Covid-19 update: new infections decline in the Middle East

New Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa since March 1, 2020. Seven-day rolling average, day by day.

New Covid-19 cases recorded in the Middle East and North Africa averaged 20,176 a day during the past week — the lowest figure for more than a year. Numbers have declined sharply since mid-August when they peaked at 73,000 a day.

Iran, which has been reporting high figures since the early stages of the pandemic, accounts for more than half the new infections officially recorded in the region over the last seven days.

Daily average of new cases during past week

These figures need to be viewed with some caution because levels of testing vary from country to country but the overall trend at present is clearly downwards ( see spreadsheet).

There are wide variations in official figures for Covid-related deaths in different parts of the region and it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from them.

Worldwide, 4.9 million Covid deaths have been recorded, amounting to 2% of the 241 million confirmed infections. In the Middle East region, the percentage of fatal cases reported in Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia is well above that level. The very high figure for Yemen may be explained by large numbers of undiagnosed infections coupled with a lack of medical facilities.

At the other end of the scale, the exceptionally low figures for the UAE and Qatar are also puzzling.

Deaths as percentage of recorded cases

More information about how the pandemic is affecting the region can be found here.

Originally published at

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: Author of 'Arabs Without God'.