Kuwait grounds all commercial flights and closes workplaces

The country announced a two-week public holiday in a bid to keep people home

An expatriate nurse (L), takes a coronavirus clearance certificate from a doctor, after returning from a vacation, following the outbreak of the virus, at a health clinic in Subhan, Kuwait March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee
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The Kuwait government is enacting new preventive measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, including grounding all commercial flights and closing several public gathering spots, including workplaces.

Kuwait's state news agency KUNA announced the suspension of all commercial flights to and from Kuwait International Airport beginning on Friday. The ban, which excludes cargo flights, will remain in effect until further notice. Kuwaitis and their first-degree relatives will be exempt from the ban.

The government announced several other preventive measures, including a two-week public holiday that would close all workplaces until March 26, with work resuming on March 29. In addition, the country will ban individuals from going to public gathering spots such as restaurants and cafes, including those inside malls.

The measures will effectively put a halt to many public aspects of life in Kuwait in an effort to keep people isolated. Medical experts have advised social distancing is an effective way of containing the virus.

The country announced three new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of infected individuals to 72. One of the newly diagnosed patients had recently travelled to Iran. The other two patients had come into contact with an individual that was previously infected after returning from Azerbaijan.

Health Minister Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah announced on Wednesday that three individuals had successfully recovered from the respiratory illness, bringing the total number of recovered cases to five.