The Kuwaiti Civil Aviation authority announced on Saturday, March 7, that all flights to and from Bangladesh, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, will be suspended until Friday, March 13, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Flight cancelations to the aforementioned countries are ongoing as of Monday, March 9. Aviation authorities said that individuals having traveled to these countries "in the last couple of weeks" will be denied entry into Kuwait. Exceptions will be made for Kuwaiti nationals, however, they will be will be required to undergo home quarantine in Kuwait for a period of 14 days starting from the date of departure of the country in concern.
This is in addition to a January 30 travel ban on individuals who have visited China or Hong Kong in the 14 days prior to scheduled arrival into Kuwait. Authorities subsequently expanded the list of countries affected by this travel ban to include Iraq, South Korea, Thailand, and Italy as of Monday, February 24, as well as Singapore and Japan, on Wednesday, February 26. The Kuwaiti aviation authority previously suspended flights to and from Iran on Thursday, February 20.
As of Sunday, March 8, authorities have confirmed at least 64 cases of the COVID-19 nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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 numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by 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 the tissue away immediately, if used, and wash hands
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider
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.