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Mideast’s confirmed coronavirus death toll goes over 50,000

Iran the hardest-hit country; numbers may be an undercount, as testing in war-torn nations like Libya and Yemen remains extremely limited

Shiite Muslim worshipers, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, attend the "Tasua" (ninth day) mourning ritual to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein during the Islamic month of Muharram ahead of Ashura, at the Tehran University campus in Iran's capital on August 29, 2020. (AFP)
Shiite Muslim worshipers, mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, attend the "Tasua" (ninth day) mourning ritual to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein during the Islamic month of Muharram ahead of Ashura, at the Tehran University campus in Iran's capital on August 29, 2020. (AFP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The confirmed death toll from the coronavirus went over 50,000 in the Middle East on Thursday as the pandemic continues.

That’s according to a count from The Associated Press, based on official numbers offered by health authorities across the region.

Those numbers still may be an undercount, though, as testing in war-torn nations like Libya and Yemen remains extremely limited. The top UN official for Libya on Wednesday warned the coronavirus pandemic in the war-ravaged country appears to be “spiraling out of control.” Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who hold parts of the nation, have refused to release virus statistics.

The hardest-hit nation remains Iran, which saw the region’s first major outbreak. Over 21,900 people have died there from the virus, with over 380,000 confirmed cases and 328,000 recoveries.

In this picture taken on September 1, 2020, a health official takes a swab sample from a woman to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus at a testing site in Karachi. (Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP)

Israel just recorded a record-high 3,000 new cases in a day as the country’s coronavirus czar is set to submit a list of more detailed recommended restrictions where infection rates have been highest. Israel had earned praise for its early handling of the virus crisis and imposing tight movement restrictions. But since reopening the economy in May, new cases have spiked to record levels and the government has been blamed for mismanaging the resurgence.

Pakistan’s numbers have continued to decline — befuddling expectations in mid-June when even the authorities were anticipating a massive increase in cases. In Afghanistan, the government also has opened up its recreational facilities and most businesses. But experts fear the real numbers are likely far higher than officially reported.

The United Arab Emirates, which has embarked on a mass testing campaign, saw its highest daily confirmed new case count in over three months. That came as schools have reopened in the country and Dubai has offered itself as a tourist destination.

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