Saudi Arabia began on Thursday to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to the public after the kingdom received the first shipment of vaccines a day earlier. Meanwhile, Turkey reported a record high of 243 deaths from the novel coronavirus.
“In the last nine months, I was observing with concern the number of cases, today I will happily observe the number of people who will get the vaccine,” Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah tweeted.
The kingdom received the first batch of vaccines on Wednesday, and more than 150,000 individuals have registered for free vaccination.
Saudi Arabia reported 181 new COVID-19 cases and 11 new deaths from the virus on Thursday, taking the tally of infections in the kingdom to 360,516 and the death toll to 6,091. The total recoveries surged by 173 to 351,365.
Turkey, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, reported 243 new deaths from the coronavirus, the highest daily record in the country, as the death toll climbed to 17,364.
Its reported 27,515 new COVID-19 cases and 30,494 more recoveries, raising the tally to 1,955,680 and the total recoveries to 1,721,607.
Iran added 7,453 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking the tally to 1,138,530. The epidemic has claimed 53,095 lives in Iran after 212 new deaths were registered.
The Iranian government said that a new locally-developed vaccine for COVID-19 would be available in the spring of 2021.
Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 3,313 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 367,633.
The death toll rose to 3,050, with 19 new fatalities, while the number of patients in serious condition increased from 393 to 413 out of 709 patients hospitalized.
Hezi Levi, director-general of the health ministry, has entered home quarantine due to exposure to an office worker infected with the coronavirus.
Morocco announced on Thursday 2,776 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally in the North African country since March 2 to 409,746, while the death toll rose by 55 to 6,804.
The COVID-19 fatality rate in the North African country stands at 1.7 percent, while the recovery rate is 90.3 percent.
The Palestinian government decided on Thursday to close all schools and universities in the West Bank to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.
“Based on plans prepared by the Ministry of Education, the education process in Palestinian has been turned into online,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye at a press conference.
The Palestinian Health Ministry reported 2,149 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, including 1,015 cases in the Gaza Strip, raising the total coronavirus cases in the Palestinian territories to 106,840.
The ministry also recorded new 30 fatalities from the virus, bringing the death toll in Palestine to 1,186.
Also in the day, Iraq reported 1,533 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total nationwide number to 580,449.
The country also reported 14 new deaths and 1,916 more recovered cases, raising the death toll to 12,650 and the total recoveries to 515,321.
Iraq said it has agreed with Syria to form joint advisory teams to cooperate in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jordan reported 2,221 new COVID-19 cases and 31 more deaths, raising the total cases in the kingdom to 269,806 and the death toll to 3,496. The tally of recoveries climbed by 3,116 to 233,390.
In Oman, the health ministry on Thursday announced 184 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Sultanate to 127,019.
The ministry urged everyone to adhere to social distancing instructions issued by the Supreme Committee and the ministry of health.
Kuwait reported 221 new COVID-19 cases, raising the tally of infections to 147,192, while the death toll remained at 913.