Risk of ‘catastrophic’ coronavirus outbreak in Middle East: WHO

Risk of ‘catastrophic’ coronavirus outbreak in Middle East: WHO

Significant increases in cases in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, with large increases expected in Lebanon and Morocco, according to the agency.

A wave of coronavirus cases in several Middle Eastern countries could have dire consequences, made worse by the spread of the Delta variant and low vaccine availability, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
After a drop in cases and deaths for eight weeks, the agency said there had been a significant increase in cases in Libya, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia, with sharp increases expected in Lebanon and Morocco. .

Next week, countries in the region will mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which traditionally includes religious and social gatherings where infections could spread.

“The WHO is concerned that the current upsurge in COVID-19 will continue to peak in the coming weeks, with catastrophic consequences,” the agency’s regional office said in a statement.

Lack of respect for public health and social measures and “growing complacency on the part of communities,” as well as low vaccination rates and the spread of new variants, were to blame, the WHO said.

The agency pointed out that Tunisia was the country with the highest per capita coronavirus death rate in the region and in Africa, and noted that daily cases had nearly doubled in Iran in the four weeks since preceded at the beginning of July.

Overall, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Djibouti as well as states in the Middle East, has exceeded 11.4 million , according to the press release.

More than 223,000 deaths have been reported, he added.


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