Coronavirus: official death toll in Saudi Arabia exceeds 1,000

Health ministry also confirms a record jump of 4,507 infections in a single day

Shoppers have their temperatures checked before entering a mall in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, June 15, 2020. This was supposed to be Saudi Arabia's year to shine as host of the prestigious G20 gathering of world leaders. Instead, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the gathering this November will likely be a virtual meet-up. The impact of the coronavirus and low oil prices have forced a recalibration of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans to revamp Saudi society and its oil-dependent economy.  (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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The number coronavirus deaths in Saudi Arabia breached the 1,000 mark this week, as the government warned against widespread breach of social-distancing rules.

The health ministry on Monday confirmed 39 fatalities, bringing the death toll to 1,011, and a new record of 4,507 daily cases.

Ministry spokesman Mohammad Al Abdel Aali said the surge was “due to a number of factors, most important of which is not taking the necessary precautions”.

“The active spread of the virus is due to social mixing,” he said.

The spokesman said the rate of infections has declined but could resume climbing “if society continues not to adhere to and abide by” social distancing and other containment measures.

Saudi Arabia now has 132,048 Covid-19 cases, among them 1,897 in critical condition, and 87,890 recoveries.

The health ministry has been expanding a social media campaign to promote social distancing as a kingdom-wide restriction is due to be lifted on June 21.

The government, which vowed to restore normal economic activity after an extended spell of restrictions, has cautioned against relying on unofficial data that could give a misleading picture of the coronavirus situation in the country.

The authorities last month allowed offices and business to reopen and prayers at mosques to resume, although 71 mosques were later closed after cases linked to them were reported.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday 527 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of infections to 36,958, Kuwait state news agency KUNA reported.

In the daily news conference, official spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Dr Abdullah Al Sanad said that the total count of the deaths as a result of the virus climbed to 303 with the addition of five new fatalities, recorded in the past 24 hours.

Earlier, the Health Ministry announced the recovery of 675 people from the coronavirus, bringing the tally to 28,206.

Oman's Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday 745 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Sultanate to 25,269.

The Oman News Agency, ONA, quoted the ministry as saying that the country had also registered 114 deaths as a result of the disease.

The ministry also pointed out that 11,089 patients had recovered from the virus.

The new figures come two days after Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq set up a national committee to counter the impact on the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, the official news agency reported on Sunday as the death toll passed 100.

“The committee shall deal with the economic effects resulting from the pandemic by setting an appropriate mechanism to ensure the speedy return of economic activities and ensure accelerated economic growth rates,” ONA said.

Elsewhere in the region, Turkey made the wearing of face masks mandatory in five more provinces, following an uptick in Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted early Tuesday that the wearing of masks is now compulsory in 42 of Turkey's 81 provinces.

In the remaining provinces, residents are required to wear masks on public transportation and in shops and malls, and are being advised to wear masks and keep to social distancing practices elsewhere.

Mr Koca tweeted: "we cannot struggle against the virus without masks."

Turkey is seeing an upward trend in the daily number of infections after the government authorised cafes, restaurants, gyms, parks, beaches and museums to reopen, lifted inter-city travel restrictions and eased stay-at-home orders for the elderly and young at the start of June.

The daily number of infections climbed to above 1,500 in the past five days after hovering around 800-900 previously. The country has registered a total of 179,831 cases and 4,825 deaths.

Iran said on Tuesday a third straight day of more than 100 coronavirus deaths took its overall toll past 9,000, attributing the spike to increased travel by its citizens.

Health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari warned the bleak figures could get even worse unless people stayed at home for the upcoming long weekend.

She said the increase in the daily toll was "due in large part to people's travel in recent weeks".

"We ask you to avoid unnecessary trips during the upcoming holidays so as not to see an increase in statistics in the future."

Iran has a public holiday on Wednesday, the last day of the working week, making the upcoming weekend a three-day break.

Ms Lari said the 115 new deaths in the past 24 hours took Iran's overall toll to 9,065.

She said another 2,563 people tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 192,439 since the start of Iran's outbreak.