June 25, 2020 / 8:14 AM / 8 days ago

Gulf coronavirus infections surpass 400,000, Reuters tally shows

FILE PHOTO: A Saudi family wearing protective face masks walk on Tahlia Street as nightlife kicks off, after the government loosened lockdown restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 21, 2020. Picture taken June 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - The number of novel coronavirus cases in the six Gulf Arab states has doubled in a month to more than 400,000, as the region’s two biggest economies this week fully lifted curfews imposed to combat the infection.

As of Thursday, authorities across the energy-producing region had reported a total of 410,300 infections with 2,395 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. It passed the 200,000 mark on May 27.

The United Arab Emirates announced late on Wednesday the lifting of a nightly curfew in place since mid-March as the daily number of infections fell from a peak of some 900 in late May to average between 300-400 in recent weeks.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has the highest regional count at more than 170,600 infections and more than 1,400 deaths as of Thursday, ended its three-month curfew on Sunday.

Kuwait’s cabinet agreed on Thursday to ease the country’s curfew by one hour, to run from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am from Tuesday. Qatar, Oman and Bahrain did not impose curfews.

The easing of restrictions has varied across the Gulf region with the UAE and Saudi Arabia taking the lead in reopening commercial businesses, including dine-in restaurants and malls.

Dubai, whose economy is reliant on tourism and retail, said on Sunday it would let foreign visitors enter the emirate from July 7. The UAE, which includes Dubai, has not yet announced a similar move on a federal level.

Qatar, which has the second highest regional infection count, has said it would permit resumption of flights from low-risk countries on July 1 as well as the reopening of shopping malls and markets with limited capacity.

Other Gulf states still have bans on foreign visitors.

Writing by Ghaida Ghantous, Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens

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