Coronavirus: Official Updates
Below are the latest updates about COVID-19 from reliable news outlets and official government/agency bulletins.
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The outbreak is inevitably having an enormous impact. Here’s Rehlat’s blog, which would be updated daily with Coronavirus news from reliable sources and official government/agency bulletins.
Coronavirus Latest Updates: At a Glance
A summary of the biggest developments in the global coronavirus outbreak
- Spain plans to reopen its borders around the end of June for tourism as its coronavirus lockdown fully unwinds.
- Delta Air Lines would resume flying several major routes in June that were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, including some Trans-Atlantic and Caribbean destinations.
- UAE extends lockdown hours ahead of Eid Al Fitr, as new cases rise. Shopping malls opening hours will be reduced from Wednesday May 20, revised to 9am to 7pm until further notice.
- Kuwait imposes mandatory wearing of masks in public. Residents who fail to wear face masks could be hit with maximum $16,200 fine
- Saudi Arabia to enforce full lockdown during Eid al-Fitr holiday from May 23-27
- Saudi Airlines to open booking for domestic flights on June 1. Booking for international flights will open on September 1
- Kuwait extends public, private sector holiday until May 28
- Muscat to remain in total lockdown until May 28
- Arabian Travel Market 2020 in Dubai cancelled over global Covid-19 pandemic
- UAE officially proposes October 1, 2021 start for World Expo 2020 Dubai
- Tokyo Olympics to start on July 23, 2021
COVID-19/Coronavirus News Complete Coverage
Emirates to resume passenger flights to 9 destinations on May 21
Emirates will operate scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21. In a statement, Emirates said that it would resume flights to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Additionally, the airline will also offer connections in Dubai for customers travelling between the UK and Australia.
Italy’s PM outlines lockdown easing measures from 4th May
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures would be relaxed from 4 May, with people being allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers.
Parks, factories and building sites will reopen, but schools will not restart classes until September.
Saudi Arabia partially lifts curfew except in Mecca
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has issued an order to partially lift the curfew in all regions of the kingdom while keeping a 24-hour curfew in Mecca and in previously isolated neighborhoods.
The curfew will be lifted between 9am and 5pm from Sunday onwards, while malls, wholesale and retail shops will be allowed to reopen from the sixth day of Ramadan to the 20th day of the holy month – April 29 to May 13.
Emirates announces April repatriation flights
Emirates plans to operate a limited number of passenger flights through the end of April to repatriate citizens to several locations in Europe, Africa and Asia, the airline has announced.
In a statement, Emirates said that it plans to operate services to the Frankfurt, Germany on April 25, 27 and 29, as well as London Heathrow on April 23, 24, 26, 28 and 30.
Other flights include Madrid (April 29), Jakarta (April 26), Johannesburg (April 25), Tunis (April 30) and Manila (April 24, 28 and 30).
Emirates said that those who wish to travel to Johannesburg, Lagos and Tunis must contact the embassies and consulates of these countries in the UAE. Other flights can be booked on Rehlat
Only citizens of the destination countries and who meet entry requirements will be allowed to board.
Dubai malls and offices told to be ‘on standby’ for reopening
Restaurants and other F&B outlets will have to reduce seating to 30% and maintain seating and tables at least six feet apart.
Dubai’s government has told malls to be on standby for a gradual re-opening, with heavy safety measures to be put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect staff and customers.
In a document outlining protocols for the first step of a four-stage re-opening of major retail operations, Dubai Economy said that visitors to malls and staff must wear masks at all times, with hand sanitisers installed throughout the premises.
The document gave no date for the re-opening of malls, but it said operators should be on standby for an announcement.
Additionally, all malls must conduct sanitisation 24 hours a day, and implement a screening process that checks the temperature and health of everyone who enters. The malls must also have a mandatory isolation area to isolate potential Covid-19.
Expats seeking repatriation from Saudi Arabia can apply online
Expatriates in Saudi Arabia who have been issued with exit stamps or a final exit vehicle can apply to return home through the online Absher platform, the Saudi Ministry of Interior has announced.
The requests will then be reviewed. When approved, applicants will receive a text with flight details, which can then be used to purchase their tickets.
To apply, expats will need to provide their residency number, date of birth, mobile number, and the city they wish to leave from.
While flights will only be departing from Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah and Dammam, those outside those areas will be given time to reach them.
Emirates airline passenger flights set to remain grounded until July
Emirates flights from July onwards are open for booking, although the airline says that they are subject to change depending on developments of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The list of flights includes destinations across the Emirates network, including locations in Europe, the United States and Asia.
Source: Arabian Business
Saudi extends suspension of prayers at Two Holy Mosques for Ramadan
Prayer will be broadcast but both holy sites will remain closed for worshippers. You can log into https://mecca.net/mecca-live-prayers/ for live prayers.
