Pestilence Update

Special coverage: How many coronavirus cases are there in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)?

Blog note. Jesus indicated that ‘fearful sights’ (various natural disasters) would occur leading up to the time known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (a combined seven year period of great destruction on earth). Although these types of things have occurred in the past for centuries and thousands of years, they could be identified as the ‘season of the times’ due to the ferociousness of these events. They would be occurring in greater intensity, severity, frequency, size, duration, scope … just like the pains that a woman experiences in labor the farther along she is in the labor process. We are in the ‘season of the times’ that comes just before the seven (7) year Tribulation/Great Tribulation period


… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).


… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)


… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)


… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)
Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor.

Special coverage: How many coronavirus cases are there in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)?

Date of publication: 13 March, 2020 The New Arab

In early March, the World Health Organization declared that coronavirus’s global outbreak qualifies as a pandemic, with containment efforts unlikely to succeed.

The novel coronavirus ‘Covid-19’ had originated in Wuhan, a major city in China’s Hubei province, in late December, although some reports indicate the first case surfaced in November.

Since then, it has spread to the rest of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and the wider world.

Estimates of the morality rate vary, but it seems to particularly affect elderly people and those with underlying health conditions. Symptoms include a dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

The first case of coronavirus to hit the Middle East was detected in the UAE in early February. Since then, clusters of the contagious disease emerged in Iran, now one of the most hard hit countries outside Chinia; and it is feared the virus has taken hold in Egypt

With every passing day, more and more tourists returning to their countries from the popular North African destination are testing positive for Covid-19, but the authorities there have been accused of covering up the real figures.

As of March 12, the number of confirmed cases across the Middle East and North Africa region has surpassed 11,000.

As of March 12, confirmed cases in 18 (6+6+6) MENA nations are as follows:

Iran: 12,729
Qatar: 337
Bahrain: 210
Israel: 164
Kuwait: 104
Iraq: 101
Egypt: 93
Lebanon: 93
UAE: 85
Saudi Arabia: 86
Algeria: 37
Palestine: 31
Oman: 19
Tunisia: 16
Morocco: 8
Turkey: 5
Jordan: 1

In the coming weeks and months, the world’s nations will hope to slow down its spread instead, through ‘social distancing’, ramped up hygiene, and restrictions on travel, although experts are divided on how extreme the level of these measures should be. 

Many are hoping warmer temperatures will have a curbing effect on the contagion.

The virus is causing disruption and upheaval on a hitherto unseen scale.

Already ravaged by conflict, poverty, inequality, and poor governance, the MENA region is among the worst prepared for this outbreak.

MENA economies have been hit hard by the virus. Nations that rely on oil revenues are reeling as global demand for oil collapses, while those that rely on tourism and services face an uncertain future as visitors stay away and governments take draconian measures, effectively shutting down their entire public sphere to contain the virus, such as the case of Lebanon.

There are political and humanitarian ramifications too, from the Syrian refugee question in the light of the regional outbreak, to the effect of authoritarianism on government responses, and the Israeli capitalisation on the crisis to further clampdown on Palestinians in the occupied territories.

But with these bleak times, come stories of solidarity and heroism, from Iraq to Lebanon, as health workers risk their lives to protect patients and the larger community.

Throughout this challenging time, The New Arab’s team will provide sensitive and meaningful coverage of the coronavirus story, questioning the efforts of those in power to protect their citizens in the region, and delivering facts, analysis and stories of bravery and resilience.

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