March 4, 2020 / 12:45 PM / a month ago

Egypt bars Qataris over coronavirus fears

CAIRO (Reuters) - 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.

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.

Egypt, alongside three Gulf countries, severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants in the worst crisis among Arab states in years. Doha denies the accusations.

While citizens from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were recalled to their home countries due to the rift, Egyptians, who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar, have remained and comprise a sizeable portion of the small but wealthy country’s workforce.

Qatar has so far confirmed eight cases of coronavirus, while Egypt has two.

Reporting by Moamen Saeed Atallah in Cairo and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Mark Heinrich

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