Sudan

Sudan released 4,217 prisoners on 25 March as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, state news agency SUNA said, citing a health ministry official who said those freed had been tested for possible infections.

Sudan, which is in the middle of an economic crisis and transition after the toppling of veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir last year, has confirmed three cases of the coronavirus.

Its health system is in a poor state after years without investment and an exodus of doctors to seek work in Gulf Arab countries.

Turkey

More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, which has ramped up tests to more than 15,000 a day, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on 31 March. Koca shared the latest figures on Twitter, saying that 46 people had died in the last 24 hours, raising the country's overall death toll to 214.

With 2,704 more cases of the novel coronavirus, the official total of those infected has reached 13,531.

"The number of tests has increased by 25.2 percent compared with yesterday," Koca said. Health officials are identifying positive cases faster and with more accuracy, he added.

Turkish officials have repeatedly urged citizens to stay home and respect social distancing rules, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan advising Turks to adopt "voluntary quarantine" conditions.

On 31 March, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 50 towns and areas in 21 cities across the country had been placed under quarantine, but Turkey has stopped short of declaring a nationwide lockdown.

Jordan

The severe curfew imposed by King Abdullah on 23 March which saw the closing of shops, bakeries and even pharmacies was relaxed on 27 March.

The kingdom had imposed an indefinite curfew to stop the spread of the coronavirus, closing all shops and institutions and leaving people with no way to buy food.

Since 25 March, however, people have been allowed to leave their homes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to run essential errands.

Jordan registered its first death in the kingdom due to the novel coronavirus at the weekend. The director of Prince Hamzah Hospital, Abdulrazaq Khashman, announced the death of an 83-year-old woman. 

"The octogenarian woman, has suffered from blood poisoning when she was transferred from a private hospital to the Prince Hamzah Hospital," the agency quoted Khashman as saying.

Jordan has reported 212 coronavirus cases.

Syria

The European Union announced almost 240 million euros (263.3 million dollars) in additional aid for Syrian refugees living in neighbouring Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon on Tuesday, noting that the funds should help people face off the coronavirus outbreak.

The money focusses in particular on areas such as social assistance, health, education and child protection. It brings the EU's overall regional refugee aid – excluding funds for Turkey – to more than 2 billion euros, according to a European Commission statement.

Lebanon

Lebanese authorities said on 31 March that they would allow expatriates to return despite a lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a move that could affect up to 20,000 people. The cabinet gave its initial approval for the proposal, which could be put in motion "in principle" from Sunday, a government statement said, without giving details of how it would be implemented.

An estimated 20,000 people "want to return to Lebanon", Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti told local television.

Beirut's international airport has been closed for nearly two weeks, along with schools, universities, restaurants and bars, and Lebanese have been urged to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Lebanon has reported 463 official cases of the virus and 12 deaths.

Israel

An Israeli parliamentary committee on 31 March approved the collection of personal data on citizens by domestic spy agencies, a controversial measure enacted for the purpose of battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in March the government authorised the internal security agency Shin Bet to collect information from private cell phones to facilitate Israel's response to the new coronavirus, which has infected more than 4,800 people in the country.

Rights groups challenged the measure and the supreme court ordered parliament to create an oversight committee to consider whether to authorise the digital surveillance.

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