Health

Coronavirus cases surge in Gulf Arab States

All six Gulf
states had confirmed cases of the omicron variant in their territories, but
official daily coronavirus data does not provide a breakdown by COVID-19
variant.

Saudi
Arabia, the largest with a population of some 30 million, on Tuesday registered
2,585 new infections, up from some 1,000 cases announced on Sunday. It is still
below a peak of more than 4,700 in June 2020.

Saudi
authorities on Dec 30 made wearing masks in public compulsory again, after
having earlier that month advised against non-essential travel overseas.

Much smaller
neighbour Qatar reported 1,695 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest
daily number since last summer. For days, crowds have queued at PCR testing
sites in Qatar, which in January reintroduced remote school learning.

Soha
al-Bayat, Qatar’s head of vaccination, told state television on Sunday that a
spike in the last two weeks was “related to the omicron variant” and
that more recent cases were among unvaccinated individuals, including children,
and people who received two doses more than six months ago.

Regional
tourism and commercial hub the United Arab Emirates saw daily cases cross the
2,500-level on Sunday, as it hosts a world fair during its peak tourist season.

Kuwait
registered 1,492 new daily cases on Tuesday, levels last seen in July 2021.
Authorities earlier this week banned public events in closed spaces until Feb.
28.

Bahrain,
where the daily number of cases peaked at some 3,000 last May before falling to
around 100 in July, on Tuesday registered close to 900 infections. The island
state in December limited non-essential activities to fully vaccinated
individuals.

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