On Tuesday, March 17, Bahraini authorities announced several new restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All passengers arriving into Bahrain must declare to the airline and to the airport authorities if their point of departure was from any of the following countries: China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Iraq, Japan and Italy. All those arriving from abroad will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Further, the government suspended visas on-arrival across the Kingdom's entry points until further notice, effective Wednesday, March 18, at 03:00 (local time). Travelers must obtain a visa in advance, either online or from an embassy.
Gulf Air is set to operate just 13 of its 49 destinations on reduced service, including London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Dubai.
Domestically, gatherings of over 20 people have been banned and restaurants are now required to offer takeout and delivery services exclusively. Businesses closures were also announced, including gyms and cinemas, though retail and grocery stores remain open given that social distancing recommendations are implemented. The government also advised nationals and resident to avoid all but essential travel.
As of March 18, there are 242 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bahrain, including one death. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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 March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak as pandemic.
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.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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