Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Umrah suspension holds as new GCC cases steadily fall

Number of new cases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have steadily declined for almost a week

A Kuwaiti trader wearing a protective mask follows the market at the Boursa Kuwait stock exchange in Kuwait City on March 1, 2020. - Boursa Kuwait decided to close the main trading hall due to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease developments. Stock markets in the oil-rich Gulf states plunged on March 1 over fears of the impact of the coronavirus, which also battered global bourses last week. All of the seven exchanges in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which were closed the previous two days for the Muslim weekend, were hit as oil prices dropped below $50 a barrel. The region's slide was led by Kuwait Boursa, where the All-Share Index fell 10 percent, triggering its closure. Kuwait's bourse was closed for most of last week for national holidays. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)
A Kuwaiti trader wearing a protective mask follows the market at the Boursa Kuwait stock exchange in Kuwait City on March 1, 2020. - Boursa Kuwait decided to close the main trading hall due to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease developments. Stock markets in the oil-rich Gulf states plunged on March 1 over fears of the impact of the coronavirus, which also battered global bourses last week. All of the seven exchanges in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which were closed the previous two days for the Muslim weekend, were hit as oil prices dropped below $50 a barrel. The region's slide was led by Kuwait Boursa, where the All-Share Index fell 10 percent, triggering its closure. Kuwait's bourse was closed for most of last week for national holidays. (Photo by YASSER AL-ZAYYAT / AFP)

Saudi Arabia is to maintain a suspension on Umrah pilgrimages as it eases coronavirus restrictions, Ryadh announced as its number of new cases fell for the sixth straight day.

Umrah journeys to the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah were halted in February.

“This is subject to periodical review according to the curve of the pandemic and recommendations issued from the committee,” the Ministry for Hajj and Umrah said.

Millions of Muslims from around the world flock to the holiest sites in Islam during Umrah, which can be performed at any time of the year.

This week, Saudi Arabia announced a phased plan for easing virus-related restrictions to allow gradual return to normal life.

From Sunday, congregations, including those at Friday prayers, will be allowed in mosques except for Makkah, and domestic air travel will resume as employees are set to return to their offices.

Picnic boats in the kingdom will be allowed to restart business from next week.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday announced 1,644 new cases of Covid-19, compared with 1,851 the day before, bringing the total to 80,185.

There were also 3,531 more recoveries and 16 deaths, making the totals 54,553 and 441.

Oman's Health Ministry confirmed 636 new cases of the coronavirus, taking the country's total to to 9,009.

The newly diagnosed cases include 345 Omanis and 291 foreigners, the ministry said.

The sultanate also announced two deaths, raising the country's total to 40 – an expatriate, 58, and an Omani woman, 51.

Oman has this week eased some restrictions earlier imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and the lockdown on the capital Muscat is set to be eased on Friday.

Kuwait reported 845 new cases of the novel coronavirus, the lowest number in almost a week of steadily declining cases, raising the country's infection tally to 24,112.

The Health Ministry also announced 10 more deaths, making the total 185, and 752 recoveries.

A 20-day full lockdown is due to end on Saturday to be replaced with a 12-hour lockdown from 6pm to 6am as a step towards gradually restoring normal life.

Updated: May 29, 2020 01:19 AM

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