Covid-19 virus concern: Gulf Arab states launch new restrictions

Gulf Arab states on Thursday announced that the country launched new restrictions over fears of the coronavirus resurgence in their regions.

With populations including largely young and healthy foreign labourers, many Gulf countries have avoided the higher death tolls seen elsewhere around the world. However, reported case numbers appear to be rising since the New Year, sparking concern even as several regional countries have some of the highest per capita vaccination rates in the world.

In Saudi Arabia, where authorities already have cancelled travel to the kingdom from 20 countries, including the United States, officials also ordered all weddings and parties suspended. It closed down all shopping malls, gyms and other locations for 10 days, as well as indoor dining. Authorities warned the new measures could be extended.

The kingdom also ordered cemeteries to ensure it conducted graveside funerals with a distance of 100 meters between them. State-run Saudi Press Agency blamed the new procedures on "the emergence of indicators of an increase in the epidemic curve in some regions of Saudi Arabia that were caused by lax implementation of the preventive and precautionary measures and approved protocols."

Saudi Arabia saw a peak in Covid-19 cases in June. The kingdom brought those daily reported case numbers down under 100 in early January, but reported over 300 cases on Wednesday alone, according to government statistics. Overall, the kingdom has reported over 368,000 cases of COVID-19, with 6,380 deaths.

In Kuwait, authorities have ordered a two-week ban on foreigners arriving to the country beginning Sunday. Separately, officials have ordered most businesses closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Sunday for the next month. It closed health clubs, spas and gyms, as well as banned celebrations for its upcoming Feb. 25 National Day. "Non-compliance and recklessness could take the country back to square one in its fight against the pandemic," Kuwaiti Health Minister Dr. Basel Al Sabah said, according to the state-run KUNA news agency.

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