Dubai enters lockdown to tackle coronavirus

Dubai imposed a two-week lockdown Saturday night and Saudi Arabia sealed off parts of the Red Sea city of Jeddah as Gulf states tightened measures in big cities to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Dubai had been under an overnight curfew along with the rest of United Arab Emirates since March 26 but its Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management said the lockdown would now run around the clock for two weeks, state news agency WAM said.

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In neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the authorities announced a lockdown and a partial curfew in seven neighbourhoods of Jeddah also starting on Saturday as part of measures to contain the outbreak, the interior ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is the country worst hit by the pandemic in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) group of Arab oil monarchies. It had reported 2,179 cases of confirmed infections up until Saturday and 29 deaths.

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In Dubai, mobility will be restricted and legal action taken against violators although supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as food and drug delivery services, would continue to operate as normal, WAM said.

People can only leave their homes except for essential purposes and just one family member is permitted to go out at any one time. People working in vital sectors, or those exempted from the restrictions, will not be affected.

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Dubai’s metro and tram service will be suspended for two weeks and free bus transportation and a 50% discount on taxi rides will be offered during the lockdown.

The emirate, which had previously sealed of the Al Ras area where there is a large migrant population, will conduct extensive medical tests across densely populated areas.

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