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Coronavirus

Gulf countries re-impose COVID-19 restrictions as new cases near 2020 highs

Published: Updated:

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.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

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 except for 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.

Read more:

COVID-19 vaccination drives across the GCC: How do they compare?

Saudi Arabia shuts down 12 mosques, Bahrain suspends all group prayers

UAE reports highest coronavirus daily death toll since beginning of pandemic