DUBAI: Coronavirus has been widely spreading in the Middle East during the past week with Iran recording the highest number of infections and deaths in the region.
Countries in the Middle East are currently taking extraordinary steps to prevent the growing coronavirus outbreak.
20:25 - Lebanon announced on Friday it was closing the country's schools effective Feb. 29 until Mar. 8 as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus, an education ministry statement said.
Lebanon on Friday confirmed the country's fourth case of the virus and has restricted flights from countries affected by the outbreak.
20:15 - Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health announced that tests performed on 167 people who were quarantined after coming into contact with the two confirmed cases of coronavirus announced on Thursday have returned negative.
Tests on other people who have come into contact with two Italian staff members of teams which were participating in the UAE Tour are still being tested.
19:45 - Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been temporarily banned from entering Saudi Arabia’s holy cities Makkah and Madinah, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The decision was made in light of the rising number of coronavirus cases in some GCC countries like Kuwait and Bahrain, which have 45 and 36 reported cases respectively.
GCC citizens who have been in Saudi Arabia for 14 continuous days and have not displayed symptoms of coronavirus are exempt from the ban, and can obtain a permit from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s website should they wish to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.
19:08 - France on Friday reported 19 new confirmed coronavirus cases, taking the total to 57, and French Health Minister Olivier Veran recommended that people refrain from shaking hands in order to prevent infection.
He also said that several schools in the Oise area north of Paris would remain closed after holidays end on Sunday in order to halt the spread of the virus.
Separately, Defence Minister Florence Parly said on her Twitter feed that several confirmed coronavirus infections had been reported on the military base of Creil, north of Paris.
17:55 - Prime Minister Boris Johnson said slowing the spread of the coronavirus was now his government's top priority, shortly after news on Friday that the first British person had died of the disease after contracting it on a cruise ship moored in Japan.
17:10 - The World Health Organization (WHO) raised its global risk assessment of coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and caused financial markets to plunge.
16:55 - Oman’s embassy in Tehran has urged Omani citizens to contact it as soon as possible so they can be evacuated from Iran.
16:45 - Kuwait Airways said it will operate a flight to Bangkok, Thailand to evacuate Kuwaiti citizens there, the country's information ministry said.
15:33 - Bahrain’s health ministry says two more cases of coronavirus have been reported. A Bahraini woman and a Saudi woman who both arrived in the country after traveling to Iran have been infected bringing the total number of cases in the country to 36.
14:57 - The consular section of the Russian embassy in Iran has suspended services temporarily. However, business, humanitarian and diplomatic visas will continue to be issued as usual, a statement said.
14:44 - Kuwait now has 45 cases of coronavirus in the country.
14:23 - Moscow authorities are deporting 88 foreign nationals who violated quarantine measures imposed on them as a precaution against coronavirus, the RIA news agency cited Moscow's deputy mayor as saying on Friday.
14:01 - Tunisia says one its citizens arriving from Italy has been quarantined after he displayed symptoms of the virus.
13:50: Mexico's Health Ministry confirmed the country's first case of coronavirus on Friday, saying a young man had tested positive for it in the capital.
13:25 - Seven cases of the virus have been reported in Iraq, the Iraqi High Commission For Human Rights reported.
13:15 - A British man who was infected by the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has died, bringing the death toll among passenger from the vessel to six.
12:55 - The Muslim World League said that it supports Saudi Arabia's temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims and tourist visa holders from countries classified as high risk entering the Kingdom.
12:35 - Iran’s health minister says all schools in the country are to close from Saturday to Tuesday over coronavirus concerns.
09:54 – Oman has suspended the use of Gulf national identity cards in traveling to and from the country.
09:40 – The Iranian health ministry said that Inter-city flights should be canceled to prevent the spread coronavirus.
The ministry's spokesman said the new coronavirus has killed 34 people amid 388 confirmed cases in Iran.
09:19 – A World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman said the coronavirus outbreak is “getting bigger,” and the scenario of it reaching multiple countries, “if not all countries” is something they have been warning about for quite a while.
The spokesman said a WHO mission to hard-hit Iran was still being put together, and was supposed to start early next week.
WHO's Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is time to take action to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives.
.@WHO stands ready to support every country to develop its national #COVID19 plan. This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action now to prevent infections and save lives now.https://t.co/JlYHh5cyap
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 27, 2020
09:01 – Bahrain has announced three new coronavirus cases arriving from Iran, bringing the total number of people infected to 36.
The country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has started an evacuation plan for Bahraini nationals in Iran including screening and quarantine procedures. The Ministry also called on all Bahrainis to register their details by calling: +97317227555
08:42 – Lebanon banned entry to people arriving from Iran and countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
08:09 – Israel’s health ministry on Friday confirmed its second case of coronavirus, a person it said had been in close contact with a man who tested positive after visiting Italy.
“Another coronavirus patient who was in close personal contact with the patient who returned from Italy was diagnosed with a positive result, and transferred to isolation,” the health ministry said in a statement.
A week ago, two Israeli passengers who tested positive after traveling on the virus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess were quarantined in an Israeli hospital.
07:00 – Kuwait's health ministry said all those with coronavirus in the country are in stable condition. The ministry added that it has qualified personnel dealing with coronavirus cases and that no one has been hired from abroad.
05:37 – The Russian government ordered the foreign ministry to suspend issue of visas to Iranian citizens.