Egypt bars Qataris over coronavirus fears

Cairo said it was responding to actions taken by Doha after it imposed a temporary restriction on visitors from Egypt.

Qatar on Sunday barred entry of travellers from Egypt because of the virus' spread [File: AP]
Qatar on Sunday barred entry of travellers from Egypt because of the virus' spread [File: AP]

The Egyptian government on Wednesday barred Qataris from the country, including those who have valid residency, amid fears about the coronavirus.

Qatar and Egypt are on opposite sides of a regional rift, and Cairo said it was responding to a similar move taken by the Gulf state earlier this week.

“In light of what Qatar has decided regarding prohibiting entry for travellers holding Egyptian nationality … as part of the precautionary measures to face the coronavirus, [it was] decided to implement the principle of reciprocity,” the cabinet said, adding the measure would be in place until further notice.

Qatar on Sunday imposed temporary restrictions on entry to visitors from Egypt, except Qatari citizens, because of the virus’ spread. The ban did not specifically mention Egyptian nationals.

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Qatar‘s government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

13 demands

Egypt, alongside three Gulf countries, severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting armed groups in the worst crisis among Arab states in years. Doha denies the accusations.

The quartet had set 13 demands for lifting the blockade, including the closing down of Al Jazeera Media Network, shuttering a Turkish military base, and reducing ties with Iran. Qatar rejected the demands. 

Efforts to resolve the crisis after discussions began in October were unsuccessful and suspended at the start of January.

While citizens from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain were recalled to their home countries over the rift, Egyptians – who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar – have remained and comprise a sizeable portion of the small but wealthy country’s workforce.

Qatar has so far confirmed eight cases of coronavirus, while Egypt has two.

Across the world, more than 3,000 people have died from the fast-spreading virus that appears to have originated in China in December.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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