Egypt bars Qataris over coronavirus fears

An Egyptian Quarantine Authority employee holds out a health form to be filled in by incoming travellers at Cairo International Airport on February 1, 2020, amidst efforts to detect possible cases of SARS-like "Wuhan coronavirus" (novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV). (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

The Egyptian government has decided to bar Qataris from Egypt from March 6, including those who have valid residency, amid fears over the coronavirus, the cabinet said on Wednesday.

As the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads to more areas, a health worker checks a man’s temperature at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Duhok, Iraq, last Tuesday./REUTERS

Qatar and Egypt are on opposite sides of a regional rift, and Cairo said it was responding to a similar measure taken by the Gulf state.

“In light of what Qatar has decided regarding prohibiting entry for travelers holding Egyptian nationality as part of the precautionary measures to face the coronavirus, (we have) decided to implement the principle of reciprocity,” the cabinet said, adding the measure would be in place until further notice.

Qatar on Sunday imposed a temporary restriction on entry to its territory on visitors from Egypt via intermediate points because of the virus’s spread. The ban did not specifically mention Egyptian nationals.

Qatar’s government communications office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.