Bahrain's overseas students get coronavirus care packages

Local embassies in the US and UK have sent essential food items as well as face masks, sanitisers and paracetamol to students abroad

Volunteers wearing protective face masks and gloves hand out Iftar meals provided by the authorities, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in Manama, Bahrain, May 6, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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Bahraini students studying in the UK and the US have received a coronavirus “care package” from their embassy that includes food, medical supplies and the latest advice from the government on staying safe.

Organised through the local embassies, the hundreds of care packages include long-life essential food items such as pasta, tins, tea bags and oil and also have masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and paracetamol.

The boxes also contain a letter with advice on "additional precautionary measures during this temporary period, for the safety and protection of everyone", the Bahrain Economic Development Board said on Wednesday.

“The parcels offer supplies at a time when many supermarkets and pharmacies around the world are experiencing stock shortages,” the agency said.

Bahrain’s embassy in Washington has coordinated with 136 universities in North America to assist students and fielded thousands of calls on a dedicated hotline, BEDB said. So far, the embassy has also purchased 71 flights home for Bahraini nationals unable to get back themselves.

Bahrain has received praise from experts for its handling of the pandemic so far with strict measures to stop the spread, a comprehensive tracing programme to map infections and widespread testing in the community. It was also the first Arab country to join a World Health Organization initiative to pool resources to help produce a treatment or vaccine.

The kingdom converted public buses into mobile testing units and established a number of field hospitals to treat cases.

Bahrain currently has 5,531 confirmed cases but only 9 deaths. While the small island kingdom has now begun to ease some restrictions with malls and shops slowly reopening, there have been some setbacks.

This week, 16 members of a family tested positive after sharing an Iftar meal and is still registering several hundred new infections a day.