Some Gulf states see daily COVID cases back up near 2020 highs

FILE PHOTO: A first responder wearing a protective suit arrives to take a patient, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Al Quoz industrial district of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

DUBAI (Reuters) – Several Gulf Arab states have seen daily coronavirus cases climb back towards highs recorded last year, prompting authorities to re-impose restrictions on travel and gatherings as they roll out vaccination campaigns.

Bahrain on Tuesday registered 759 new daily infections, slightly above a record hit in September. It banned prayers at mosques for two weeks as of Thursday, state news agency BNA said. Daily infections had fallen below 200 late last year.

In Kuwait, daily cases rose above 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time since May after having fallen below 300 in December.

The country on Feb. 7 suspended entry of non-Kuwaitis for two weeks except for first-degree relatives, such as parents and children, and accompanying domestic workers. It also closed gyms and salons.

Saudi Arabia, where daily infections have risen to above 300 but are still far from highs near 4,000 reached last year, has indefinitely suspended entry for non-citizens from 20 countries with the exception of diplomats and health workers.

The United Arab Emirates, the region’s tourism hub to which visitors flocked in December, has seen the biggest surge with daily infections tripling in around six weeks to a record 3,977 on Feb. 3.

The numbers have since edged down but the UAE on Tuesday recorded 17 deaths linked to the virus, its highest daily figure since the outbreak began.

The UAE ranks among top countries globally, along with Bahrain, for most vaccine doses administered per population.

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