Kuwait shuts down for two weeks over coronavirus fears

All flights cancelled, employees to stay home, and no public gatherings as ordered by the Kuwaiti government.

Kuwait will suspend all commercial flights leaving and arriving at Kuwait City International Airport starting on Friday to halt the spread of the coronavirus, while effectively shutting the Gulf state down for two weeks.

The government also gave employees a two-week holiday starting on Thursday until March 26.

“This decision does not include cargo aircraft and planes carrying Kuwaitis [evacuated from abroad],” a government spokesman said of the flight ban. “Gatherings in markets, cafes and health clubs will also be prohibited.”


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The steps are the latest in a series of precautionary measures in the Gulf country that has recorded 72 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Elsewhere in the region, the total number of coronavirus infections in Qatar surged to 262 after the health ministry reported 238 new cases in one day.

The health ministry said the new cases had been found in quarantine and not mixing with the public.

Bahrain earlier announced 77 new infections among citizens evacuated by plane from Iran, which has emerged as an epicentre for the virus in the Middle East. 

A semiofficial news agency reported on Wednesday that Iran’s senior vice president and two other cabinet members had contracted the new coronavirus as the death toll in the Islamic Republic from the outbreak rose by 62 to 354.

The report by the Fars News Agency, believed to be close to Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, comes as President Hassan Rouhani took control of the country’s much-criticised response to the virus.

Authorities announced there were some 9,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across Iran, a nation with one of the highest numbers in the world.


The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the global outbreak a pandemic, with its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calling on countries to scale up their “emergency response mechanism” and “communicate with your people about the risks & how they can protect themselves”. 

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