Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

Coronavirus cases soar across GCC

Large number of tests and easing of lockdown may have contributed to rise in numbers

People ride jet-skis at Katara beach in the Qatari capital Doha on July 1, 2020. The country is easing its coronavirus lockdown after recording the highest number cases per million people in the world. AFP
People ride jet-skis at Katara beach in the Qatari capital Doha on July 1, 2020. The country is easing its coronavirus lockdown after recording the highest number cases per million people in the world. AFP

GCC nations are seeing alarming surges in coronavirus cases after a widespread easing of lockdown measures.

Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain all placed among the top 10 countries with the most cases for every million people, including those now recovered.

But deaths from the disease are much lower in the GCC compared with other nations.

Kuwait has the highest fatality rate in the GCC with 89 deaths for every million people, placing it 37th in the world.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had 60 and 59 deaths for every million, putting them in 50th and 51st spots.

Saudi Arabia has the 12th highest number of active cases, at 60,131. The kingdom has recorded 223,327 cases, including 3,183 new cases on Thursday.

It has also recorded 2,100 deaths from the respiratory disease.

Gulf nations have also been testing more than others around the world, leading to a more realistic picture.

Oman is 29th in the world for active cases, with 18,468, after what its health minister called a scary surge in infections.

The sultanate has introduced larger fines for not wearing a mask in public and on Thursday shut some businesses for breaking the rules.

Health Minister Ahmed Al Saidi blamed secret gatherings, including for weddings and birthdays, for the surge in cases over the past three weeks.

On Wednesday, the nation of 4.7 million people reached 50,000 cases.

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Coronavirus around the world

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Bahrain has 30,931 cases with 101 deaths. Its Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, ordered medical workers fighting the epidemic to be exempt from fines if they have not been able to renew their licences since February.

Bahrain Medical Society president, Dr Ghada Al Qassim, praised Prince Khalifa’s response, saying it confirmed his constant care and support for doctors.

Qatar topped the global list of infections for every million people, with more than 102,110 cases and 142 deaths.

"Measures taken to tackle Covid-19 in Qatar have succeeded in flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus," the Ministry of Public Health said.

"We are seeing a rise in the number of deaths in recent weeks and this is due to the people who were infected at the height of the virus several weeks ago."

Qatar has continued to reopen parts of its economy in recent weeks, subject to strict social-distancing measures

Its average daily number of new cases has begun to fall. In the past seven days there were an average of 748 new cases a day compared with 958 the week before.

Kuwait’s numbers continue to climb. It reported 833 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 52,840, or 12,370 for every million people.

Kuwait, like Oman is now seeing a surge outside of the immigrant population, with 536 of the new cases being among Kuwaitis.

Health ministry spokesman Dr Abdullah Al Sanad said nationals and expatriates must abide by health precautions.

Dr Al Sanad said following social-distancing rules was the only way to keep the virus at bay.

Updated: July 10, 2020 03:31 AM

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