Qatar confirms first coronavirus death, a Bangladeshi resident

Qatar reported its first death from COVID-19 on Saturday, a Bangladeshi resident, as its neighbour the United Arab Emirates extended to April 5 a nightly curfew to sterilise public places to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Published : 28 March 2020, 07:08 PM
Updated : 28 March 2020, 07:51 PM

The UAE's deep clean campaign, being implemented between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day, began on March 26 and had been due to end on the morning of March 29.

"We are all hoping that everybody - citizens, residents and visitors - will stay at home during this period," Farida Al- Hosani, a health ministry spokeswoman, told a news conference.

Qatar became the latest Gulf state to report its first virus-related death, a Bangladeshi resident. The majority of the 590 cases in Qatar are among migrant labourers, where foreigners make up most of the work force.

Qatar said on Saturday it was quarantining 31 Bahrainis who travelled from Iran to Doha on Friday. They cannot go directly to Bahrain, one of four states boycotting Qatar since mid-2017 due to a political dispute.

Qatar's Government Communications Office said that Doha offered to return them home on a private charter flight.

"The government of Bahrain declined this option. Bahraini officials have said they will send a flight for them at some undefined point in the future," it said in a statement, adding that Qatari authorities had tested the group for the virus.

The Bahraini Health Ministry told Reuters that Manama was continuing its repatriation plan and had operated three charter flights so far to Iran, which is one of the epicentres of the disease.

The six Gulf Arab states have confirmed a total of over 3,000 infections, many related to travel to Iran, and 11 deaths from the virus.

The UAE has reported two deaths from the pandemic and 468 confirmed infections. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the country's de facto ruler, visited a mobile coronavirus testing centre on Saturday and posted on Twitter a picture of himself receiving a nasal swab while in a car.

Dubai, the region's business and tourism hub and a major air transit centre, announced more incentives to protect an economy which has been hit hard by global travel disruptions and the closure of most public venues in the UAE.

Among measures announced by the Dubai Free Zones Council on Saturday were six-month rent waivers, cancellation of fines and permitting temporary employee contracts until the end of the year to support employment efforts, state news agency WAM said.

*This story has been recast from Reuters to highlight the death of a Bangladeshi

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher