Saudi extends curfew hours in three areas

Saudi Arabia has brought forward its nightly curfew by four hours in three areas to combat the coronavirus epidemic, state news agency SPA said.

From Friday, the curfew will begin at 3pm instead of 7pm in the city of Dammam and the governorates of Taif and Qatif, SPA said, quoting a senior interior ministry official. The curfew is lifted at 6am.

Saudi Arabia has recorded 1,885 infections and 21 deaths, the UAE has reported 1,024 cases and eight deaths, while there were 949 cases in Qatar with three deaths. Kuwait recorded 417 cases and Oman 252 cases and one death.

A United Nations rights official yesterday voiced concern over prisoners after reports of unrest in facilities prompted by worries over the coronavirus outbreak.

“As you see in Iran and some other countries, we are seeing riots, prisoners who are afraid, who are distressed at the big loss of contact from family members and so on. So there are many issues surrounding this,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a virtual briefing in Geneva.

“We are horrified at the death of a juvenile offender after he was reportedly badly beaten by security officers,” Colville added.

New York state has recorded more than 500 deaths in a single day, bringing the statewide total to nearly 3,000, or about the same number killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

New York City has mere days to prepare for the worst of the novel coronavirus onslaught, the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio said. He pleaded for federal government help to end a shortage of medical staff and ventilators.

Britain said it was launching the biggest clinical trial of possible treatments for coronavirus in the world but a leading health official cautioned that the results were likely a few months away.

Almost 1,000 patients from 132 hospitals had been recruited in 15 days and thousands more were expected to join in the coming weeks, the health department said.

The trial is testing medicines more commonly used to treat malaria and HIV, and is designed so that when further medicines are identified, they can be added to the study within days.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said the next round of clinical trials should include new medicines, including those that might be in development for other diseases and might “have a role to play”.

The World Health Organisation said that medical masks should be prioritised for health workers, but it opened the door to greater public use of homemade masks or other mouth coverings as a way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

A senior WHO official said there was some possibility of airborne transmission of the virus.

“We must preserve medical surgical respirator masks for our frontline workers. But the idea of using respiratory coverings or mouth coverings to prevent coughing or sneezing projecting disease into the environment and towards others ... that in itself is not a bad idea,” Dr Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a news conference.




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