Health virus aviation UAE Iran,lead February 25 2020 - 5:15 PM

Gulf states cut Iran links as coronavirus cases rise ATTENTION - RECASTS with more measures, UPDATES infections /// Dubai, Feb 25, 2020 (AFP) - Gulf countries announced new measures Tuesday to cut links with Iran to prevent coronavirus spreading after the confirmation of 20 new cases, all of them people returning from the Islamic republic. The United Arab Emirates suspended all passenger and cargo flights to Iran after Gulf neighbours Kuwait and Bahrain announced the additional cases of COVID-19. Over the past two days, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have reported 29 cases of the novel coronavirus among people returning from pilgrimages to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak outside China. The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority "suspended all passenger flights and cargo to and from Iran starting today and for one week," a statement carried by the official WAM news agency said, adding that the ban could be extended. Bahrain's health ministry said 15 more people -- including six Saudi women -- had tested positive for the virus after returning to the kingdom from Iran via Dubai and Sharjah in the UAE. Shortly after, the Bahraini authorities said citizens were banned from travelling to Iran "until further notice". In neighbouring Kuwait, three new cases were recorded among Kuwaiti men who had been under quarantine in the emirate after returning from Iran. Oman, which on Monday reported its first cases of coronavirus, two Omani women who had returned from Iran, reported an additional two cases. Muscat was making arrangements to bring back its citizens from the Islamic republic, the foreign ministry said, a day after it suspended all flights to and from Iran. Oman also announced that it will suspend the import and export of goods from Iran from Wednesday. The three countries have large Shiite Muslim populations who frequently travel to Iran to visit holy shrines. The UAE has already announced 13 coronavirus cases, all foreigners, including an Iranian couple who had travelled from Iran. Kuwait has cancelled celebrations for national holidays on Tuesday and Wednesday and also scrapped all sports events to counter the spread of the disease. sy/oh-dm/sls/dr

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