Bahrain restricts access for unvaccinated as COVID-19 cases spike

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DUBAI – Bahrain said on Thursday it would restrict access to most public venues to immunized people only after coronavirus cases hit a record high in the Gulf state which has seen an influx of visitors from Saudi Arabia after a causeway reopened this week.

Health Ministry Undersecretary Waleed Al Manea attributed the spike to large gatherings at home during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and Eid holidays as well as increased testing.

As of May 21, only people aged above 18 who have completed 14 days since their second vaccine dose or who have recovered from the virus will be allowed at commercial centers, with the exception of supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and hospitals.

The restrictions, which apply to shopping malls, restaurants, salons and cinemas as well as offices providing government services, will last until June 3.

The island nation of 1.7 million people on Wednesday registered 2,354 new COVID-19 infections and eight deaths to bring its total to 206,878 cases with 773 deaths. On May 15, authorities had recorded around 1,300 infections.

“We urge society to get vaccinated and to comply with precautionary measures for the sake of Bahrain,” Manea said in remarks posted on the ministry’s Twitter account.

Around 48 percent of the eligible population has completed 14 days since their second vaccine shot, said a member of the state coronavirus committee, Dr. Manaf Al Qahtani, adding this was equivalent to around 37 percent of the total population.

Qahtani said only between 1 percent to 2 percent of this category caught the virus but that the majority had mild symptoms.

Of the eligible population, 75 percent have received a first dose from among the four vaccines on offer.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates this week said they would offer a booster shot for China’s Sinopharm vaccine.

Saudi Arabia reopened its borders on May 17, including a highway linking the Kingdom with Bahrain.

Reuters

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