February 24, 2020
DUBAI (Reuters) – Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq on Monday recorded their first new coronavirus cases, all people who had been in Iran, which raised its toll from the disease to 12 dead and 61 infected.
Iraq announced its first case, an Iranian theology student in the holy city of Najaf, who had entered the country before the government banned the entry of non-Iraqis coming from Iran.
Kuwait detected the virus in three people among 700 who had been evacuated on Saturday from the Iranian city of Mashhad.
They were a 53-year-old Kuwaiti man, a 61-year-old Saudi man and a 21-year-old whose nationality was unclear, the health ministry said.
In neighboring Bahrain, the health ministry said a Bahraini citizen who arrived from Iran had been diagnosed with the disease.
Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew on Monday after sharp rises in new cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea. The virus has infected nearly 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 in China.
Qatar Airways said it would ask passengers arriving from Iran and South Korea to remain in home isolation or a quarantine facility for 14 days. Qatar has not recorded any coronavirus cases.
Kuwait Airways and Iraq Airways last week suspended flights to Iran while Saudi Arabia suspended travel to Iran.
Iraq has shut its Safwan border crossing with Kuwait to travelers and trade at Kuwait’s request.
Iran’s Deputy Health Minister, Iraj Harirchi, said 12 people had died and up to 61 had been infected in Iran. Most infections were in the holy city of Qom.
The United Arab Emirates, a major air transit center and Gulf tourism and business hub, has recorded 13 cases, the latest two are an Iranian tourist and his wife.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, Nayera Abdallah and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Dubai, Aref Mohammed in Basra and ahmed Aboulenein in Baghdad; Editing by Ghaida Ghantous and Giles Elgood)