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Coronavirus: Kuwait bans flights to 31 'high risk' countries

Commercial flights resume at Kuwait International Airport after months of shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Travellers staying at a safe distance from each other gather in the departure hall of Kuwait international Airport on Saturday, 1 August (AFP)

Kuwait has expanded its ban on inbound and outbound commercial flights to 31 countries due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, the civil aviation authority said Saturday. 

The ban comes on the same day the Gulf country partially resumed commercial flights, with Kuwait International Airport set to run at about 30 percent capacity. 

According to the Twitter account of the Civil Aviation authority, the new list includes the following countries: India, Iran, China, Brazil, Columbia, Armenia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Syria, Spain, Singapore, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq,  Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Italy, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Montenegro, Dominican Republic, and Kosovo.

A previous list included only Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Nepal, but a number of Kuwaiti members of parliament demanded that the government expand the list given the continued threat of Covid-19 in many other destinations.  

Some have raised questions about the criteria behind the first list, while others specifically called for a ban on Egyptian flights after news that EgyptAir had scheduled 15 weekly flights to the country from the beginning of August, the Kuwait Times reported.

A trending hashtag by Kuwaiti social media users also demanded the ban on Egyptian flights. 

On Saturday, an Egyptian traveller said in a video circulating on Twitter that he and other passengers were asked to leave a plane after boarding, minutes after the ban list was announced. 

"We were about to fly, but they stopped the flight after the decision by the civil aviation authority," he said. It was not clear from the video whether the flight was an EgyptAir one. 

Meanwhile, authorities confirmed on Saturday that, unlike rumours to the contrary, all passengers arriving in the country will be required to present polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test certificates, valid for 96 hours from the date of the test. 

Kuwait began a five-phase plan in June to gradually ease the lockdown imposed since the outbreak of the virus, which has so far infected 67,000 and killed 400 people in the country.