The death toll from the novel coronavirus continued to rise in Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Wednesday, as the Middle East struggles to combat the spread of the pandemic.

In Saudi Arabia, the Health Ministry said 44 people died and 2,313 others contracted the disease over the past 24 hours.

Wednesday’s tally pushed the total cases to 258,156, including 2,601 fatalities, and 210,298 recoveries.

In Qatar, the Health Ministry said the virus claimed three more lives and infected 441 people, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 107,871, including 163 fatalities, and 104,641 recoveries.

Since first appearing in China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 188 countries and regions. The US, Brazil, India, and Russia are currently the countries hardest hit in the world.

The pandemic has killed over 617,200 people worldwide, with more than 14.9 million confirmed cases, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The number of recoveries from the pandemic across the globe has topped 8.4 million.

* Writing by Zehra Nur Duz from Ankara

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