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COVID-19 MENA UPDATE

16 March 2020
Covid-19 UPDATE

As all countries declare their emergency action plans for managing the spread of Corona virus, Australia has also imposed strict measures as of midnight Sunday 15 March. These include two-week quarantine period of self-isolation to all international inbound passengers. Events with over 500 people have been banned. In line with the Australian Government ban, universities have cancelled all non-essential large scale events. University classes however are considered an essential gathering and at this stage, are exempt from the ban.

As with all countries, this is a fast moving and fluid situation, so changes are anticipated. The strict measures being introduced directly impact human traffic. The measures do not apply to the movement of trade and cargo shipments.

The following update on the measures being taken across MENA is drawn from the following sources:
Al Hadath TV, Al Arabiya.net, Al Jazeera.net, Gulf News, The National and various Government websites.

Effective 15 March unless otherwise noted:
Kingdom of Bahrain
Bahrain has ordered the closure of schools, universities and nurseries for two weeks as a preventive measure. The Bahrain Grand Prix March 20-21 has been postponed. Bahrain is monitoring passengers arriving from coronavirus-affected countries and has suspended flights to and from Dubai and Sharjah as a preventive measure. Self-isolation is mandated to citizens/residents arriving from Iran.

Arab Republic of Egypt
Egypt has temporarily suspended all activities at education institutions including kindergartens, schools and tertiary institutions. Egypt implemented a 14-day quarantine period on passengers who travelled on the Nile cruise ship which had recorded 45 cases. There is currently no travel-history or nationality based restrictions at ports of entry, aside from a prohibition on Qatari citizens entering the country,
which was put in place after Qatar banned entry for Egyptians. There are no known additional requirements of travellers to Egypt at this point in time. Passengers undergo a body temperature scan at the port of entry. Passengers showing possible symptoms are tested for infection.

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Jordan will ban travel to France, Germany, and Spain, starting today, March 16 and will suspend all flights to and from the country including land borders and seaports commencing Tuesday March 17. The restriction excludes diplomatic flights and cargo shipments. Schools and universities will also close for two weeks, and a suspension imposed on collective prayers, including mid-day Friday prayers,
at mosques and churches. Additionally, Jordan will cancel all major sporting events and shut movie theatres and tourist sites for a period of two weeks.

Republic of Iraq
Iraq has banned the entry of all passengers including citizens from the following countries: China, Iran, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Singapore, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, France, Spain, and Nigeria. Diplomats, official delegations, and Iraqi nationals are exempted from the ban. As of February 25, Iraq closed the following border crossings: Bashmakh, Haji Omaran, Parwezkhan, Munthiriya, Summar, and Safawan. The Shalamija, Shib, and Zurbatya border crossings are open only to Iraqi citizens.

Kingdom of Morocco
Morocco as has suspended all international air routes to and from its territory until further notice. In addition, the land borders with Ceuta and Melilla are closed. The cancellation of all events at least until the end of March include conferences, sporting, and cultural events and all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in an enclosed space, and of most public festivals.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom has imposed a work/employee suspension on attending work to all government employees with the exception of healthcare, military and security facilities as well as cyber security and remote education services.

Saudi has restricted the usage of the King Fahad Causeway to commercial trucks only.

Temporary suspension has been imposed on all inbound and outbound commercial international flights for a period of two weeks. Any GCC national, Saudi citizen, or resident and who has travelled to China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Italy, Lebanon, Egypt, United States and European countries and are symptomatic (have a fever, cough, shortness of breath) will be
taken to a health centre for testing. Any passenger that tests positive will be placed under isolation in a government healthcare isolation facility. Passengers who have travelled to China or Hong Kong in the past 14 days and have no symptoms and a negative COVID-19 test result must remain in a separate health facility for 14 days of quarantine. Passengers who have arrived into the Kingdom from Thailand,
Malaysia, South Korea, Iran, Singapore, Japan, Italy, Lebanon, Egypt, United States and European countries who are not symptomatic must sign a health declaration form, take a swab in the airport and remain under quarantine at home for 14 days.

The Kingdom has also suspended all maritime traffic except for trade and cargo shipments as well as for evacuation purposes between KSA and the following countries: UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, South Korea, China, EU countries, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Southern Sudan and the Philippines.

State of Kuwait
Kuwait imposed a flight ban on 13 March and continues to observe strict lockdown measures across the country which includes a ban on all commercial flights.

Republic of Lebanon
Lebanon has declared a medical state of emergency and closure of most public institutions and private companies. Further, tight measures will take effect from 18-29 March closing borders, ports and the airport. Citizens have been urged to remain at home except for matters of extreme necessity.

Sultanate of Oman
Oman has imposed a temporary suspension on tourist visas including visa-on-arrival for all countries, and the issuance of new eVisas. Travelers with a valid tourist visas may enter Oman only after undergoing unspecified medical tests and examinations for Coronavirus, though there are reports some travellers with valid tourist visas have not been allowed to board flights to Oman. The suspension also includes entry of cruise ships to the Sultanate’s ports. Omani authorities have recommended against travelling abroad except for the most urgent necessity. Advice is also being given to avoid public places and places of worship; and to not go to cinemas.

State of Qatar
Temporary suspension on the issuing of visas upon arrival to passengers coming from European countries as of Sunday 15 March. All in-bound flights will be banned from Wednesday 18 March except for cargo flights. Qatar has advised its residents to postpone travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Singapore, Japan and Italy. All public transport has been suspended.

Republic of Tunisia
Tunisia is monitoring all passengers arriving from, or have recently travelled to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Singapore, Austria, Malaysia, Bahrain as well as anyone who was a passenger on a Diamond Princess Cruise and requires a 14-day self-isolation from the date they arrived in Tunisia. Tunisia operates thermal cameras and/or frontal lasers at all ports of entry. Visitors are asked to fill out a health questionnaire on arrival and may be subject to temperature and other screening. All ferry services and some flights between Tunisia and Italy have been suspended.

United Arab Emirates
The UAE will impose a temporary suspension effective 17 March on the issuing of all visas except for diplomatic passport holders. Further, the UAE has suspended all inbound and outbound flights with Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Australian passport holders are exempt along with UK, Canada and US. All schools and colleges in the UAE have been closed for four weeks having commenced 8 March.

Public social gatherings including cultural, tourism, festival and entertainment activities have been suspended as well as cinemas, arcades, spas, gyms and parks until end March.

END

Countries chosen in this overview are based on trade data and Australia’s representation in the region.

AACCI will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide as much information as possible to our members and stakeholders.

For specific country updates not included in this bulletin please see official government websites or please do not hesitate to contact us at AACCI at info@austarab.com.au for assistance.

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