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Qatar bans visitors from Egypt on coronavirus fears

Qatar also announces two new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing total to three
Egyptian Quarantine Authority employees at Cairo International Airport last month (AFP)

Qatar imposed a temporary entrance restriction on visitors from Egypt via intermediate points because of the spread of the coronavirus, the country's aviation authority said on Sunday.

Qatar also announced two new cases of coronavirus, according to the Health Ministry's Twitter account, bringing the total to three.

Two Qatari individuals were evacuated from Iran on 27 February and have been under full quarantine, MEE reported. On 29 February, Qatar's ministry reported its first case of coronavirus, a 36-year-old Qatari man who had recently returned from Iran.

Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority said on Sunday in a statement to travel agents and airline managers that “it is forbidden to carry passengers holding the Egyptian nationality arriving to Doha through intermediate points, until further notice”.

The travel ban was imposed to minimise the spread of the coronavirus, the statement added.

Egypt's health ministry reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus on 14 February, saying the infected person was a foreign national. The WHO confirmed on 19 February that the person was recovering and no longer a carrier of the illness, but would remain in quarantine for the mandated 14 days, MEE reported.

No further reports of infection have been released from Egyptian authorities, Al Jazeera said.

Egypt's health ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed told Ahram Online on Sunday it "denies once again the detection of any diagnosed or suspected cases of the coronavirus across all governorates", Al Jazeera reported.

Megahed's comments came after news reports said two suspected coronavirus victims were transferred to a hospital in northern Egypt to be quarantined, Al Jazeera said.

On Friday, the Egyptian cabinet had denied rumours that authorities had discovered numerous new coronavirus cases, Al Jazeera said.

Qatar MotoGP race cancelled

Meanwhile, the season-opening MotoGP race in Qatar next weekend was cancelled because of travel restrictions on passengers from Italy and elsewhere amid the coronavirus epidemic, MotoGP said on Sunday.

The floodlit night race had been scheduled for the Losail circuit on 8 March, Reuters said.

Iran is the worst-hit country outside of China, MEE has reported. On Sunday, Iran's health ministry reported 11 new deaths from coronavirus and 385 infections, bringing the overall number of lives lost to 54 and cases to 978.

Across the world, more than 2,900 people have died from the virus that appears to have originated in China in December. More than 87,000 people have been infected worldwide.