Qatar Airways lays off around 200 staff as coronavirus concerns affect travel

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Qatar Airways laid off around 200 employees, all Filipino nationals based in Qatar, this week as the coronavirus outbreak forces the Middle East carrier slashes flights.

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Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello told Reuters on Wednesday around 200 Filipinos were unexpectedly laid off by the airline, confirming an earlier ABS-CBN report.

“Our labor attache is under strict instructions to determine what is the real cause of the decision of management to retrench them on the basis of redundancy,” he told Reuters.

Qatar Airways did not respond to a request for comment.

The Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways came under fire on Friday for doubting the existence of the deadly coronavirus, an outbreak that the World Health Organization has labeled as a global pandemic.

Qatar announced it was shutting down all shops and bank branches in shopping malls, except for food stores and pharmacies, on Tuesday, in measures aimed at halting the spread of coronavirus.

Salons, barber shops, spas at hotels and retail shops are also closed for the next two weeks.

The emirate also said it was closing down part of its Industrial Area for 14 days.

On the same day, Qatar announced it was closing mosques and suspending communal religious prayers, including Friday prayers, to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The move is in line with other regional countries who have also moved to limit interaction through communal religious practices.

On Monday, the UAE suspended prayer in all houses of worship including mosques across the country for four weeks.

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