Middle East, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Measures tighten in Kuwait, Iraq to stem virus spread

Kuwaiti authorities shut their land, seaports for non-citizens, Kurdish authorities suspend receiving tourists

Muhammad Abdul Ghaffar and Ali Jawad   | 23.02.2021
Measures tighten in Kuwait, Iraq to stem virus spread


The authorities in Kuwait and Iraq have announced new restrictions to cope with the rising number of coronavirus cases.

In Kuwait, the Council of Ministers in a tweet said it decided to close the country's land and sea border crossings as of Wednesday until March 20 and to bar entry of non-Kuwaitis.

According to the same decision, citizens abroad are allowed to return to their homeland via land and seaports including their first-degree relatives and companions from the domestic workers. Also, shipping operations and workers are exempted in the border region between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

On Saturday, the Kuwaiti government extended the decision to prevent non-Kuwaitis from entering the country by air until further notice, as part of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The new measures came after the escalation in the number of infections and fatalities during February as authorities recorded 184,989 COVID-19 cases, including 1,049 deaths as of Monday evening.

In a related development, Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) which is seated in Erbil, decided to prevent the entry of tourist groups to the region to mitigate the rising infections.

"Official government delegations were excluded from the decision," the KRG's spokesman Jotyar Adel told reporters following a meeting of the Supreme Committee to Combat Coronavirus in Erbil.

He explained that a meeting will be held in cooperation with the ministries of interior, education, and culture to come up with a plan to contain the sudden rise in the number of cases.

As of Monday evening, the death toll from COVID-19 in the Kurdish region in northern Iraq had reached 107,933, including 3,508 deaths, according to the regional Health Ministry.

Iraq has so far recorded 671,801 infections, including 13,295 fatalities, according to the country's Health Ministry.

* Writing by Mahmoud Barakat in Ankara.

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