Saudi Arabia imposed a 24-hour curfew on Thursday in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina,extending measures to fight coronavirus,while other Gulf Arab states locked down districts with large migrant worker populations.
The Saudi interior ministry stipulated exceptions,including for essential workers and to allow residents to buy food and access medical care.Cars may only carry one passenger.
Saudi Arabia has recorded 1,885 infections and 21 deaths,the most in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.It has already halted international flights,suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage,closed most public places,and heavily restricted internal movement.
The eastern oil-producing province of Qatif,where the kingdom’s first Coronavirus cases were reported among Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims returning from Iran,has been on lockdown for nearly four weeks.
Entry and exit to Riyadh,Mecca,Medina and Jeddah is limited.Some neighbourhoods in Mecca and Medina were already under full lockdown.
In other Gulf Arab states,lockdowns targeted neighbourhoods with large numbers of low-wage foreign labourers.
Kuwait’s health minister said authorities were considering sealing off some areas after Qatar,it was extending a lockdown on an industrial area and Oman closed off Muttrah.
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday sealed off Al Ras,an area famous for its gold and spice market and where many migrant workers reside.
Millions of migrant workers,mainly from Asian countries like Philippines,Nepal,India are among the large expatriate population in the six Gulf states,where confirmed infections have risen to above 4,700, with 36 deaths.
Bahrain’s health ministry reported 66 new cases, all in the industrial zone of Salmabad.