Coronavirus: Kuwait has first 1,000 jump in cases

Kuwaiti emir says contagion will affect government’s financial flows

Paople queue in front of a shop to refill their gas cylinders in Kuwait City on May 10, 2020, a day after Kuwaiti authorities announced a 20-day total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown will be implemented from May 10 to 30, during which public sector tasks will be performed remotely while private sector activities are suspended except for essential functions, Kuwait's relevant authorities announced on Twitter. / AFP / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT
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Kuwait recorded 1,000 new coronavirus cases in a day for the first time on Sunday, as nine patients died and the emir warned of an economic squeeze.

Authorities closed Kuwait's Co-op supermarkets after 40 per cent of the chain’s 260 employees tested positive for the coronavirus, local media said.

The infections at one of the country’s main retail outlets raised fears that large numbers of customers had been also infected.

That prompted authorities to impose a 24-hour lockdown from 4pm on Sunday until May 30.

All but essential businesses will remain closed and public sector services will be available only online.

The 1,065 new cases reported on Sunday raised the number of people infected in the country to 8,688, of whom 58 have died.

The Kuwaiti emir, Sheikh Sabah, said the coronavirus-related drops in oil price would affect the solvency of the state and the government must take steps to contain public spending.

In an address to the country on Saturday, Sheikh Sabah said Kuwait faced “a big and unprecedented challenge to preserve the safety and solidity of our national economy from the external shocks as a result of this contagion”.

He said the government should “work on a programme to streamline public expenditure” amid  the drop in oil prices and and decrease in the value of assets and investments, which will harm Kuwait's financial solvency.

On oil, Sheikh Sabah called on the government to implement "plans to lessen dependence on one depleting resource so our sons and the next generations enjoy the dignified life.”

Saudi Arabia continued to report sharp increases in cases since it allowed businesses to reopen 10 days ago.

The Saudi Health Ministry announced 1,912 new cases on Sunday, bringing the official total to 39,048 people infected and 246 deaths.

Qatar also reported a big jump in infections, with 1,189 new cases raising the total past 22,000 on Sunday.

The Health Ministry said there was one death and 254 recoveries in the previous 24 hours, raising the death toll to 14 and the number of recoveries to 2,753.

Oman, where restrictions on movement have been relatively light, recorded 175 new cases, bringing the total to 3,399.

Bahrain reported 82 new infections on Sunday. Of the country's 4,856 cases so far, 2,783 are still under treatment, including two in intensive care, health officials said.


Coronavirus in the Middle East