BEIRUT — World Health Organization officials warn coronavirus infections have been on the rise in the 22 countries of the eastern Mediterranean region after two months of steady decline because of increased international travel and limited vaccination.
The region, which includes the Gulf, North African, and Asian countries, has registered over 11 million infections and more than 220,000 deaths since last year. Iran has been the worst impacted by the pandemic, followed by Iraq.
WHO region director Ahmed Al-Mandhari says another spike is likely in the summer as countries struggle to keep their borders open and their economies active. Despite efforts to contain the virus, a higher weekly average of new cases has been reported across the region compared to the same time last year, he said.
There’s been limited distribution of vaccines and the delta variant has been detected in 13 of the 22 countries.