Air Arabia to launch repatriation flights from India to UAE
Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia has revealed it is to operate new repatriation flights from four Indian cities back to the emirate, as part of efforts to bring UAE nationals home.
Flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Sharjah International Airport were launched on Monday, while further special flights will operate from Cochin and Hyderabad to Sharjah on Wednesday.
A statement from the airline said: “Air Arabia remains committed to bring stranded citizens back home as well as supporting requests to operate repatriation flights and is working closely with UAE authorities in this regard.”
Kuwait expands curfew hours starting from Ramadan
Kuwait extends the suspension of work in the public sector including at government ministries until May 31 and expand a nationwide curfew to 16 hours as part of efforts to combat the Coronavirus. The curfew hours would be from 4 pm to 8 am curfew & would go into effect at the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which could fall on Thursday or later this week depending on the sighting of the new crescent moon.
Itikaf suspended at Makkah & Madinah
Itikaf (the ritual of staying in a mosque solely for the purpose of worship and meditation) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque In Madinah during the upcoming month of Ramadan has been suspended.
This was announced by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques on its Twitter account on Monday. The move, it said, has come as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the presidency, also confirmed the suspension of the five daily obligatory prayers, taraweeh special prayers, and iftar meal during the holy fasting month to safeguard the health of worshipers and visitors.
He said that the five daily prayers and taraweeh prayers at the Two Holy Mosques will be performed only by the presidency officials and sterilization workers during the blessed month.
Taraweeh prayers will be shortened to 10 rakats, Sheikh Al-Sudais said adding that the qunut prayer will be brief and focused on praying to God to end the epidemic.
Egypt to halt public transport on Monday to limit holiday crowds
Egypt has country-wide curfew till 23rd April. Authorities have closed schools and universities, shut mosques and churches, stopped most public services and grounded flights to contain the spread of the virus.
Air Asia to resume domestic flights in several countries
Air Asia will resume domestic flights in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, India and Indonesia; subjected to approval from respective authorities. Flights in Malaysia will begin on April 29, flights in Thailand and the Philippines will commence on May 1, flights in India are set to begin May 4, and flights in Indonesia will start May 7.
Air Asia is advising guests to practice protective precautionary measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing and observing high personal hygiene on the flight. The airline said the aircraft are fitted with “hospital-standard” High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and will also be sent for a thorough disinfection after each flight.
Emirates Airlines announces special flights on Dubai – Manila route on 22nd & 24th April
Emirates is operating special flights to Manila on 20 April , 22 April and 24 April. it will be one way only and only for Philippine nationals. Tickets once issued is non-changeable and nonrefundable.
Air Arabia begins repatriation flights
Air Arabia has announced new passenger repatriation flights as well as cargo flights to multiple destinations from Sharjah International Airport.
The airline will operate a mix of outbound only passenger flights as well as cargo flights during the month of April to Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan, Egypt, India and Nepal. Masks & gloves are mandatory to board the flight.
Pakistan International Airlines to operate special flight to Dubai on April 17 to repatriate stranded Pakistanis
PIA has announced only flight as part of a special flight operation to repatriate Pakistanis from around the world. More than 25,000 stranded Pakistanis have registered with the Pakistani missions in the UAE demanding to go back home.
PIA special flights schedule
Following is the schedule of special repatriation flights announced by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Tuesday.
- Flights will depart for Manchester from Islamabad on April 17 and April 18.
- Two more flights will be operated between Islamabad and Seoul on April 17.
- A special flight will be operated between Karachi and Jakarta on April 18.
- Two special flights will be operated between Karachi and Toronto on April 15 and 19.
- A special flight will head to Dubai to bring back stranded Pakistanis on April 17.
- Two flights will bring back 360 Pakistani prisoners from Oman on April 15 and 16.
Saudi quarantine offers temporary lifeline to struggling hotels
Saudi Arabia has quarantined thousands of people in hotels, some in luxury suites, to combat Covid-19, throwing a temporary lifeline to an industry struggling just months after tourist visas were launched.
Bahrain’s Gulf Air to repatriate stranded citizens from Iran
Gulf Air, Bahrain’s state-owned national carrier, has begun flying to Iran to repatriate Bahrainis stranded there amid the coronavirus pandemic. More than a thousand Bahrainis, most of them visiting religious sites, have been stranded for more than 2 months in the Islamic republic, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.
Emirates airline announces repatriation flights to seven more destinations
Emirates airline is to launch repatriation passenger services to Jakarta, Manila Taipei, Chicago, Tunis, Algeria, and Kabul.
The flights are in addition to London and Frankfurt, which were previously announced, and will depart from Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3.
Only citizens of the destination country and those who meet the entry requirements will be allowed to board.
Source: Arabian Business
Jordan extends lockdown
Jordan has extended its month-long lockdown until the end of April. The country, which has registered 389 coronavirus cases and seven deaths, declared a 24-hour nationwide curfew on 20 March.
