The Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) authority in the Kingdom of Bahrain announced on Thursday, February 27, that it will suspend all flights to and from Lebanon and Iraq until further notice due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The CAA extended its flight suspensions to Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Sharjah International Airport (SHJ) for another 48 hours from Wednesday, February 26. Authorities also said that all arrivals to Bahrain International Airport (BAH) suspected of contracting the virus will be examined, and individuals showing symptoms will be immediately transported to designated centers for isolation and treatment. The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) announced a temporary ban on Wednesday for those traveling into the country from Iran, warning that anyone not abiding by the ban will face penalties.
Authorities have suspended all private and public schools, universities, and nurseries for two weeks as of Tuesday, February 25, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As of Thursday, Ministry of Health officials have confirmed 33 cases of COVID-19 in Bahrain. Further spread of the virus is expected in 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 February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."
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.
Individuals traveling via BAH are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home government.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
- Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.