Oman reports first two cases of coronavirus, bans flights to Iran as disease spreads

Oman reports first two cases of coronavirus, bans flights to Iran as disease spreads
Two people have been diagnosed with coronavirus in Oman, making it the first case in the Gulf state.
2 min read
24 February, 2020
A number of countries in the Middle East have reported cases [Getty]
Oman's health ministry reported the first two cases of coronavirus in the Gulf state, Oman TV reported on Monday, as Muscat authorities ordered a ban on flights to Iran - the epicentre of the virus in the region.

The two Omani women diagnosed with the disease had visited Iran, it said, adding that they are in a stable condition. 

It comes on the day that three Arab countries announced their first cases of the disease, as coronavirus spreads across the Middle East with startling speed.

Over the past month, the UAE has reported 13 cases of the virus, while Iran has at least 43, with one lawmaker on Monday alleging that 50 people died from coronavirus in Qom alone – a number the government disputes.

Lebanon has reported a case of the virus, while Iraq's health ministry announced on Monday it had found one person to be infected with the virus.

Several countries including Turkey have suspended flights to Iran, which has the second highest deaths from coronavirus after China, which is where the virus is thought to have originated.

Kuwait reported three infections and Bahrain one on Monday.

"Tests conducted on those coming from the Iranian holy city of Mashhad showed there were three confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19)," the Kuwaiti health ministry said in a statement posted on Twitter.

It said the cases were of a 53-year-old Kuwaiti man, a 61-year-old Saudi citizen and a 21-year-old stateless Arab, known as "Bidoon".

"All three cases are under constant observation by the health authority," the ministry added.

Bahrain's health ministry also reported the country's first COVID-19 case on Monday after a "citizen arriving from Iran was suspected of having contracted the virus based on emerging symptoms".

The patient was transferred to a medical centre for "immediate testing", which proved positive for the infection, the ministry added.

Read More: Could coronavirus impact oil markets?

Iraq on Monday also confirmed its first novel coronavirus case as an elderly Iranian national in the southern shrine city of Najaf was diagnosed with the illness, according to health officials.

Iraq, a country with a dilapidated healthcare system, often hosts pilgrims and religious students from Iran, where 12 people have died of the novel coronavirus since an outbreak there was first reported last week.

Social media campaigns across the country have attempted to raise awareness of the health issue, with many urging citizens to wear face masks.

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