GCC cases surge but death rate remains low
▶ Large-scale testing gives more realistic picture of the Gulf’s outbreak
The number of coronavirus cases has surged alarmingly across the GCC countries following a widespread easing of stay-at-home measures.
Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain are now among the top 10 countries with the most cases per million people worldwide, including those now recovered.
But fatalities from the disease caused by the virus are much lower in the GCC countries compared with other nations. Kuwait has the highest fatality rate in the GCC with 89 deaths per million people, placing it 37th in the world. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had 60 and 59 deaths per million respectively, placing them in 50th and 51st position globally.
In terms of active cases, Saudi Arabia has the 12th-highest number of active cases, at 60,131. In all, the kingdom has recorded 223,327 cases, including 3,183 new cases on Thursday. More than 2,000 people have died from the disease in the kingdom.
Gulf nations also have a higher testing rate than some other countries, leading to a more realistic picture of their number of infection cases.
Oman is now 29th in the world in terms of active cases – with 18,468 – after experiencing what the sultanate’s health minister termed a “scary” surge in cases.
Oman introduced larger fines for not wearing a mask in public, and shut down some businesses for breaking the rules on Thursday.
Health Minister Ahmed Al Saidi blamed secret gatherings such as weddings and birthdays for the surge in cases over the last three weeks. On Wednesday the nation of 4.7 million people reached 50,000 cases.
Bahrain has 30,931 cases with 102 deaths. Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman ordered that medical workers fighting the epidemic be exempt from fines if they have not been able to renew their documents since February.
Bahrain Medical Society president, Dr Ghada Al Qassim, praised the move, saying it confirmed Prince Khalifa’s constant care and support for doctors.
Qatar topped the international list of cases per million people, with more than 102,110 cases and 142 deaths.
“Measures taken to tackle Covid-19 in Qatar have succeeded in flattening the curve and limiting the spread of the virus,” the Ministry of Public Health said.
“We are seeing a rise in the number of deaths in recent weeks and this is due to the people who were infected at the height of the virus several weeks ago.”
Qatar has continued to reopen segments of its economy in recent weeks, subject to strict social-distancing measures, while the average daily number of new cases has begun to fall.
In the past seven days an average of 748 new daily cases were reported as against 958 the week before.
Kuwait’s numbers continue to climb, with the country reporting 833 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 52,840, or 12,370 per million people.
Kuwait, like Oman is now experiencing an increase outside of the immigrant population, with 536 of the new cases being among the nationals.
Health ministry spokesman Dr Abdullah Al Sanad said everyone must abide by health rules. Social distancing, he said, was the only way to keep the virus at bay.
People ride jet-skis at Katara Beach in Doha. Qatar topped the global list of Covid-19 cases per million people AFP