Gulf states enforce further travel restrictions in coronavirus battle

Gulf states enforce further travel restrictions in coronavirus battle
3 min read
09 March, 2020
Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia are other countries are restricting travel due to coronavirus fears.
Coronavirus has led travel restrictions in Gulf countries [Getty]
Saudi Arabia has banned flights from the UAE over coronavirus fears, as the region unleashes a series of on radical measures to curb the spread of the disease.

Qatar announced on Monday it has suspended flights to 14 countries, including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria as part of the efforts to tackle corona.

The UAE's Etihad and Emirates airlines have suspended flights between to Saudi Arabia over coronavirus fears after Riyadh ordered a ban on flights between the two countries.

"Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has suspended temporarily all flights between Abu Dhabi and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in response to a directive from the General Authority for Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus," the airline said in a statement, according to Gulf News.

"In addition to the flight suspensions to and from the UAE, Saudi Arabia has also banned Saudi nationals and Saudi residents from travelling to countries including the UAE and on passengers travelling from or transiting through Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Egypt and Korea."

Bahrain carrier Gulf Air also announced it was suspending flights to Saudi Arabia due to restrictions.

Saudi Arabia has barred entry for visitors from nine countries in to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"The kingdom decided to temporarily suspend the travel of citizens and residents to Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq as well as suspend entry to those coming from those countries," the ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement. 

"It is forbidden to enter Saudi Arabia for those who were present in these countries within 14 days of reaching Saudi Arabia's border crossing points."

Riyadh also announced it would fine travellers 500,000 rials ($133,000) for giving false information about their health when entering the country, after more than 100 citizens confessed to recently being in Iran - one of the global epicentres for the virus.

Oman also suspended chartered flights from Egypt for the following month.

The number of cases of coronavirus in the Gulf rose to over 200 on Monday, despite sweeping measures to control its spread.

Qatar announced on Monday it was suspending schools as the number of cases rose to 15.

Saudi Arabia has 11 cases after discovering four more cases.

The country's Shia-heartland, Qatif, in Eastern Province was sealed off on Sunday due to most cases being discovered there.

The UAE announced on Monday that it has discovered 15 new cases of the virus bringing the total number to 59. Oman has 14 confirmed cases, Kuwait 64, and Bahrain 49. 

Iran, one of the global epicentres for the virus, has seen  a number of high-profile officials die from the virus - which is particularly dangerous to the eldery - reflecting the country's aging government.

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