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Coronavirus: Kuwait to suspend all commercial flights

The Gulf Arab state declares public holiday after recording 70 cases of infection
Kuwaiti health ministry workers scan employees and visitors of the ministries complex as they arrive at work, in Kuwait City on 4 March 2020 (AFP)

Kuwait will halt all commercial flights to and from Kuwait City International Airport “from Friday and until further notice”, state news agency KUNA said on Wednesday, as the Middle East struggles to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The decision does not include cargo flights, the news agency said.

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Only flights carrying Kuwaiti nationals and their "first-degree relatives" will be allowed, a government spokesman told KUNA.

Meanwhile, authorities announced a public holiday from 12 to 26 March, with work resuming on 29 March, but entities providing vital services will remain open.

Additionally, authorities will ban meetings in "restaurants, cafes and commercial centres".

The ministry of Islamic affairs will disseminate messages "warning on the dangers of gatherings" and informing worshippers on how to avoid infections at mosques.

Kuwait and other Gulf states had already imposed restrictions on air travel with countries heavily affected by coronavirus, notably Iran, where authorities say 354 people have so far been killed by the disease.

Kuwait has reported 72 cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday, two of them have recovered.