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Israel's Health Minister Has Virus, Top Officials to Isolate

The new coronavirus is forcing more top Israeli officials into isolation after the country's health minister, who has had frequent contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tested positive, the Health Ministry said Thursday.

The Middle East has over 78,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of those in Iran, and over 3,500 deaths. In Lebanon, the Philippines ambassador, Bernardita Catalla, died of complications from the coronavirus Thursday, the Philippines said. Lebanon has recorded 479 infected cases, and 14 deaths.

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Music Never Dies: "Bolero" Busts Out of Coronavirus Lockdown

Look closely: The kettle drum player has a wooden spoon in one hand, a ladle in the other ... and doesn't even have his drums.

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Hizbullah Shifts Attention from Syria Fight to Battle Virus

In the streets of Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah paramedics and volunteers on trucks and on foot sprayed disinfectants on shops and buildings. At a hospital where it once treated its wounded fighters, the group's medical staff set up beds for a center to deal with coronavirus patients.

Hizbullah says it is turning the organizational might it once deployed to fight Israel or in the civil war in neighboring Syria to battle the spread of the virus pandemic in Lebanon.

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Israeli Jets Spark Panic in Lebanon during Syria Raid

Israeli warplanes flew at low altitude Tuesday over the Lebanese regions of Metn and Keserwan, sparking a state of panic, state-run National News Agency reported.

Syria’s state news agency SANA later reported that Syrian air defenses were engaging “hostile targets” over the central Syrian region of Homs.

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Whales Face More Fatal Ship Collisions as Waters Warm

Climate change is imperiling the world's largest animals by increasing the likelihood of fatal collisions between whales and big ships that ply the same waters.

Warming ocean temperatures are causing some species of whales in pursuit of food to stray more frequently into shipping lanes, scientists say.

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With Virus, Cherished Lebanon Traditions Come to Abrupt Halt

As the pandemic continues to spread, governments across the Middle East are clamping down on the region's cherished traditions: No more massive weddings and celebrations. No more evenings spent mostly by men in traditional coffee shops across the region. And most importantly, no more smoking of the beloved shisha, or water pipe, in public places.

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British Prime Minister Johnson Tests Positive for Virus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but remains in charge of the U.K.'s response to the outbreak.

Johnson's office said he was tested on the advice of the chief medical officer after showing mild symptoms.

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Curfews Extended as USAID Declares Aid Suspension in Yemen

As countries across the Middle East tighten restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus, a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development said Thursday that it would suspend humanitarian aid to parts of Yemen over restrictions by the Houthi rebels that predate the pandemic.

A spokesman for USAID, one of the largest donors to U.N. operations in Yemen, told The Associated Press that it will "partially suspend" its operations the following day in Houthi rebel-held areas, where 70% of Yemenis live.

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U.S. Cases Now Most in World, U.S. Capital Sees More Infections

The United States's caseload of coronavirus infections surged to the most in the world and its capital reported more infections as Italy shut most of its industry and masses of Indian day laborers received food rations after a lockdown put them out of work.

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In Iran, False Belief a Poison Fights Virus Kills Hundreds

Standing over the still body of an intubated 5-year-old boy wearing nothing but a plastic diaper, an Iranian health care worker in a hazmat suit and mask begged the public for just one thing: Stop drinking industrial alcohol over fears about the new coronavirus.

The boy, now blind after his parents gave him toxic methanol in the mistaken belief it protects against the virus, is just one of hundreds of victims of an epidemic inside the pandemic now gripping Iran.

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