A technician hangs N95 face masks to be sterilized with UVC light, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

Daily coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia have climbed above 1,000 for the first time since August, while daily infections in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) haven crossed the 2,500-level.

Iran PressMiddle East: Authorities in the two Gulf Arab states did not break down the cases by COVID-19 variant. Both countries confirmed their first known case of the Omicron variant in early December.

Saudi Arabia, the largest Gulf state with a population of around 30 million, on Sunday, January 1, registered 1,024 new coronavirus infections and one death. Daily cases had fallen below 100 in September.

Neighbouring UAE, a tourism and commercial hub now marking its peak tourism season and hosting a world fair, announced 2,600 new coronavirus cases and three deaths.

Daily infections in the UAE rose above 2,000 on December 29, after having fallen below 100 in October.

The UAE said on Saturday, January 1, it would ban non-vaccinated citizens from traveling abroad from Jan. 10 and that fully vaccinated citizens would also require a booster shot to be eligible to travel.

The latest daily COVID figures are still below a peak of nearly 4,000 hit in the UAE last January when visitors flocked to the country, and a record of over 4,700 in Saudi Arabia in June 2020, according to Reuters data.

Research by South African scientists suggests that Omicron could displace the Delta variant of the coronavirus because infection with the new variant boosts immunity to the older one.

“The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals,” the authors said.


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