The coronavirus disease COVID-19 continues to spread at the regional and global levels. As of 20 February 2021, the global cumulative incidence reached 110 402 899 reported cases and 2 446 178 associated deaths with a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.2%. Meanwhile, the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) have reported a total of 6 183 632 cases, which represent about 5.6% of the global count, with 142 025 associated deaths (CFR 2.3%). Most countries in the Region are in the community transmission phase.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the country that has reported the highest number of total cases in the Region is Islamic Republic of Iran (1 566 081 cases; 25.3% of the Region’s total), followed by Iraq (664 750; 10.8%) and Pakistan (571 174; 9.2%). Islamic Republic of Iran also reported the highest number of total associated deaths (59 409; CFR 3.8%) followed by Iraq (13 245; CFR 2%) and Pakistan (12 601; CFR 2.2%). The highest CFRs were reported by Yemen (28.6%) followed by Syrian Arab Republic (6.6%), while the lowest CFRs were reported by Qatar (0.2%) followed by United Arab Emirates (0.3%) and Bahrain (0.4%).
During epidemiological week 7, the Region reported an increase of 7.2% in cases when compared to the previous week (181 922 cases compared to 169 733 cases). Similarly, a 0.6% increase was observed for associated deaths (2482 deaths compared to 2468 deaths).
Somalia, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon reported a relative increase in COVID-19 activity in week 7. The cumulative number of cases increased from 5092 to 5889 in Somalia (15.7% weekly increase), from 345 605 to 368 175 in United Arab Emirates (7% weekly increase) and from 336 992 to 353 371 in Lebanon (4.9% weekly increase). Somalia, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon also had the largest relative increase in deaths.
In terms of testing, a total of 93 749 845 laboratory PCR tests were conducted since the start of the outbreak across the Region including 3 197 386 tests in week 7, which shows a 2% increase compared to the previous week (3 147 023). The highest number of PCR tests were reported from United Arab Emirates (29.2 million), followed by Saudi Arabia (13.3 million) and Islamic Republic of Iran (10.4 million). The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are performing the highest rates of testing per capita (2949/1000 and 1752/1000, respectively). The average positivity rate for the Region is 6.6%. WHO recommends a positivity rate of around 3–12% as a general benchmark indicating adequate testing, which was achieved in most countries of the Region.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccination has started in ten countries of the Region. The total number of doses administered so far include 5 557 793 in United Arab Emirates, 2 575 684 in Morocco, 541 411 in Saudi Arabia, 274 960 in Bahrain, 175 000 in Kuwait, 100 000 in Qatar, 57 791 in Oman, 70 109 in Jordan, 27 882 in Pakistan, 25 000 in Lebanon, Iran 10 000, 2000 Palestine, and 1315 in Egypt.
Supporting countries in the Region
The regional incident management support team continues to coordinate the response and provide technical support to countries and partners in the Region in the areas of coordination and partnership, surveillance, laboratory capacity, clinical management, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, points of entry according to the International Health Regulations (2005), research, health systems, and essential health services among others.