Qatar and Bahrain record increase in coronavirus cases, Kuwait suspends flights
DUBAI: On Wednesday, Qatar recorded 238 more cases of coronavirus among people under quarantine in a residential compound, the latest Gulf state to announce new cases in a regional outbreak that provoked Kuwait to cancel all commercial passenger flights.
Bahrain reported earlier 77 new infections among people evacuated from Iran by plane which has emerged as an epicenter for the Middle East virus.
Two G20 economics meetings due to take place in Saudi Arabia have been postponed.
Kuwait, which has 72 reported cases of coronavirus, announced that it would suspend all commercial passenger flights beginning on Friday, and declared a public holiday from 12 March to 26 March, with the exception of essential services providers.
It prohibited people from going to restaurants and cafes and requested them to avoid holding private and public gatherings of Kuwait’s popular diwaniya, state news agency KUNA reported.
All the Gulf Arab states had infections reported but no deaths.
Saudi Arabia, which reported 21 cases of the disease and locked off the oil-producing Qatif area, said it was closing cinemas until further notice on Wednesday, state news agency SPA reported.
The spike in Qatar cases, which took the country’s number to 262, was among expatriates who had been quarantined within one compound after three locals had been diagnosed with the virus on Sunday, the health ministry said.
In the first repatriation flight from Iran, Bahrain’s new infections were among 165 individuals flew home on Tuesday.
A second flight chartered by the Government is scheduled for Thursday.
A meeting of the Community of 20 major economies in Saudi Arabia’s agriculture and water ministers, scheduled from March 17 to March 19, was postponed until further notice due to concerns about viruses, organizers said in an email viewed by Reuters.
Next year, the Kingdom holds the presidency of the G20 and hosts the November annual summit.