UAE, Oman Ban Citizens From Travelling to Iran as Coronavirus Spreads Across Middle East

The new virus took aim at a broadening swath of the globe Monday, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit the spread of an outbreak

Reuters
The Associated Press
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A policeman and pedestrians wear masks to help guard against the Coronavirus, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020
A policeman and pedestrians wear masks to help guard against the Coronavirus, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi
Reuters
The Associated Press

The new virus took aim at a broadening swath of the globe Monday, with officials in Europe and the Middle East scrambling to limit the spread of an outbreak that showed signs of stabilizing at its Chinese epicenter but posed new threats far beyond.

Governments around the Middle East placed travel restrictions on Iran, with the UAE and Oman outright banning citizens from travelling to Iran.

In Italy, authorities set up roadblocks, called off soccer matches and shuttered sites including the famed La Scala opera house. In Iran, a report of dozens of deaths in a single city emerged as infections were reported to have spread for the first time to Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Afghanistan. Across the world, stock markets and futures dipped.

Iraq announced its first case, an Iranian theology student in the holy city of Najaf, who had entered the country before the government banned the entry of non-Iraqis coming from Iran.

Kuwait detected the virus in three people among 700 who had been evacuated on Saturday from the Iranian city of Mashhad.

They were a 53-year-old Kuwaiti man, a 61-year-old Saudi man and a 21-year-old whose nationality was unclear, the health ministry said.

In neighbouring Bahrain, the health ministry said a Bahraini citizen who arrived from Iran had been diagnosed with the disease.

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew on Monday after sharp rises in new cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea. The virus has infected nearly 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 in China.

Qatar Airways said it would ask passengers arriving from Iran and South Korea to remain in home isolation or a quarantine facility for 14 days. Qatar has not recorded any coronavirus cases.

Kuwait Airways and Iraq Airways last week suspended flights to Iran while Saudi Arabia suspended travel to Iran.

Iraq has shut its Safwan border crossing with Kuwait to travellers and trade at Kuwait's request.

Iran's Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, said 12 people had died and up to 61 had been infected in Iran. Most infections were in the holy city of Qom.

The United Arab Emirates, a major air transit centre and Gulf tourism and business hub, has recorded 13 cases, the latest two are an Iranian tourist and his wife.

Afghanistan confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in the western province of Herat on Monday, declaring a state of emergency in a territory bordering Iran which itself reported a sharp rise in cases.

Afghanistan suspended all air and land movement to and from Iran over the weekend

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