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Covid-19: Iran and Turkey most affected in Middle East

16th May 2020
Covid-19: Iran and Turkey most affected in Middle East

By Harun Nasrullah

London, (The Muslim News): Iran and Turkey are most affected by Covid-19 in the Middle East; however, fatality figures for both countries and the region as a whole are dwarfed by those of major Western superpowers.

As of May 16, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Turkey stood at over 146,157, of which more than 106,100 have recovered and over 4,000 have died. The number of positive cases surpassed those of Iran, making it the most affected country in terms of cases in the Middle East. But, with over 6,900 fatalities, Iran remains the country with the highest fatalities in the region.

However, the fatalities figures for both Iran and Turkey are diminished by those of the US (over 88,000), the UK (over 33,000), Spain (over 27,000), France (over 27,000), Italy (over 31,000) as well as emerging economy Brazil where the death rate is above 14,000.

Ankara Mounted Police Unit members patrol at July 15th Kizilay National Will Square during the first day of the 4-day coronavirus restrictions imposed to stem the novel COVID-19 pandemic in Ankara, Turkey on May 16 (Emin Sansar – Anadolu Agency )

The number of deaths due to the Coronavirus in Turkey entered a downward trend since the beginning of May. The gap between the number of recoveries and new cases continues to increase. Despite the increase in the number of tests, the number of new diagnoses is decreasing. Turkey ranks eighth in the world by the number of cases, however its death toll is on the same level as countries such as Germany and South Korea.

The virus is said to have reached Turkey on March 11, after a man who had returned to Turkey from Europe tested positive. The first death due to Covid-19 in the country occurred on March 15 and by April 1 it was confirmed that Covid-19 had spread all over Turkey.

Iran reported its first confirmed Covid-19 cases on February 19 in Qom. The virus is thought to have been brought to the country by a merchant from Qom who had travelled to China.

Some outside estimates of the numbers of deaths are much higher than those from Government sources. The Government has also been accused of cover-ups, censorship, and mismanagement. However, the World Health Organization says that it has not seen problems with Iran’s reported figures.

However, there is evidence Iran’s total infections also began to rise again after the Government relaxed lockdowns.

Iran’s key oil-producing region and home to the country’s ports on the Persian Gulf is seeing an alarming increase of infections, medical officials said on May 7.

The Khuzestan province in south-western Iran bordering Iraq and lying on the Persian Gulf is home to most of Iran’s oil and gas fields – the chief foreign income for the Islamic Republic which is being severely crippled by the US sanctions on its oil exports. Khuzestan also hosts the country’s ports and the land routes to them, through which most of Iran’s exports and imports pass.

The pandemic is now spreading at an alarming rate in the province, Radio Farda reports, citing Ali Ehsanpoor, spokesman of the Jondishapoor Medical University of Ahwaz in the province.

Between May 6 and May 7, a total of 178 new cases were identified in the province, bringing the total number of Coronavirus cases in Khuzestan – which has a population of 4.7 million people – close to 4,000, Ehsanpoor said.

As of May 7, there were 483 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals in the province, and the number of cases continues to increase, he said.

[Photo: Iranian worshipers gather at Eram Park’s parking area with their vehicles to supplicate [du’a] in congregation amid coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on the 19th day of Ramadan Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power), one of the Muslim’s holiest nights, in Tehran, Iran on May 13, 2020. Photographer:  Fatemeh Bahrami/AA]

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