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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia passes 100,000 Covid-19 cases

Total reached following a rise in new infections over the past 10 days, ministry of health says
Saudi Arabia's numbers are the highest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (Reuters)

The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 100,000 on Sunday following a rise in new infections over the past ten days.

The Saudi ministry of health reported 3,045 new cases on Sunday, taking the total to 101,914, with 712 deaths. 

The number of new daily cases exceeded 3,000 for the first time on Saturday.

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The country of 30 million people recorded its first Covid-19 infection on 2 March, Reuters reported.

Health authorities said in April the virus could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom topped 50,000 cases on 16 May.

Saudi Arabia's numbers are the highest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which have recorded 272,625 cases and 1,406 deaths.

Coronavirus infections in the energy producing region had initially been linked to travel. 

However, despite taking early measures to combat the virus, Gulf states have seen a spread among low-income migrant workers living in cramped quarters, prompting authorities to ramp up testing.

Eid fears

Last week, a senior Saudi doctor warned that the number of coronavirus patients in critical condition is “very disturbing”, after the kingdom reported nearly 1,300 cases are on ventilators. 

Nezar Bahabri, a doctor of internal medicine and infectious diseases, told Saudi channel al-Resalah on 3 June that the number of critical care patients has been “unprecedented” since the start of the outbreak in early March.

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“I used to reassure people that the total number of cases is not as important as the number of cases admitted to intensive care unit,” he said.

“But God knows what happened a couple of days before Eid,” he said, referring to the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, an occasion where Muslims visit their relatives to extend feast greetings. 

Bahabri said that it is likely, though not certain, that the increase in serious cases had occurred due to family visits to elderly relatives at the end of Ramadan. 

His assessment is based on the assumption that the illnesses started about one week before Eid. 

“Today, we are witnessing the consequences of what happened before Eid. It is not related to the easing of the lockdown after Eid," he said.

Saudi Arabia began relaxing lockdown measures starting last month after a full curfew imposed during the Eid holiday from 24 May. 

It said restrictions would be lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending, with the exception of the holy city of Mecca, from 21 June.

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