On Monday, March 16, Gulf Air announced that it will suspend routes to nearly 75 percent of its destinations from Wednesday, March 18, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Flights will continue to operate between Manama and the following destinations: Abu Dhabi and Dubai (UAE), Muscat (Oman), London (UK), Paris (France), Frankfurt (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey), Cairo (Egypt), Mumbai, Delhi, and Cochin (India), Karachi (Pakistan), and Manila (Philippines).
Bahrain's Ministry of Interior announced that the country will stop issuing visas on arrival to all foreign travelers on Wednesday. Individuals traveling with diplomatic passports are exempt from this restriction. Residents and nationals of Bahrain, GCC nationals, and individuals with existing visas will be allowed entry.
As of Tuesday, March 17, all individuals traveling from mainland China, Iran, South Korea, Iraq, Hong Kong, Italy, Lebanon, Egypt, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, the European Union, the UK, and the US will be subject to medical tests, screening, and possibly mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Bahrain. GCC nationals and residents of Bahrain who visited Hong Kong, mainland China, Iran, or Iraq in the 14 days prior to arrival in Bahrain will be subject to a mandatory quarantine.
To date, there have been over 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bahrain, including one associated fatality. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak as pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.