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Turkey, Israel Virus Cases Near 1,000; Saudi Infections Increase

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 3/22/2020 Farah Elbahrawy

(Bloomberg) --

Iran, the epicenter of the coronavirus in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia reported new cases on Sunday as infections in Turkey and Israel neared 1,000. Stock markets in the Gulf extended losses.

Countries across the Middle East also imposed new restrictions on movement of people, shut public places and rolled out measures to protect businesses. In Iran, the number of deaths reached 1,685, with total number of cases at 21,638.

Saudi Arabia announced 119 new cases, bringing its total to 511.

Qatar banned all forms of public gatherings, deployed patrols, installed checkpoints across the country and warned that those who violate the coronavirus policies would be arrested.

The United Arab Emirates shut beaches, parks, pools and cinemas and imposed new restrictions on restaurants. The Gulf nation has reported two virus-linked deaths so far.

Gulf Stocks Extend Drop Shrugging Off New Measures: Inside EM

Emirates, the world’s biggest airline by international traffic, has stopped serving more than 65% of its destinations. The Dubai-based carrier is mulling grounding the bulk of its Airbus SE A380 fleet as the virus cut demand for travel. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways halted more than half of its flights.

Oman Air plans to cut jobs after the airline had to reduce flights, suspend routes and park planes in an unprecedented way.

Confirmed cases in Turkey increased by almost 300 from Friday to 947. The government is expanding testing across Turkey with the arrival of 15-minute diagnosis kits from China and a gradual increase in the number of labs to 36 from 16.

Markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi:

Markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi posted losses on Sunday. The U.A.E.’s main equity indexes have dropped about 30% so far in March. Emirates NBD, the biggest lender in Dubai, has lost more than 40% of its value this month, while First Abu Dhabi Bank, the biggest lender in the U.A.E., has declined 37%.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Shares in Dubai, Abu Dhabi lost about 30% of value this month © Bloomberg Shares in Dubai, Abu Dhabi lost about 30% of value this month

Other Developments:

Dubai’s ruler asked local banks to offer companies relief, including refinancing and repayment referrals.Jordanian security forces arrested 392 people for violating a curfew that started Saturday morning.Kuwait imposed a partial curfew from 5pm to 4am and extended school closures for four more months. Those who violate the curfew will be jailed for three years and fined.Tunisia allocated 2.5 billion dinars to confront virus.Oman asked the private sector to direct its workers to stay at homes after working hours. It also implemented measures such as banning public gathering.New rules prohibiting most Israelis from leaving their homes for the next seven days took effect on Sunday.Two Palestinians who arrived in Gaza from Pakistan through a border crossing with Egypt on Thursday are infected with coronavirus.Egypt shut mosques and churches and closed all museums and historical sites through March 31.Iraq extended its curfew, with some exemptions, until March 28.

Read more:

Cases Double in a Week; Spanish Deaths Surge 30%: Virus UpdateDubai Banks to Offer Virus Relief to Companies, IndividualsSaudi Arabia Raises Debt Ceiling to Borrow More As Oil PlummetsSaudi Arabia Says Virus Steps to Save Companies $32 BillionTurkey Imposes Curfew for People Over 65 as Virus Toll Rises Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus and here for maps and charts. For analysis of the impact from Bloomberg Economics, click here.

(Updates with Iran cases)

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