Etihad Airways announces new repatriation flights, including London, Tokyo and Dublin
Etihad Airways has announced repatriation flights to five new destinations that will allow passengers stranded in the UAE due to Covid-19 restrictions, the opportunity to return home.
The new destinations from Abu Dhabi include Brussels, Dublin, London Heathrow, Tokyo Narita and Zurich, with between two and three departure dates announced for each service.
The flights are in addition to those previously announced, to Amsterdam, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta.
Flydubai announces repatriation flights to 13 additional destinations
Flydubai has announced a list of repatriation flights for people in the UAE to return to their respective countries.
Flydubai announced bookings for repatriation flights are now available for residents and visitors to Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Source: Arabian Business
Kuwait to resume outbound flights for expat repatriation
Airlines have been given the green light to operate outbound flights for expatriates from Kuwait. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced on Saturday that the suspension of flights would be lifted in order to accommodate members of the expat community who wished to return to their native countries.
Source: Arabian Business
Philippine Airlines to launch flights to Saudi Arabia in May
Philippine Airlines has revealed plans to resume a selection of international and domestic flights on select routes in May, including Saudi Arabia.
However, the Filipino flag carrier has said the scheduling for next month does not include Dubai.
Saudi is on a list of destinations for the weekly flights, which includes Japan, the US (including Guam), Canada, Australia, the UK, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and South Korea.
Source: Arabian Business
Saudi Arabia: Validity of expats’ resident ID cards extended
Saudi Arabia extended the validity of expats’ resident ID cards for three months at no extra charges. This announcement was made by the General Directorate of Passports.
Flydubai opens up repatriation flights to Pakistan and India
Dubai-based Flydubai has opened up bookings for flights to Pakistan and India. All the flights have been scheduled for April 15 in order to repatriate nationals from both countries from the UAE.
Flydubai flights have been opened up to Faisalabad, Karachi, Sialkot and Multan. Flights to India include from Dubai to Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Lucknow and Mumbai.
Source: Arabian Business
Egypt offers virtual tours during lockdown
Egypt has launched “Experience Egypt” in the wake of the lockdown in the country following the emergence of COVID-19.
The virtual tours, available on the “Experience Egypt” website and on social media platforms, encourage people to stay home while experiencing the country’s most famous archeological and heritage sites.
Source: Arab News
Dubai Health Authority (DHA) home-delivers medicines across UAE & launches WhatsApp Assistance for Dubai.
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) on Monday announced the launch of a WhatsApp helpline number to answer people’s queries on the Covid-19 coronavirus. To access the 24/7 service, simply add 800342 to your contacts and send “Hi” on WhatsApp.
DHA also expanded the scope of its ‘Dawa’ee’ medicine home delivery service to now cover the entire UAE. “The authority expanded its services by partnering with Talabat, which will be providing its services nationwide for free based on lists provided by the DHA on a daily basis,” said Dr Ali Al Sayed, Director of the Pharmaceutical Services Department at the DHA
Source: Khaleej Times
Japan to declare a state of emergency over coronavirus pandemic
The state of emergency, which is expected to be formally announced at a press conference Tuesday, will last for approximately one month. The declaration comes as Japan reported 252 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths Monday, bringing the total number of infections to over 4,600, with 91 deaths.
24-hour curfew extended in Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia placed its capital Riyadh and other major cities under a 24-hour curfew on Monday. This has been extended for another 24 hours to combat coronavirus, as confirmed deaths from the disease hit 38.
The new curfew applies to the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, Hofuf, and the provinces of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Alkhobar, a statement from the Interior Ministry said.
Entry to or exit from those areas will not be allowed, except for vital workers. Residents are permitted to leave their homes for medical or food needs inside their residential area and between 6 am and 3 pm only.
Source: Arab News
Philippines extends COVID-19 lockdown to end of April
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on April 7, approved the extension of lockdown and home quarantine measures are covering more than half of the population, a crisis panel official said, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Source: Gulf News
Kuwait closes schools till August
The council of ministers has announced the closure of schools and universities until August 4 as part of its measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Combating COVID-19: Kuwait locks down two districts, extends public holiday until April 26
Kuwait placed a full lockdown on Jleeb al-Shuyoukh and Mahboula and extended a public holiday by two weeks until April 26 as precautionary measures against the coronavirus. It also extended its partial curfew by two hours in the morning to run from 5 pm (1400 GMT) until 6 am effective Monday until further notice.
Kuwait has recorded 665 cases of the new coronavirus and one death so far.
Source: Khaleej Times
Emirates & Etihad Cautiously Take To The Skies Again
Emirates & Etihad have relaunched some services, after an unprecedented period in which most fleets have been grounded mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay home and stay safe. Here’s an pictorial representation on home care for people suspected or confirmed for COVID-19.