An international relief group said on Wednesday that closings and embargoes aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic Corona Covid-19 are preventing access to 300,000 people in conflict areas in the Middle East, after authorities in the Libyan capital reported the first case in the country.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said it was unable to reach vulnerable people in Syria, Yemen and the Gaza Strip, as the authorities imposed strict measures to stop the spread of the virus. All of them have fragile health care systems.
The council said that border and country closings to tackle the virus had limited access to parts of Africa and Asia.
“While governments are taking strict and much-needed measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, millions of refugees and displaced people are still dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Jan Egeland, Chairman of the Norwegian Council.
He added: “If supermarkets and pharmacies can still operate during this crisis, then humanitarian aid must be delivered.”
Countries across the Middle East have imposed comprehensive measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including closing their borders, canceling flights, and in some cases imposing a 24-hour curfew.
On Wednesday, the occupation government approved new restrictions, including the closure of all temples. Authorities throughout the region have already closed the main holy shrines of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank occupied by Israel, ordered a complete closure and stopped travel between cities, towns and villages.
Sixty cases have been reported in the West Bank and two in Gaza.
In Libya, a 73-year-old man, who entered from neighboring Tunisia on March 5, was infected with the Corona virus. He recently traveled to Saudi Arabia, according to the Libyan National Center for Disease Control, and he was transferred to Tripoli Hospital.
In Egypt, a nationwide curfew is banned from 7 pm until 6 am. Egypt confirmed 442 cases and 22 deaths from the Corona virus, including two military officers in the Egyptian army.
Iran is fighting the region’s worst outbreak of the Coronavirus, with more than 27,000 confirmed cases and at least 2,077 deaths. The authorities have advised people to stay in their homes but have not imposed the closures and embargoes seen elsewhere.
In parts of Tehran, the streets are still crowded and few seem to be taking precautions.