Qatar closes schools and universities nationwide from March 10 until further notice. Further measures and travel restrictions likely.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 09 Mar 2020 16:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Qatari authorities announced a nationwide closure of schools and universities from March 10 until further notice. Authorities previously announced March 8 that, in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), they would bar foreigners traveling from 14 countries, including Egypt, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Thailand, from entering Qatar, until further notice. Qatari officials have stated that this measure is only temporary. Authorities will permit entry to Qatari nationals returning from the above countries but will place them under a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days. Qatar Airways (QR) has already suspended flights to and from Italy.

Authorities announced Feb. 27 that they will permit entry to Qatari nationals and holders of a valid residency permit arriving from mainland China, Iran, and South Korea, but will place these people under a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Authorities had previously announced that they would send Qatari nationals, holders of a valid residency permit, and travelers transiting Doha from mainland China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Iran, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea and showing symptoms of COVID-19 for treatment at Doha's Communicable Disease Center. Qatari authorities may announce additional travel restrictions in 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 China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province and has since spread to several countries across the globe.

As of March 9, there are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Qatar. All individuals infected with the disease had traveled to Iran. COVID-19 has affect Iran the worst in the region, with over 600 people infected and 54 people confirmed dead.

Advice
Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel to Qatar. 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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