Kuwaitis told to avoid European travel over omicron fears

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Kuwait has called on its citizens to avoid travel to several European countries hit hard by the omicron coronavirus variant.

In a series of statements overnight Sunday, the oil-rich Gulf state also urged Kuwaitis already there to return home because of the surge in cases on the continent.

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The foreign ministry said they should “delay their trips” generally and, in particular, to France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.

It also urged its citizens, often big spenders abroad, to leave those countries “considering the significant and unprecedented rise in the number of new cases” of COVID-19.

Europe has in the past few months again become the pandemic’s epicenter and is battling an upsurge of cases spurred on by the highly transmissible omicron strain.

The countries with the highest ratio of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the world were all in Europe, according to an AFP tally on Saturday.

The count showed more than 4.9 million infections reported in Europe over the seven days to January 1, in the region between the Atlantic and Russia.

France alone recorded more than one million new cases during that one-week period.

The number of recorded cases in Kuwait remains relatively low.

But it jumped 20-fold in a month to reach around 600 cases on Sunday in the country of more than four million people.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, cases have also surged.

In the United Arab Emirates, infections have risen almost 40-fold since the beginning of December.

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Saudi Arabia on Sunday said that a booster shot will be required from February 1 for entry into public places.

The kingdom has reimposed social distancing measures at the Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, after recording the highest number of infections in months.

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