UAE extends coronavirus curfew and Saudi Arabia locks down parts of Jeddah

UAE extends coronavirus curfew and Saudi Arabia locks down parts of Jeddah

FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask walks through the deserted Barajeel Souq, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in old Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo

DUBAI/RIYADH: The United Arab Emirates has extended a de facto overnight curfew indefinitely to disinfect public areas to fight the spread of coronavirus and Saudi Arabia has locked down parts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

The UAE's disinfection drive, which consists of spraying streets, parks and public transport facilities, runs from 8pm (1600 GMT) to 6am and people must stay at home during those hours, state-run news agency WAM said late on Friday.

The curfew came in on Mar 26 and was extended last week until Apr 5.

"The Ministry of Health Prevention and the Ministry of Interior have announced the continuation of the National Disinfection Programme," WAM said, without saying when the operation would end.

The oil-rich federation has reported an uptick in coronavirus cases with several hundred people diagnosed since April 1. The UAE recommends that people wear masks when leaving home, a health ministry spokeswoman told a news conference broadcast on TV.

On Saturday, UAE reported 241 infections and one death over the past 24 hours, taking the total confirmed cases to 1,505 and the death toll to 10, according to government tweets.

In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the authorities announced a lockdown and a partial curfew in seven neighbourhoods of Jeddah starting on Saturday as part of measures to contain the outbreak, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is the country worst hit by the pandemic in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) group of Arab oil monarchies. It had reported 2,179 cases of confirmed infections up until Saturday and 29 deaths.

The interior ministry said residents in the seven Jeddah neighbourhoods could only go out for grocery shopping and medical care between 6am(0300 GMT) and 3pmand movement in and out of the areas will be restricted.

Similar measures have been announced in the past few days in other Saudi cities, including the Gulf port of Dammam, the main entry point for supply to the kingdom's oil industry.

Kuwait announced its first death from COVID-19 on Saturday. The total number of people diagnosed with the disease in the country rose by 62 over the past 24 hours to 479, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA said, citing the health ministry.

Kuwait and Oman are the GCC countries least affected by the pandemic. Oman had reported 277 cases and one death up until Saturday while Qatar last updated its official COVID-19 page on Friday, reporting 1,075 cases and three deaths.

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Source: Reuters