The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday banned all flights to and from Iran over the outbreak of the new coronavirus, just a day after its spread from the Islamic Republic was announced across multiple Mideast nations. Iran meanwhile raised the official death toll from the virus to 15 killed amid 95 confirmed infections.
The UAE, home to long-haul carriers Emirates and Etihad, remains a key international transit route for Iran’s 80 million people. The flight ban, which will last at least a week, shows the growing concern over the spread of the virus in Iran amid worries the outbreak may be larger than what authorities there now acknowledge.
The Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority made the announcement via the country’s state-run WAM news agency, just hours after Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, said there would be restrictions on flights there.
“All passenger and cargo aircraft traveling to and from Iran will be suspended for a period of one week, and could be up for extension,” the authority said. “The decision is a precautionary measure undertaken by the UAE to ensure strict monitoring and prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus.”
Emirates, the government-owned carrier based in Dubai, flies daily to Tehran. Its low-cost sister airline, FlyDubai, flies to multiple Iranian cities, as does the Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia.
The announcement came after Bahrain said it would suspend all flights from Dubai and Sharjah, a neighboring UAE emirate that is home to Air Arabia, for 48 hours.
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