Kuwaiti authorities to suspend all commercial flights from March 13 until further notice. Additional restrictions likely in the coming days.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 11 Mar 2020 17:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 18 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, health screenings, increased immigration wait times

Summary
Authorities announced the suspension of all commercial flights to and from Kuwait effective March 13 until further notice. Flight arrivals will be limited to Kuwait nationals and cargo planes. Cargo flights will remain operational. The measure has been taken in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Kuwait's Ministry of Health announced March 10 that any expatriate who arrived in Kuwait Feb. 27 or thereafter is to visit the ministry's new headquarters for screening measures. Attendance is compulsory, and expatriates must bring their civil identification cards and passport. Visits to the ministry's headquarters are to be arranged according to the following schedule:

  • Residents of Al Jahra Governorate: March 12
  • Residents of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Governorate: March 13
  • Residents of Farwaniyah Governorate: March 14
  • Residents of Hawally Governorate: March 15
  • Residents of Ahmadi Governorate: March 16
  • Residents of the Capital (Al Asimah) Governorate: March 17


On March 7, the Kuwaiti Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had suspended all flights to and from Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Lebanon, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Syria for one week. Authorities are also banning visitors with recent travel history to the above countries in the last two weeks from entering Kuwait.

The DGCA had previously announced that beginning March 8, travelers from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Georgia, India, Lebanon, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Turkey will be required to produce certificates issued by the Kuwaiti Embassy in their respective country verifying they are free of COVID-19. This measure will now only apply to travelers from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, beginning March 8, following the week-long flight suspension to the other affected nations from March 7. Travelers from these countries who do not provide the necessary certification will not be allowed to enter.

As of Feb. 25, the DGCA had suspended all flights with Iran, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand until further notice. Non-Kuwaiti nationals who visited these countries within the previous 14 days are not permitted to enter Kuwait, even with a valid visa. Authorities announced they would stop issuing visas for those coming from these countries. Returning Kuwaiti nationals, on the other hand, are subject to additional health screenings and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period until officials can verify they are free of the disease.

Additionally, the Kuwaiti Ports Authority (KPA) announced March 3 that they had closed Doha port to avoid interaction with Iranian ship crews. The KPA previously banned entry to all Iraqi marine vessels from the ports of Shuaiba, Shuwaikh, and Doha Feb. 24 until further notice. Further air, maritime, and ground travel restrictions and screening measures are likely over the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The WHO has declared the ongoing outbreak of the virus to be a global health emergency. COVID-19 originated in Wuhan City in China's Hubei Province. As of March 2, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Health has confirmed 56 cases of COVID-19; the majority of infected individuals were evacuated from Iran or had been in contact with people from Iran.

Advice
Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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