A family wear protective face masks, as they arrive at a makehsift coronavirus testing centre at the Mishref Fair Grounds in Kuwait City on Thursday. Reuters
"The doors of the mosques will stay closed," said the ministry of religious endowment in a statement, citing a religious decree, or fatwa. "The fatwa removes the need to attend prayers on Friday in mosques, and authorities having them at home, to protect the people from coronavirus."
Kuwait confirmed 20 additional cases in the past 24 hours, reporting a total of 100 to Friday, the state news agency KUNA said.
A father puts a protective face mask on his son face, before entering a makeshift coronavirus testing centre at the Mishref Fair Grounds in Kuwait City. Reuters
The government announced on Wednesday that passenger flights will be cancelled for an undetermined period starting at midnight on Friday to and from Kuwait's only international airport.
The measures also provide for a two-week public holiday, ending on March 29, and the closure of gyms, public gardens and the popular Friday market. Restaurants and coffee shops are only allowed to keep delivery services open.
Vital services, including oil production, are excluded from the ruling. Kuwait National Petroleum said on Friday strategic reserves of oil products were at a "safe" level and all measures taken to deal with emergencies.
Bahrain ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners, according to the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) which linked the decision to efforts to contain the virus.
Healthy ministry workers prepare to scan expatriates living in Kuwait who returned from Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, as they arrive to a specified place to be tested for coronavirus. AFP
King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a decree granting pardon for 901 prisoners. A further 585 prisoners will spend the remainder of their sentences in rehabilitation and training programmes, the state-run Bahrain news agency reported.
Dozens more cases of coronavirus have been registered in the Gulf Arab states over the past 24 hours. Saudi Arabia reported 17 additional cases taking its total to 62.
More than 700 infections have been reported to Friday in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. No deaths have been announced so far. Authorities say most of those infected had travelled to Iran, the regional epicentre of the outbreak, or been in contact with returnees.
The legislation provides federal public health agencies with money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments and helps state and local governments prepare and respond to the threat. The rapid spread of the virus has rocked financial markets, interrupted travel and threatens to affect everyday life in the United States.
India has also closed a border with neighbouring Myanmar to counter the coronavirus outbreak, as countries across South Asia reported a rise in cases on Wednesday. No cases have so far been confirmed in Myanmar.
The embassy noted that it coordinated with UAE national carriers Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways and Saudi national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines to operate flights for the next 72 hours according to the announced schedule. It commended in this regard the notable cooperation shown by officials of the national carriers in question.
Coronavirus concerns led Saudi Arabia to cut off air and sea travel with Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The kingdom had earlier closed off its land borders as well.
Taiwan scrambled fighter jets on Friday as 18 Chinese aircraft buzzed the island, including crossing the sensitive mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, in an escalation of tensions as a senior US official held talks in Taipei.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed and another was wounded after Kurdish militants fired rockets at a military base in northern Iraq, Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
Australia said on Friday it would increase the number of citizens allowed to return home each week to 6,000 as it manages to get new COVID-19 infections under control.