Gulf countries Kuwait and Oman yesterday announced further restrictions to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Kuwait said it would start enforcing a partial curfew and extended a precautionary holiday for all employees for two more weeks.
A curfew is to take effect across the country starting since yesterday from 5pm-7am until further notice, Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA reported.
Violating the curfew will be punishable by up to three years in prison, the agency quoted a government statement as saying.
The Kuwaiti Health Ministry yesterday reported 12 new virus cases, raising to 188 the total of infections in the country.
This week, the small oil-rich country extended the closure of all educational institutions until August.
OMAN GOVT BANS PUBLIC GATHERINGS
In Oman, authorities decided yesterday to ban public gatherings and drastically cut the workforce at government institutions, the latest steps to curb the spread of the Covid-19.
The number of employees present at each government workplace should not exceed 30% of the overall workforce, Oman’s official news agency ONA reported.
Omani authorities urged private businesses to turn to remote working and advised against the use of banknotes in favour of electronic payment.
An Omani state committee also ordered a halt to printing newspapers, magazines and all leaflets to prevent the spread of the virus, the agency added.
Sale and circulation of publications issued abroad will also be banned in Oman.
The measures came shortly after health authorities announced three new virus cases, bringing total infections to 55 in Oman. Oman also shut currency exchange bureaus as part of measures to fight the coronavirus spread.
Other Gulf states have barred entry to foreigners.
Some supermarkets in Kuwait are allowing only 50 shoppers at a time and taking their temperature, a Reuters witness said.
In Saudi Arabia, the Defence Ministry has started deploying mobile hospitals, state news agency SPA reported.
The kingdom has temporarily suspended work in the government sector and most of the private sector.
Authorities in regional business and trade hub in the United Arab Emirates have encouraged people to stay at home and work remotely, but has yet to declare an official suspension of work.
The UAE over the weekend reported two deaths linked to the virus, its first fatalities.
Saudi Arabia reported a jump of almost a quarter in coronavirus cases yesterday while the United Arab Emirates pumped more money into its economy as its state-owned carrier Emirates said it would halt almost all passenger flights, Reuters reported.
Saudi Arabia recorded 119 new cases of the virus for a total of 511, the highest in the Gulf region, the Health Ministry said.
Bahrain reported a second death yesterday, a citizen evacuated from Iran, taking the GCC’s total to four..
The Amir of Kuwait, which has imposed a partial nationwide curfew, said the government must to spare no expense or effort to fight the virus.
“This is a decisive battle against a fierce enemy. It is everyone’s battle,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah said in a rare televised speech, warning against public gatherings.
The UAE, the region’s tourism and business hub, approved an additional 16bn dirhams ($4.36bn) yesterday for a total stimulus package of 126bn dirhams, according to a tweet from its vice president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
The vital tourism and hospitality sector in Dubai, the region’s most diversified economy, has been hit hard by the disruption to global travel.
Emirates, one of the world’s biggest airlines, said it would suspend passenger operations — with the exception of repatriation flights to some 13 countries — by Wednesday.
Cargo operations continue. “We find ourselves in a situation where we cannot viably operate passenger services until countries reopen their borders,” chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said. The Dubai World Cup, one of the world’s richest horse races, has been cancelled.
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