By Gavin Gibbon
Further two cases announced in sultanate taking Middle East takes total number to over 150
Oman’s Khasab port has suspended the import and export of goods to and from Iran from Wednesday as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Its operator Marafi announced the suspension on Twitter. The port is situated closest to Iran, which is battling the deadliest outbreak of the virus outside of China.
It comes as the sultanate has confirmed a further two cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of people diagnosed to four.
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.
Kuwait, which has 11 cases confirmed, has also taken the decision to “stop receiving parcels from those countries hit by the coronavirus”, according to the country’s Minister of State for Service Affairs, Mubarak Al-Harees.
He added that seaport authorities had also been directed not to receive any ships and cruises coming from Iran, Iraq and other countries where the virus has broken out.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Tuesday suspended all flights to and from Singapore and Japan following a recommendation from the Ministry of Health.
According to a report on the Kuwait News Agency, all non-Kuwaitis who visited Singapore or Japan over the past two weeks “will not be allowed to enter the country”, even if they have valid visas, while Kuwaitis will be placed in quarantine at special health facilities.
It added that no entry visas will be issued for those coming from the two countries and transit passengers are also banned.
So far, there are about 140 confirmed cases in the Middle East, all of them linked to Iran.
The decision to halt all Iran flights from the UAE, home to Emirates airline, Air Arabia and Flydubai, which together operated about 40 weekly routes to Iranian cities, came into effect Tuesday until further notice. Shares of Sharjah-based Air Arabia dropped as much as 4.7 percent on Tuesday.
Turkey had its first major scare on Tuesday, when a Turkish Airlines flight carrying citizens back from Tehran diverted to Ankara on fears that some passengers were infected.
The Turkish Airlines flight from Tehran to Istanbul made an unscheduled landing in Ankara on fears some passengers may have contracted the virus, according to state-run Anadolu Agency. It said all 132 passengers on board would be quarantined for 14 days at a hospital emptied of other patients and dedicated for the purpose.
Shares of the carrier, which had earlier cancelled all flights to Iran until March 10 except Tehran, fell as much as 2.9%. Turkish Airlines operates five flights a day to Tehran, and five flights from Tehran to Istanbul.
Turkey’s discount carrier Pegasus also suspended all flights to and from Tehran until March 11.