Kuwait bans flights to coronavirus ‘high risk’ countries

Above, Filipinos wait for their flight home at the Kuwait International Airport on April 3, 2020. The Gulf nation banned commercial flights to several countries including the Philippines on coronavirus transmission fears. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 01 August 2020

Kuwait bans flights to coronavirus ‘high risk’ countries

  • Countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon and Sri Lanka

DUBAI: Kuwait has banned until further notice commercial flights to 31 countries it said that it regarded as high risk due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Saturday.

The countries include India, Pakistan, Egypt, the Philippines, Lebanon and Sri Lanka, which all have large numbers of expatriates in Kuwait. The list also includes China, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and Iraq.

The ban was announced the same day Kuwait began a partial resumption of commercial flights. The authorities have said Kuwait International Airport would run at about 30% capacity from Saturday, gradually increasing in coming months. Egyptian national carrier EgyptAir also announced it would halt flights to the Gulf country.

Kuwait, which has recorded nearly 67,000 coronavirus cases and more than 400 deaths, began a five-phase plan at the start of June to gradually lift restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus. A partial curfew remains in place.


Lebanon information minister quits in first government resignation over blast

Updated 51 min 43 sec ago

Lebanon information minister quits in first government resignation over blast

  • Manal Abdel-Samad apologizes to the Lebanese public for failing them
  • Explosion killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s information minister Manal Abdel Samad on Sunday quit in the first government resignation since a deadly port blast killed more than 150 people and destroyed swathes of the capital.

“After the enormous Beirut catastrophe, I announce my resignation from government,” she said in a statement carried by local media, apologizing to the Lebanese public for failing them.

The head of Lebanon’s Maronite church meanwhile called on the entire government to step down over the August 4 explosion, a blast widely seen as shocking proof of the rot at the core of the state apparatus.

Lebanese protesters enraged by the blast vowed to rally again after a night of street clashes in which they stormed several ministries.

Maronite patriarch Beshara Rai joined the chorus of people pressing Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down over a blast he said could be “described as a crime against humanity.”

“It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here or a minister to resign there,” Rai said in a Sunday sermon.

“It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward.”

Rai echoed calls by Diab for early parliamentary polls — a long-standing demand of a protest movement that began in October, demanding the removal of a political class deemed inept and corrupt.

He also joined world leaders, international organizations and the angry Lebanese public by pressing for an international probe into an explosion authorities say was triggered by a fire in a port warehouse, where a huge shipment of hazardous ammonium nitrate had languished for years.

President Michel Aoun on Friday rejected calls for an international investigation, which he said would “dilute the truth.”

At least six lawmakers have quit since the explosion.

Under increased pressure from the street and foreign partners exasperated by the leadership’s inability to enact reforms, Diab’s government is fraying at the edges.