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Coronavirus: Qatar makes face masks mandatory under threat of $55,000 fine

Move is compulsory for anyone who steps outside of their home from Sunday, with violators also facing prison sentences
Bars, restaurants, cinemas and mosques have been shut to contain the spread of the virus (AFP)

Qatar has made wearing a face mask compulsory for everyone who steps outside their home, with violators facing jail time and fines of up to $55,000.

The move comes as the number of reported novel coronavirus cases in the Gulf state jumped by another 1,733 on Thursday, a single-day record for the country.

Cabinet mandated the wearing of face masks "upon leaving the house for any reason" except when "alone while driving a vehicle", the Qatar News Agency reported Thursday.

The decision on Wednesday is effective from Sunday "until further notice", with penalties of up to three years in jail and fines of up to 200,000 riyals ($55,000), it added.

Qatar, with a population of 2.75 million people, has seen a relatively high number of coronavirus cases, with more than 28,000 people testing positive.

But its death rate remains low, with just 14 fatalities - an outcome experts say is down to a young population and mandatory health checks for its vast foreign workforce.

Bars, restaurants, cinemas and mosques have been shut to contain the spread of the virus.

But construction projects, including World Cup 2022 stadiums, have continued with new rules to encourage social distancing.

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