GCC cases surge but death rate re­mains low

▶ Large-scale test­ing gives more re­al­is­tic pic­ture of the Gulf’s out­break

The National - News - - NEWS | CORONAVIRU­S - THE NA­TIONAL

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

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