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At a press conference from Cairo, Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region, which encompasses most of the Middle East, expressed concern that countries in the area would lower their guard after the tough closings imposed earlier this year.

Tehran, Iran
In this Oct.15, 2020 file photo, people wear protective masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus at the traditional Tajrish bazaar in northern Tehran, Iran. (AP)

The fundamentals of responding to a pandemic, from social distancing to wearing masks, “are not yet fully practiced in our region,” he said, adding that the result is evident in the region’s crowded hospitals.

Noting that the virus has sickened more than 3.6 million people and killed more than 76,000 in the region over the past nine months, al-Mandhari warned that “the lives of so many people, if not more, are at stake. game, “urging that steps be taken to” prevent this tragic premonition from becoming reality. “

More than 60 percent of all new infections in the last week were reported by Iran, which has seen the worst outbreak in the region, as well as in Jordan and Morocco, he said. Cases have also increased in Lebanon and Pakistan. Jordan, Tunisia and Lebanon have reported the largest single-day death spikes in the region.
A worker wearing a protective suit packs face masks at a factory in Eshtehard, about 114 km west of the capital Tehran, Iran, on April 14, 2020. (AP / AAP)
Since PakistanFaisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister for national health services, told reporters that the winter surge had arrived. Although Pakistan managed to control the outbreak with specific restrictions earlier this year, the forecast became more alarming as the country unblocked itself, he said.

“The second wave is just as risky, if not more so than the first,” Sultan said, adding that winter in Pakistan brings an increase in social interaction, with schools, events and weddings in full swing. “There is a sense of complacency and fatigue in compliance.”

Tunisia is another country that thought its worst virus days were in the past, only to see cases skyrocket in recent weeks. He loosened restrictions in an attempt to “cautiously coexist” with the virus, said Faycal Ben Salah, health director general, after authorities decided the lockdown was killing the economy and creating “catastrophic social consequences.”

“We cannot, and should not, wait until a safe and effective vaccine is available to everyone,” he said. “We just don’t know when this will be.”

– Reported with Associated Press

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