DUBAI (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi said on Saturday it was shutting major tourism and cultural venues, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the Ferrari World theme park, from March 15-31, as Arab states in the Gulf stepped up measures against coronavirus.
The latest announcement was made in tweets by the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office. Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates federation.
Gulf Arab states have stepped up measures to contain the outbreak, with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait taking the most drastic decisions by cancelling all international flights.
Saudi Arabia has suspended all international flights for two weeks, starting on Sunday, while Kuwait did not specify a period for the lockdown which started on Saturday.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of six oil-rich Arab monarchies which also gathers Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, has reported nearly 850 coronavirus infections, mostly people who had traveled to Iran or who were contaminated by them.
No death has been reported in the GCC, unlike in Iran where the death toll from the virus rose by nearly one hundred on Saturday to 611, out of a total of 12,729 infections.
Oman, which has the lowest number of infections in the region at 20, announced on Saturday a one-month closure of schools and educational institutions, a precaution taken by other GCC states.
Saudi Arabia canceled until further notice all sports events and decided to close all sports centers, state media said.
The UAE will suspend all visa issuance, except to foreign diplomats, starting March 17, the official news agency WAM reported, citing immigration authorities.
Qatar decided to stop issuing visas upon arrival to a number of European nationalities from Sunday, the government communication office said.
Qatar confirmed on Saturday 17 new infections, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the disease to 337, the highest in the GCC, followed by Bahrain with 211 and Kuwait with 104.
Gulf health authorities have intensified pleas to the population to avoid gatherings and are carrying out campaigns to sanitize public places.
“I urge you by God to stay at home,” said Kuwaiti Health Minister Basel Al-Sabah on state TV.
In Dubai, a number of shops have voluntarily closed to contribute to the containment efforts.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Edmund Blair, Kirsten Donovan
Image: FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates October 27, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Pike