Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
Pedestrians wearing masks are seen in downtown Tehran, Iran, Feb. 23, 2020. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday issued an order to form a national headquarters to cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country, state TV reported. Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua) Since Iran announced the first batch cases of the coronavirus in the country on Wednesday, 43 Iranians have been confirmed infected by the virus, eight of whom have died. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

The death toll from COVID-19 passed 500 in Iran on Friday, while most countries in the Middle East reported rise in the number of confirmed cases amid the raging epidemic.

Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education announced on Friday that a total of 11,364 people have been infected with COVID-19 in Iran, while the death toll rose to 514, from 429 on Thursday. A total of 3,529 people have recovered.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, has been quarantined after showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, the Tasnim news agency reported.

Iran, the worst-hit country by the virus in the Middle East, so far has at least 25 officials, including cabinet members, lawmakers and health officials, who have been infected.

Chief of Staff of Iran Armed Forces Hossein Baqeri said on Friday that public places across the country will be emptied within the next 24 hours to prevent the spread of the virus.

Sudan, which had reported no case of coronavirus infection before, confirmed on Friday the first death from COVID-19 in the capital Khartoum.

In Israel, a total of 34 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 143.

Israel’s sports and health ministries announced the cancellation of all sports events as part of the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabian Health Ministry announced 24 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 86. It said 14 of the 24 new cases are of Egyptian nationality, who are under quarantine in Mecca.

In Kuwait, the Ministry of Health reported 20 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infected people in the country to 100.

In Cairo, Egypt announced that 13 people tested positive for COVID-19, including five Egyptians and eight foreigners who have been in contact with previous cases. The total number of the infected people in Egypt rose to 93.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Health Ministry confirmed 10 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 93.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi crisis committee, headed by the Iraqi Health Minister Jaafar Sadiq Allawi, decided to ban the entry of travellers from Qatar and Germany, except for official delegations and diplomatic missions.

In Beirut, Lebanon’s Health Ministry announced six new cases of COVID-19, leading the total number of confirmed cases to 77.

In Tunis, Tunisian Health Ministry reported three new cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 16. A 14-day quarantine is now obligatory for all passengers arriving in Tunisia.

Palestine on Friday reported four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of infected people to 35, including 34 in Bethlehem and one in Tulkarem.

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced three new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of the cases in Turkey to five.

In Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul, Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced a decision to close the museums, city theaters, and concert halls in a move to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Morocco, which confirmed on Friday its seventh case of COVID-19 infection, decided to suspend all air and sea travels to and from France.

In Algiers, Algerian national carrier Air Algerie said that all flights to and from Spain will be suspended from March 16 to April 4, while flights to and from France will be cut down.

In Manama, Formula One Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chase Carey announced that the upcoming 2020 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed along with the Vietnam Grand Prix, amid COVID-19 fears.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Arnon Afek, deputy director general of Sheba Medical Center in Israel, lauded China for its quick actions and success in controlling the spread of the epidemic.

Afek said that the success achieved by China, the most severely hit country by the virus, is an “inspiring message” for the rest of world.

“It’s important that all the countries will learn from what the Chinese did,” he said.

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