Kuwait's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) suspended all flights to and from South Korea, Thailand, Italy, and Iraq as of Monday, February 24, due to the ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). It said that all non-Kuwaiti nationals having visited these countries in the preceding two weeks will be denied entry to Kuwait, and that authorities will cease issuing entry visas for those coming from these countries until further notice. Meanwhile, all Kuwaiti nationals having traveled in these countries in the preceding 14 days will be quarantined at designated health facilities upon arrival to Kuwait. The DCGA also announced that all flights to Kuwait will not be allowed to accept passengers transiting in Iraq.
The Kuwait Ports Authority also announced on Monday that it is banning entry of all vessels from Iraq to the ports of Shuaiba, Shuwaikh, and Doha until further notice. Government officials announced the suspension of all sports activities nationwide for two weeks as of Monday, amid COVID-19 concerns.
The Ministry of Health confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in Kuwait as of Monday; all individuals who were evacuated from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad on Monday. They were transported directly to a designated hospital and are receiving treatment in quarantine. A government health official said on Monday that all citizens arriving from Tehran or Qom (Iran) are subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days - in addition to pre-existing quarantine orders for travelers from China or Hong Kong. Kuwait Airways suspended flights to Iran on Friday, February 21, until further notice. Further spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals traveling to or from Kuwait are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home government.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.
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