KUWAIT: Kuwait has expanded its countries’ ban list for inbound and outbound flights after commercial flights resumed for the first time in months due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation posted the updated list of 31 countries on its official Twitter today following public demand to expand the original list that had only included seven states.

The current list includes the following states commercial flights to and from which have been suspended until further notice: Armenia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, Northern Macedonia, Panama, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka and Syria.

At least three Kuwaiti lawmakers had revealed earlier that the Kuwaiti government suspended the entry of residents from Egypt into the country, among other countries, after a public outcry following the release of a ban list from certain countries due to high COVID-19 risks. DGCA had earlier listed Bangladesh, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iran and Nepal as countries from which residents are not allowed to return to Kuwait when commercial flights resumed on August 1. This raised questions regarding the criteria based on which the countries were chosen, especially since many other countries remain under high COVID-19 threat. Several lawmakers had asked the government to specifically ban flights from Egypt, especially after news emerged that Egypt Air has scheduled 15 flights a week to Kuwait starting August 1, sparking a public outcry on social media, with a dedicated hashtag being the number one trend in Twitter in Kuwait.

MP Safa Al-Hashem had threatened earlier today to file a grilling against His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah “should the flights’ resumption policy contradict with the health ministry’s instructions,” before revealing later that she had received word form the government that the ban list has been expanded to include Egypt among other countries. MPs Abdullah Al-Kandari and Omar Al-Tabtabei also posted on Twitter to confirm the ban on foreign travelers from Egypt.

In the meantime, DGCA denied rumors that some arriving passengers were given exemptions from presenting PCR test certificates, stressing that every passenger who arrives in Kuwait must present a PCR test certificate indicating a negative test result for COVID-19, with 96-hour validity from the test’s date.