Syrians rushed to stock up on food and fuel Monday amid fears that authorities would resort to even stricter measures after reporting the first coronavirus infection in the country, where the healthcare system has been decimated by nearly a decade of civil war.
Meanwhile, Iran reported another 127 coronavirus deaths, bringing its death toll to 1,812 amid 23,049 confirmed cases. Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East, and has faced widespread criticism for not imposing stricter quarantine measures early on. It is also suffering under severe American sanctions imposed after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from Tehran‘s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. State TV reported the latest figures on Monday.
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The arrival of the global pandemic in Syria as well as the Gaza Strip has raised concerns it could run rampant in some of the most vulnerable areas in the Middle East. War-torn Libya and Yemen, which have yet to report any cases, are also a source of concern.
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Lines formed outside grocery stores, banks and petrol stations across the Syrian capital, Damascus, as people braced for wider closures. The government has already closed restaurants, cafes and other businesses, and has halted public transportation.
The city’s famed Hamidiyeh souk,