Spike in Coronavirus Infections Pushes the Middle East Past 10,000 Cases

Coronavirus infections climbed in Middle Eastern countries on Wednesday and Thursday, bringing the total in the region past 10,000 cases, as countries took new measures to curb the spread of the disease, cancelling flights, events and gatherings.

In Iran, the regional epicenter of the outbreak, the virus has killed 354 people and infected some 9,000 people nationwide. There are concerns that the number of infections across Iran is much higher than the confirmed cases reported by the government, which is struggling to contain or manage its spread. The rising casualty figures each day in Iran suggest the fight against the new coronavirus is far from over.

Multiple top officials in Iran — from its senior vice president to Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, Revolutionary Guard members, health workers and health ministry officials — have contracted the virus. Some of those officials have died.

Turkey, Egypt safeguard tourism

Turkey reported its first confirmed coronavirus case Wednesday after a Turkish man was diagnosed and quarantined. The country had previously managed to avoid the virus' spread. 

Turkey’s tourism sector, which accounts for about 13% of its economy, stepped up calls on the government for financial help to deal with the expected negative impact of the outbreak.

Egypt confirmed 67 cases Wednesday, 45 of which were detected on a River Nile cruise ship in the popular tourist destination of Luxor, and a German tourist who died in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.