| 8.6°C Belfast

Air raid sirens sound in Jordan to mark start of coronavirus lockdown

It is the latest country in the Middle East to impose tough measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

Close

A man walks down an empty street in central Baghdad, Iraq, despite a week-long curfew aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19 (Hadi Mizban/AP)

A man walks down an empty street in central Baghdad, Iraq, despite a week-long curfew aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19 (Hadi Mizban/AP)

A man walks down an empty street in central Baghdad, Iraq, despite a week-long curfew aimed at tackling the spread of Covid-19 (Hadi Mizban/AP)

Air raid sirens echoed across Jordan’s capital to mark the start of a three-day curfew, the latest mass lock-down in the Middle East aimed at containing coronavirus.

It came as officials in Iran confirmed its death toll from Covid-19 has increased by 123 to 1,556.

Iran is enduring the worst outbreak of the virus in the Middle East and has faced widespread criticism for its slow response to it.

Baghdad virus measures
Security forces warn Shia pilgrims marching to a mosque in Baghdad despite the city’s curfew (Hadi Mizban/AP)

It now has 20,610 confirmed cases, according to figures released by the Health Ministry on Saturday.

In one of the strictest measures yet, Jordan has ordered all shops to close and all people to stay off the streets until at least Tuesday, when it plans to announce specific times for shopping. Anyone caught violating the curfew faces up to one year in prison.

Jordan has reported 85 cases of the virus so far, including one patient who recovered.

Several countries in the Middle East have closed schools, universities and non-essential businesses, and many have threatened fines or time behind bars for those caught violating the decrees.

Iraq, which has reported 193 cases and 14 deaths, has struggled to maintain a week-long curfew in Baghdad as religious pilgrims have continued to try to visit a major Shia Muslim shrine in the capital.

The tiny, energy-rich nation of Qatar is urging citizens to honour home quarantine rules. The state-run Qatar News Agency said authorities “captured 10 people” who broke the rules, and warned those who disobey the orders could face prosecution.

Qatar has reported 460 cases, including 10 who have recovered.

Jordan Virus Outbreak
Workers at the city authority in Amman, Jordan, spray disinfectant on vehicles (Raad Adayleh/AP)

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian security forces arrested 20 Muslim preachers for allegedly violating a ban on holding Friday prayers, the Voice of Palestine reported. The Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank, has closed mosques and barred all group prayers.

Abdallah Kmail, the governor of Salfit, said a village in the northern West Bank was locked down after a man who returned from Pakistan and tested positive for the virus participated in prayers held in violation of the ban.

The Palestinian Authority has reported 47 confirmed cases, including 17 who have recovered.

PA