COVID-19: Worrying rise in the number of cases in GCC

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The COVID-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the world has claimed almost 582,000 lives and infected 13.5 million people globally. This includes over 910,000 infections and more than 20,000 fatalities in the Middle East.

With about 542,000 cases, the six Gulf states now account for 53.7% of all COVID-19 infections confirmed in the Middle East.

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GCC countries, with their sophisticated market economies, free movement of people, world-class airlines and airports, and their exposure to globalisation, were always going to be more susceptible to such pandemics than other, less developed economies in the region. However, with the gradual easing of restrictions, Gulf states are also seeing a worrying spike in coronavirus cases.

Saudi Arabia, with almost 238,000 cases and 2,300 deaths is the worst affected in the Gulf. Qatar, with a tiny population, has been disproportionately hit with almost 105,000 cases but has suffered only 150 deaths. Out of nowhere, Oman finds itself in third place on the GCC list of COVID-19 cases, with almost 60,000 infected and 273 dead. Kuwait is next with 56,200 cases and 400 deaths. The UAE with about 55,600 cases has seen 335 fatalities while Bahrain has recorded 34,100 cases and 111 deaths.

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One positive to take from these statistics is that the number of deaths per million cases in the Gulf is very low, especially in the UAE. This can be attributed to the structured response the GCC has come up with to combat the virus and the quality of the medical care dispensed to all patients, regardless of their nationality or financial status. In fact, most expats who contracted the virus in the GCC would not have got the same quality of medical care in their home countries.

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At 93, Kuwait has seen the highest deaths per million cases of COVID-19 in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia has recorded 66 deaths per million infections while the figure for Bahrain is 65. Both Qatar and Oman have seen 53 deaths per million cases. The UAE has the fewest number of deaths per million infections – just 34.

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