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A photographer wears a medical mask and gloves as he covers ongoing protests against the Lebanese government in front of the Lebanese Ministry of Health, in Beirut February 26. Lebanon confirmed its fourth case of the disease on Friday. Image Credit: AP

Beirut: Saudi Arabia called on its citizens and residents to postpone travel to Lebanon over concerns of the spread of coronavirus, the Saudi embassy in Lebanon said on Twitter on Saturday.

Lebanon confirmed its fourth case of the virus on Friday and announced that it was closing all schools until March 8.

This came as Bahrain on Saturday threatened legal prosecution against travellers who came from Iran and hadn’t been tested for the new coronavirus, and also barred public gatherings for two weeks as confirmed cases across the wider Mideast grew to over 520.

Bahrain has been hard-hit with cases and shut down flights to halt the spread of the virus, which causes the illness named COVID-19 by experts.

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Muslims living in Bahrain wear protective masks during Friday prayers.

All of Bahrain’s cases link back to Iran, whose death toll of 34 killed is the worst outside of China, the epicentre of the virus. Iran alone has 388 cases of the virus, including top officials, and experts fear that number may be far greater, something Iranian officials themselves have begun to hint.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that 2,292 people had come to the kingdom from Iran before the announcement of the outbreak there. Of those, only “310 citizens” had called authorities and undergone testing, the ministry said, raising the possibility of the untested being arrested and charged if they refuse.

The ministry “affirmed that the required legal proceedings would be taken against anyone who returned from Iran in February and didn’t call to make appointments for the tests,” the Interior Ministry said. “It highlighted that preventing the outbreak of the infection is the responsibility of individuals and society as a whole.”