Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia records four new deaths as it tightens containment measures

Gulf nations have implemented strict regulations to limit public interaction as caseloads mount across the region

epa08319225 A view of deserted streets after curfew was imposed amid the outbreak of coronavirus, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 24 March 2020.  Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has announced a nation-wide curfew from dawn to dusk starting from 24 March for the duration of 21 days. According to local media reports Saudi Arabia has registered 51 new cases on 23 March bringing the total to 562 cases, 19 of them have recovered.  EPA/ALI AHMAD
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Saudi Arabia recorded four new deaths on Sunday as the number of new coronavirus cases rose to 96.

The Gulf region has implemented extensive measures to curb the spread of the virus during the last two weeks, with many countries closing public spaces and restricting movement to limit social interaction.

“The total number of infected cases are now 1,299 across the country, with four new deaths on Sunday taking the toll of those who lost their lives to eight in the country,” the health ministry said on Twitter.

An entry and exit ban was imposed on Riyadh, Mecca and Medina last week.

Saudi Arabia also shut down entry and exit into Jeddah governorate and brought forward a curfew to 3pm, state news agency SPA said on Sunday.

The curfew previously took effect in the evening after King Salman ordered people to stay in from 7pm to 6am across the kingdom to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“The industrial and agricultural activity will continue in daytime,” interior ministry spokesman, Talal Al Shalhoub, said.

He warned that the security force will “have in its grip” anyone posting material on social media mocking the curfew.

 

On Saturday, the kingdom extended its suspension of international passenger flights indefinitely and domestic bus, taxi and train services are also suspended until further notice.

The suspension will remain in place until further notice, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Exceptional cases are exempt from the decision.

The country is also extending suspension of workplace attendance for the private sector and government agencies until further notice.

The kingdom's Ministry of Education said it has prepared and equipped six university hospitals to assist the health sector’s efforts in containing the virus.

More than 3,000 beds are now prepared for emergency cases and 77 buildings from 20 universities are ready to be used for medical quarantine, the ministry said.

The government said it seized more than five million medical masks that were being kept illegally in violation of commercial regulations, the state news agency reported.

The commerce ministry confiscated 1.17 million masks from a private store in Hail, northwest of the capital, after authorities on Wednesday seized more than four million masks stored in a facility in the western city of Jeddah.

Pharmacies across the kingdom say they are running short of mask supplies amid panic buying. The ministry said people behind such activities would be prosecuted and that the confiscated masks would be redistributed to the open market.

Kuwait on Sunday reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus taking the total infections tally to 255. The country has also imposed partial curfews.

“Twenty new cases have been found, of them, seven are linked to residents travelling to the UK while the remaining 13 contracted the virus after being in contact with an infected patient,” Kuwait’s health ministry said in a statement.

A nationwide curfew is in effect from 5pm to 4am until further notice.

The UAE has put in place a night curfew until April 5 under a nationwide campaign to sterilise streets and public venues.

The Emirates asked everyone to stay indoors during the campaign.

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