait's COVID-19 cases increased by 230 to 148,209 on Monday, while the death toll rose by one to 922.

In Iraq, the health ministry reported on Monday 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 585,345.

The ministry also reported 13 new deaths and 1,668 more recovered cases in the country, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 12,710 and the total recoveries to 522,637, which represents more than 89 percent of the total infections.

Earlier on Monday, the Palestinian health ministry recorded 31 deaths and 1,514 new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Palestine in March, the health ministry recorded 140,047 COVID-91 cases, including 1,287 deaths.