UAE warns on workers’ repatriation

Middle East Desk Report

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia extended a nationwide curfew until further notice due to the coronavirus, the interior ministry said on Sunday, after the kingdom reported more than 300 new infections on each of the last five days.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates warned of possible action against countries refusing to allow migrant workers to be repatriated. Saudi Arabia placed its capital Riyadh and other big cities under a 24-hour curfew last week, locking down much of the population. Residents are allowed to leave their houses only for essential needs inside their residential area. Elsewhere, the curfew which began on March 23 runs from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. The country has recorded 4,462 infections with 59 deaths, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states where the total surpassed 14,000 with 96 deaths.
Saudi Arabia has halted international flights, suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage, and closed most public places.
Other Gulf Arab states have taken similar precautions and seen the virus spread among low-wage foreign workers, many living in overcrowded accommodation. Millions of migrant labourers, mainly from Asian countries, including Nepal, India and the Philippines, are among the region’s large expatriate population.
Bahrain said 45 of 47 new cases reported on Sunday were foreign workers.
The United Arab Emirates, the region’s tourism and business hub, has the second highest regional load at 3,736 cases and 20 deaths.
It warned it would review labour ties with countries refusing to take back citizens, including those who lost their jobs or were put on leave, and said it was considering strict quotas for work visas issued to nationals of those states.