Saudi Arabia reports record number of Covid-19 cases amid Gulf surge

Other Gulf Arab states have also seen infections surge in the past month, with Kuwait and Qatar also surpassing previous daily highs

Passengers arrive at the international airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Cases in the kingdom, which has the Gulf's largest population at about 35 million, have risen dramatically since the start of the year. Photo: AFP
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Saudi Arabia has announced its highest daily number of Covid-19 infections since the pandemic began, with 5,362 new coronavirus cases recorded in the 24-hour reporting period.

The latest infections raise the total recorded in the kingdom to 593,545 cases since the coronavirus outbreak started more than two years ago. The previous peak of daily infections was in June 2020, when 4,919 cases were detected in a single day.

Cases in the kingdom, which has the Gulf's largest population at about 35 million, have risen dramatically since the start of the year, fuelled by the global spread of the Omicron variant.

The wearing of masks in public has been made compulsory since the start of the year in Saudi Arabia. More than 52 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered and 23.3 million people are fully vaccinated, said Ministry of Health spokesman Dr Mohammed Al Abdulaali.

Other Gulf Arab states have also experienced surges in the past month, with Kuwait and Qatar also breaking previous daily case records.

In Kuwait, the number of new coronavirus cases surged to 4,397 on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 3,683 new Covid-19 cases registered a day earlier.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday changed its Covid-19 rules, announcing that unvaccinated people who come into contact with infected patients must undergo home quarantine for 14 days. The ministry also said that infected people must remain under home quarantine for seven days if vaccinated and 10 days if unvaccinated.

While the Cabinet decided against any closures, it said it will cut staff attendance at government institutions to 50 per cent of capacity in response to the sharp increase in cases in the country, driven by the Omicron variant.

Private sector employers have been told to “reduce the number of employees in offices to the least necessary to carry out work”.

Bahrain, which recorded 1,787 cases over the past day, announced it had updated its precautionary quarantine rules for vaccinated people who contract Covid-19, reducing the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven.

The latest rules issued on Wednesday come into effect on Thursday. Bahrain’s National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus said the precautionary quarantine period will be seven days from the date of infection for people that hold a green shield on the BeAware Bahrain application.

Green shield holders can exit quarantine after seven days without taking a PCR test, the task force added. People who are unvaccinated, or hold either a yellow or red shield on the BeAware Bahrain app, must quarantine for 10 days from the date of infection and can exit quarantine after 10 days without taking a PCR test.

Meanwhile in Qatar, 24 people have faced legal action for failing to adhere to Covid-19 measures, including wearing masks and using disinfectants.

Qatar recorded its highest daily number of new Covid-19 infections on Tuesday when it had 4,169 cases, surpassing its previous peak of 2,355 on May 30, 2020.

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention detected 2,616 new cases on Wednesday, after carrying out a further 300,893 tests.

Health authorities registered four deaths in the past day, raising the country's toll to 2,181. Meanwhile, 982 recovered in the 24-hour period.

Updated: January 12, 2022, 12:55 PM
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