In recent days the World Health Organisation commended Bahrain’s measures to respond to Coronavirus and protect the public. In late February the virus spread widely across the region among pilgrims returning from Iran; including Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman.

As of 11 March, a total of 195 cases have been recorded. Although one case is reportedly in a critical condition; the majority of cases have been reported as stable, with 35 cases that have made full recovery. According to the Ministry of Health, almost all these cases were individuals who had been infected overseas, with only five cases of infection inside the Kingdom being logged. Nearly 8,000 citizens have already been tested.

Along with numerous other states which have had to cancel or postpone major sporting events and public gatherings; organizers of the 2020 Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix have announced that the race will continue to go ahead, but the event will only be televized. Spectators won’t be able to attend and those who have bought tickets will be refunded.

All travel has been banned to Iran and all recent visitors to Iran are in the process of being tested. On 10 March, the first batch of Bahraini nationals stranded in Iran were repatriated. Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, Gulf Air has suspended all flights to and from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s borders with Bahrain and Kuwait have been closed, although trucks are still allowed to cross.

A recent press conference by health professionals stressed the priority of protecting the public and ensuring international standards of best practice in confronting the outbreak. Medical staff across the Kingdom were praised for their exceptional efforts in combatting this unprecedented challenge.

The official response to these challenges has relied on mobile testing units and a dedicated hotline (444). Individuals returning from states like Lebanon, Egypt, South Korea and Italy, where there have been major outbreaks, have been urged to isolate themselves and contact the medical authorities for testing.

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