Authorities in Qatar have temporarily banned all arrivals from Egypt, except Qatari citizens, over fears of the spread of deadly coronavirus.
“As a public health measure, the State of Qatar has imposed a temporary entrance restriction to its territories on all those who are coming from Egypt through intermediate points,” the Government Communications Office of Qatar said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera on Sunday.
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“The measure is temporary due to the spread of COVID-19.”
Egypt’s health ministry reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on February 14, saying the infected person was a foreign national. On February 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said he had been discharged from the hospital.
No further reports of infection have been released from Egyptian authorities.
Egypt’s health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told Ahram Online on Sunday it “denies once again the detection of any diagnosed or suspected cases of the coronavirus across all governorates”.
Megahed’s comments came after news reports said two suspected coronavirus victims were transferred to a hospital in northern Egypt to be quarantined.
Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed on Saturday told TV channel MBC Masr that pandemics “cannot be entirely prevented … [but] their spread can be limited”.
She added there is “a high probability we will get the coronavirus”.
On Friday, the Egyptian cabinet denied rumours that authorities discovered large numbers of new coronavirus cases.
In a statement, it highlighted its “complete transparency” in dealing with suspected coronavirus cases, saying any new infections would be announced immediately. The WHO will also be notified, it added.
Two new cases
Qatar’s health ministry confirmed two more cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to three. The two Qatari individuals were evacuated from Iran on February 27 and were placed in full quarantine.
The Gulf state’s health ministry said on Saturday a 36-year-old Qatari man who returned recently from Iran was its first confirmed case. He was in a stable condition.
Iran is the Middle East’s worst-hit country by the coronavirus as it announced 11 deaths on Sunday, bringing its death toll to 54. More than 600 people have been found infected.
Meanwhile, Bahrain’s ministry of health confirmed six new coronavirus cases on Sunday, raising the total number to 47 cases, the state news agency reported.
Some neighbouring countries have closed their borders with Iran and several countries have stopped flights.
Across the world, more than 2,900 people have died from the fast-spreading virus that appears to have originated in China in December.
More than 87,000 people have been infected worldwide.
On Friday, the WHO warned the spread of the virus is “getting bigger”.