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3 Gulf Countries and Iraq Report 1st Coronavirus Cases

3 Gulf Countries and Iraq Report 1st Coronavirus Cases

Monday, 24 February, 2020 - 08:30
Passengers wearing masks, amid the new coronavirus outbreak, are checked by Iraqi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at Basra airport, in Basra, Iraq February 1, 2020. (Reuters)

Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Iraq on Monday recorded their first new coronavirus cases, all involving people who had visited Iran, which has reported 61 cases of the disease, state media said.

Kuwait detected the virus in three people among 700 who had been evacuated on Saturday from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, state news agency KUNA said.

The health ministry identified them as a 53-year-old Kuwaiti man, a 61-year-old Saudi man and a 21-year-old whose nationality was unclear. It said the Kuwaiti and Saudi had been asymptomatic while the third person showed initial symptoms.

Concerned authorities in the country and the Ministry of Health took necessary precautionary measures in accordance with scientific and standard recommendations and guidelines accepted by the World Health Organization, carrying out surveys to detect COVID-19 using itemized reagents, the ministry added.

The Saudi health ministry said it was coordinating with Kuwait authorities regarding the Saudi national, who would continue to receive treatment in Kuwait.

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

The patient was transferred to the Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo Medical Center for immediate testing, treatment and isolation under the supervision of a specialized medical team, reported the Bahrain news agency (BNA).

The health ministry undertook further necessary medical measures to monitor all individuals who had been in contact with the patient and referred them to isolation accordingly.

The ministry said it is taking further preventive measures to ensure the virus is contained, including monitoring the health of individuals arriving from infected countries for a period of 14 days, in line with international standards set by the WHO.

In Oman, Health Ministry on Monday reported the first two cases of coronavirus infections.

The two Omani women diagnosed with the disease had visited Iran, it said. They are in stable condition, it added.

Oman’s civil aviation authority halted all flights between the sultanate and Iran, it said.

In Iraq, local health officials in the city of Najaf detected the first coronavirus case in the country, an Iranian theology student, the health ministry said on Monday.

The patient had entered Iraq before the government shut border crossings and banned the entry of any non-Iraqis coming from Iran, the ministry said in a statement.

"It has become clear to the ministry that the results of lab tests conducted on a theology student, an Iranian citizen, who had entered the country before ... the decision to stop travel have revealed he is ill with the coronavirus," it said.

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

Kuwait Airways and Iraq Airways had last week suspended all flights to Iran while Saudi Arabia suspended travel by citizens and expatriates to Iran.

Iraq has shut its Safwan border crossing with Kuwait to travelers and trade at Kuwait's request, the local mayor told Reuters on Monday without providing a reason.

Iran has confirmed a total of 43 cases with a death toll of eight. Most of the infections have been in the city of Qom.

The United Arab Emirates has recorded 13 cases, the latest two detected in an Iranian tourist and his wife.

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