Iraq approves use of Chinese, British COVID-19 vaccines; Israel extends lockdown for 10 days

Iraq on Tuesday approved the emergency use of China’s Sinopharm and British AstraZeneca vaccines to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Israel decided to extend nationwide lockdown for 10 days.

The Iraqi Ministry of Health said in a brief statement that the Iraqi National Board for Selection of Drugs (NBSD) approved the emergency use of the two vaccines.

Iraqi Ministry of Health spokesman Sayf al-Badr told Xinhua that the Chinese vaccine, developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), “conforms to the NBSD standards, and therefore the Iraqi state approved it for use inside Iraq.”

Iraq reported 823 new COVID-19 cases and nine more fatalities, taking its total infections to 609,852 and its death toll to 12,962. The total recoveries in Iraq increased by 1,813 to 573,011.

Israel’s cabinet decided on Tuesday to extend the weeks-long nationwide lockdown by 10 days until Jan. 31 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cabinet also decided that travellers entering the country will be required to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before their flight.

Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 8,066 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number in the country to 565,629. The COVID-19 death toll in Israel reached 4,080 after 40 new fatalities were added, while the total recoveries rose by 6,906 to 478,897.

Turkey on Tuesday started vaccinating the people residing or working in nursing homes against COVID-19. Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Monday the vaccination campaign, which kicked off on Jan. 14, would also cover people in disabled care centers and care homes, as well as citizens aged 90 and above.

So far, 851,745 of a total of 1.1 million healthcare workers in Turkey, defined as the first group, have been vaccinated. Turkey received the first shipment of 3 million doses of vaccines from China at the end of December, 2020.

Turkey on Tuesday reported 6,818 new COVID-19 cases, including 761 with symptoms, and 167 more deaths, pushing up its tally of infections to 2,399,781 and its death toll to 24,328. Turkey’s total recoveries soared to 2,277,987 with the addition of 7,218 new recoveries.

Iran’s Health Ministry reported 5,917 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, raising the total nationwide infections to 1,342,134.

The pandemic has so far claimed 56,973 lives in Iran, up by 87 in the past 24 hours, said Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education. A total of 1,131,883 people have recovered from the disease in Iran, while 4,272 remained in intensive care units.

Morocco announced suspension of all flights with and bans passengers from Ireland, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand, a day after the detection of its first case of new coronavirus variant. The ban has been already imposed on South Africa, Denmark and Britain.

Morocco reported on Tuesday 1,246 new COVID-19 cases and 34 more deaths, taking the tally in the North African country to 461,390 and its total deaths to 8,011. Morocco’s recoveries climbed by 940 to 436,626.

Saudi Arabia reported 226 new coronavirus cases and six more fatalities, taking its tally of COVID-19 infections to 365,325 and its death toll to 6,335. The total recoveries in the kingdom rose by 156 to 357,004.

Jordan recorded 883 new COVID-19 cases and 17 more fatalities, pushing up its tally of infections to 316,427 and its death toll to 4,170. The total recoveries in the kingdom climbed by 1,553 to 301,893.

Lebanon reported 4,359 new COVID-19 cases and 61 more fatalities, raising its tally of infections to 260,315 and its total deaths to 2,020. Lebanon’s total recoveries surged by 1,476 to 156,084.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported 3,491 COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Tuesday, bringing its tally of infections to 260,223 and its death toll to 756. The total recoveries in the UAE increased to 231,675 with the addition of 3,311 new ones.

Tunisian Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 2,598 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to 184,483.

The death toll from the virus rose by 94 to 5,844 in the North African country, while the total recoveries reached 132,983 in the country, the ministry said.

Kuwait announced 578 new coronavirus infections, leading its tally of COVID-19 cases to 158,822, while its death toll rose by two to 950. The Kuwaiti Health Ministry also announced the recovery of 440 more patients, taking the total recoveries to 151,936.

The Qatari health ministry on Tuesday announced 225 new COVID-19 infections, raising the total number of confirmed cases in the Gulf state to 147,729. Qatar’s overall recoveries increased by 203 to 144,218, while the fatalities remained at 248.

Oman reported 135 new coronavirus infections and two more fatalities from the disease, bringing its tally of COVID-19 cases to 132,146 and its death toll to 1,516. Its total recoveries rose by 185 to 124,398.