DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait’s religious authorities asked Muslims to pray at home on Friday as Gulf Arab states stepped up measures to fight the spread of the new coronavirus.
Bahrain ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners on Thursday, in one of the biggest pardons since the 2011 uprising against the monarchy, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) which linked the decision to efforts to contain the virus.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a decree granting pardon for 901 prisoners. A further 585 prisoners will spend the remainder of their sentences in rehabilitation and training programs, the state-run Bahrain news agency reported.
Dozens more cases of coronavirus have been registered in the Gulf Arab states over the past 24 hours. Saudi Arabia reported 17 additional cases taking its total to 62.
More than 700 infections have been reported to Friday in the six-nation Arab Cooperation Council. No deaths have been announced so far. Authorities say most of those infected had travelled to Iran, the regional epicentre of the outbreak, or been in contact with returnees.
Iran reported 429 deaths and a total of 10,075 cases on Thursday.
Qatar has 262 cases, Bahrain 195 and the United Arab Emirates 85.
In the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways announced the suspension of flights to and from Rome and Milan on Friday, from March 14. The death toll in Italy passed 1,000, in Europe’s deadliest outbreak.
Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Janet Lawrence