Oman bars visitors from 'coronavirus countries'

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Oman has barred entry to visitors from countries where the new coronavirus has spread, the foreign ministry said on Twitter on Monday, as the sultanate reported six new cases of the disease.

The ministry added that this comes as a precautionary procedure, and will be applied on all ports including land, sea and air, even if travellers have valid visas.

Oman's ban on travellers comes as the Middle East records over 2,530 cases of the COVID-19 virus across the region.

Similar bans have come into force in the region, including in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom has suspended issuing visas for the umrah pilgrimage, and in Iraq and Iran, where Chinese tourists have been barred from entry.

Entertainment and sporting events across the Gulf region have also been cancelled in a bid to stem the growth of the deadly outbreak.

In the UAE, the music Ultra Festival in Abu Dhabi and the K-pop concert Music Bank in tourist-hub have both been cancelled.

A women's forum and yoga festival in Abu Dhabi and a carnival in Dubai for the Hindu holi festival, all in March, have also been cancelled or rescheduled, Reuters reported.

The epicentre of the outbreak in the Middle East has been Iran, where the virus has killed at least 66 people among 1,501 confirmed cases.

Experts worry Iran's percentage of deaths to infections, now around 3.3 percent, is much higher than other countries, suggesting the number of infections in Iran may be far greater than current figures show.

Iran stands alone in how the virus has affected its government, even compared to hard-hit China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

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