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15 Mar 2020 | 03:08 PM UTC

Qatar: Government to suspend entry of foreign nationals due to COVID-19 March 18 /update 12

Emir orders ban on entry of non-Qataris as of March 18 due to concerns over COVID-19 spread; inbound flights to Doha to be suspended

entry/exit
health
transportation
QAT

Event

Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani announced on Sunday, March 15, that all non-Qataris will be banned from entering the country as of Wednesday, March 18, for 14 days due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Qatari citizens will be exempt from the ban; however, all returning nationals will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Additionally, the Emir suspended all inbound flights to Doha's Hamad International Airport (DOH) during the abovementioned period. The directive will not apply to cargo and transit flights. Authorities also ordered a ban on all public transportation inside the country, effective Sunday evening (local time).

On Monday, March 9, Qatari officials announced the indefinite closure of schools, nurseries, and universities, both public and private, in efforts to control the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The closure took effect on Tuesday, March 10. 

As of Sunday afternoon, there have been 401 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

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 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.

Advice

The measures adopted by local authorities are evolving fluidly, and are usually effective immediately. Authorities are likely to modify - at very short notice - the list of countries subject to border control measures on arrival to the territory. 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 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.