GCC countries reintroduce Covid measures amid surge in cases

Daily Covid-19 rates reported by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait up from previous peak recorded in summers of 2021 and 2020

Bahrain’s Covid-fighting robot uses UV light to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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Several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have gradually reintroduced social distancing and other precautionary measures amid a recent surge in daily Covid-19 cases.

In Qatar, some schools and kindergartens have re-implemented distance learning measures until at least January 27 and public transport capacity was reduced to 60 per cent. Capacity at cinemas, exhibitions and other cultural events has now been limited to 50 per cent and to vaccinated people only, while workplaces will continue to operate at 100 per cent capacity.

Children under 12 years will not be allowed to enter shopping malls in Qatar, even if they are accompanied by vaccinated parents, starting from next Saturday. The latest decision comes as the country has approved the administration of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 booster vaccines for children aged 12 to 15.

In Kuwait, the health ministry has called on citizens and residents to restrict travelling abroad to emergency cases only and called on those coming from abroad to abide by the health quarantine regulations and avoid contacting others until quarantine ends. The call comes as Kuwait said daily Covid-19 cases reached 2,999 on Sunday, a new daily high since the country's first case of the virus was reported in February 2020.

Bahrain has also issued new guidelines for international air passengers arriving in the country that came into effect on Monday.

Fully vaccinated air passengers and passengers who have recently recovered from Covid-19 must present, before boarding their flight to Bahrain, a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure. Unvaccinated passengers must also present a negative PCR test administered within 72 hours of departure but will have to undergo quarantine for 10 days at their residence or in a hotel.

Saudi Arabia's new Covid-19 cases rose on Monday, with 4,778 new infections recorded over the past day, exceeding the 4,000-mark for the first time in weeks. Saudi Arabia recently updated its Covid-19 regulations, announcing that those who refuse a temperature check before entering public or private places, and those who do not follow social distancing rules, will receive a 1,000 Saudi riyal ($266) fine. In repeat offences, the fine can rise to 100,000 riyals.

Updated: January 10, 2022, 3:07 PM