Saudi Arabia’s daily cases exceed 2,000 for first time

Infections across GCC continue to rise as Eid Al Fitr holiday approaches

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of Kaaba at the Grand mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/File Photo

Daily new coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 2,000 for the first time and infections continued to rise sharply across the GCC, official data showed on Thursday.

The Saudi Health Ministry said 2,039 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, bringing the number of cases to 46,869, including 283 deaths.

At the start of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia eased lockdowns and allowed shops and factories to reopen, because of the social nature of the holy month and the need to resume at least part of the economy.

But officials warned that the easing should not be taken as a licence to ignore social distancing and other precautions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Saudi Interior Ministry said this week that lockdown measures would be tightened again, with a resumption of curfews across the country during the Eid holidays from May 23 to May 27.

Most GCC countries have eased lockdown measures for Ramadan.

Kuwait recorded 947 new cases on Thursday, bringing total infections there to 11,975.

The authorities said six more people died, for a total of 88.

Kuwaiti firefighters have been undergoing testing after infections were discovered in one unit, the official news agency Kuna reported.

A fire official will also be investigated for broadcasting a video on social media “aimed at spreading lies and rumours” about the coronavirus, Kuna said.

As part of official efforts to foster solidarity amid the contagion, Bahrain authorities will pay debts for women who were dealt “judicial sentencing”.

The Bahrain News Agency said the move came upon the recommendation of Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim, wife of King Hamad.

Qatar’s Health Ministry said 1,733 more people were infected, and that there were now 24,902 active cases.

Total infections stood at 28,272.

Oman recorded 322 new cases, bringing the total to 4,341.

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