The United Arab Emirates has imposed overnight curfews to allow for nationwide disinfection to combat the coronavirus, as cases in the Gulf region have increased to more than 2,600.
Authorities said restrictions on movement of traffic and people in the UAE will begin overnight from Thursday to Sunday and will last from 8 p.m. (16:00 GMT) at 6 a.m.
Only essential services workers could get out and violators will face fines, a security forces spokesman said at a press conference on Thursday. Public transport, including trams and metro services, will be suspended, while private cars, taxis and delivery vehicles may operate outside of these hours, according to the official.
On Wednesday, Dubai ordered the private sector to implement remote work for the majority of staff, but exempted a wide spectrum of companies. The next day, the UAE government ordered all federal ministries and establishments and the private sector to limit the number of staff in the offices to 30 percent, exempting sectors that provide what the government considers essential services.
The latest measures come as the country slowly followed other Gulf states by suspending passenger flights and closing public places like restaurants and shopping malls.
On Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia exceeded 1,000 with 112 new infections reported, most of them in the capital, Riyadh, and in the holy city of Mecca.
They also reported a third death from the virus, a Medina resident who had suffered from chronic illnesses.
Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar also saw more cases, bringing the total in the six Gulf states to more than 2,600, with nine deaths.
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Among the countries, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken the most drastic measures, including the imposition of partial curfews at the national level and the suspension of work in most public and private sector establishments.
Kuwait on Thursday banned all taxis, ordered the state supply company to cover any shortages of basic foods, and said it would pay one month's salary to all Kuwaiti students abroad.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees detained for non-violent immigration and residence offenses as part of efforts to stem the spread of the disease, the state-backed Human Rights Commission said Thursday. Bahrain and Kuwait have also announced the release of prisoners.
The island nation of Bahrain has continued to evacuate several hundred Bahraini pilgrims stranded in Iran, which is an epicenter of the disease in the region, with more than 29,000 reported cases and 2,400 deaths.
A second repatriation flight of around 60 Bahrainis arrived Thursday night from the Iranian Shiite holy city of Mashhad, operated by Iranian airline Kish, the Reuters news agency, families and a Bahraini official told Reuters.
Bahrain repatriated 165 people earlier this month, but several subsequent scheduled flights were canceled. At least 85 of the first evacuees tested positive for the virus.
In Qatar, the government crisis committee ordered the closure of all non-vital stores, cafes and entertainment venues, and restricted the work hours of all other stores from 6 a.m. at 7 p.m.
Pharmacies, supermarkets and delivery services are excluded from these restrictions, the committee said at a press conference on Saturday.
Qatar registered 12 new cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing its total to 549.