About three million total confirmed coronavirus cases, 75,000 related deaths, and the highest weekly number of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, have been grappling with a resurgence of coronavirus cases in recent weeks, and the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic has reached “an alarming juncture” in the region.
“Case numbers are expected to grow at an increasing rate during the winter season,” Dr. Rana Hajjeh, the organization’s director of program management, said earlier this week.
Jordan reported its deadliest days since the beginning of the pandemic this week, and Turkey has recorded its highest numbers of daily new cases since May. Israel has been under a strict nationwide lockdown after daily infection and death rates soared to among the highest in the world last month, but infections have started to decline. Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official, has been in critical condition after contracting the coronavirus.
Lebanon, which successfully contained the spread of the virus in the first months of the pandemic, has faced a resurgence of cases in the fall, and most Covid-19 units in hospitals are now at high occupancy, according to the head of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital.
But nowhere in the region is the situation officially worse than in Iran, which saw two days of record deaths this week. The authorities tallied nearly 400 deaths on Thursday, bringing the reported death toll in the region’s worst-hit country to more than 34,000 — though officials have acknowledged that is likely an undercount. A senior member of Iran’s medical association said earlier this month that the real death toll could be three to four times higher.
Hospitals in Iran are saturated, according to officials, and President Hassan Rouhani has warned that the worst was yet to come.
“We are now in a full-scale war with the coronavirus,” Iran’s health ministry spokeswoman, Sima Sadat Lari, said in a televised address this week, according to Agence-France Presse.