Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia's cases rise by a fifth in one day
It comes as Bahrain announces its second death and Kuwait imposes 11-hour curfew to combat spread of virus
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday that its coronavirus cases rose by a fifth in 24 hours to 511, as Bahrain reported its second death caused by Covid-19.
The Saudi Health Ministry said 72 of the new cases were in Makkah, 34 in Riyadh, four in Al Qaif, three each in Khobar and Al Ahsa, and one each in Dammam, Qassim and Dhahran.
“We have to obey the social distancing rules to avoid these disturbing cases,” a ministry spokesman said in Riyadh.
Bahrain said its second fatality from the virus was a woman, 51, who suffered chronic health problems.
She was among a number of Bahrainis who were recently flown from Iran and was placed under quarantine, the ministry said.
Bahrain has reported 183 cases of the virus, three of whom are in a critical state while 149 have been discharged, the ministry said.
Gulf states together have recorded more than 1,000 infections, many linked to travel to neighbouring Iran, which is the centre for the outbreak in the Middle East.
The surge in cases in Saudi Arabia came despite measures such as closing down mosques for the five daily prayers and Friday congregations, halting flights and suspending Umrah pilgrimages.
Over the weekend, the Saudi Defence Ministry started to open mobile hospitals across the country, the state news agency reported.
The centres are equipped with advanced machinery and have a medical team, the agency said.
The country has also temporarily suspended work for the government sector and most of the private sector.
Meanwhile, in a rare address to the public on Sunday, Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah called for unity.
Sheikh Sabah urged all citizens to abide by measures to prevent the spread of the virus and assured the public that the authorities were doing all they could to contain it.
“The battle against coronavirus requires everyone to adhere to preventive measures and should not be taken lightly or with ease,” he said.
“We are arranging for Kuwaiti students abroad to return, as required by the medical procedures.
Sheikh Sabah said Kuwait would curb the virus through unity, solidarity and sacrifice.
"This is a decisive battle against a fierce enemy. It is everyone's battle," he said, warning against public gatherings.
The Kuwaiti government announced a nationwide 11-hour curfew daily from 5pm to 4am, starting on Sunday until further notice.
“Regrettably, failing to comply with the Ministry of Health’s instructions to stay indoors has forced the government to impose a partial curfew,” said Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister, Anas Al Saleh.
A Civil Defence committee will issue identification cards for people in vital sectors to ensure they can move about during the curfew.
A two-week suspension of government and private sector work has also been applied.
The Kuwait Health Ministry announced another 12 cases of the virus, raising the total to 188.
Oman also took precautionary measures to avoid the disease spreading.
The government has set up a Supreme Committee for Dealing with Covid-19.
On Sunday it announced the suspension of the printing, distribution and sale of newspapers, magazines and publications.
It also reduced the number of employees in public offices to 30 per cent. The others will continue to work from home as indicated by their employers.
The committee has banned all types of public gatherings and warned it will punish those in breach.
Oman has reported 55 cases of coronavirus with no deaths.
Updated: March 23, 2020 12:10 PM