Gulf countries increase virus-related restrictions after new cases

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar registered more than 2,000 coronavirus cases between the two of them on Monday alone.

al-monitor Residents hang their laundry off the railing on their balconies at their apartment building, to disinfect them under sunlight, Dubai, May 17, 2020. Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images.

May 20, 2020

Both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are increasing virus-related restrictions as the Gulf states continue to battle the coronavirus outbreak.

The Qatari authorities announced yesterday that all businesses must remain closed until the end of the month. The exceptions are supermarkets and pharmacies, Reuters reported.

Infections continue to increase in Qatar, and the country registered 1,364 new cases on Monday alone, which raised the total to 33,969, according to Reuters. Only Saudi Arabia has more confirmed coronavirus cases in the Gulf region. Qatar's confirmed cases were again higher on Wednesday with a total of 37,097.

The UAE also extended its nightly curfew by two hours on Monday after registering new cases. The curfew, during which nonessential movement is forbidden, will now be from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. as of Wednesday until further notice. The country registered 832 cases on Monday, bringing the total to 24,190, Reuters reported. The UAE's total number of cases as of Wednesday was 25,063.

One segment of Gulf countries' populations that has been particularly hard hit by the outbreak is foreign workers, many of whom live in cramped housing.

The city of Dubai has been easing its restrictions in recent days, allowing public parks and private beaches to reopen last week.

Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the Gulf region, also announced a round-the-clock lockdown last week during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

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