New Zealand slams Qatar as Kiwi woman revealed as victim of airport exams

The latest news comes the day after the British government spoke out against two of its nationals also being subjected to strip-searches. (File/AFP)
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Updated 30 October 2020

New Zealand slams Qatar as Kiwi woman revealed as victim of airport exams

  • These latest revelations come just a day after the British government spoke out against a similar incident involving 2 Britons
  • Qatar says the searches were carried out after a baby was left in a bin

WELLINGTON: New Zealand has revealed one of its citizens was among the women subjected to invasive pelvic examinations at Doha airport, labelling the action “completely unacceptable.”
“We were extremely concerned to learn... that a New Zealand national was involved in the appalling incident involving female passengers on several Qatar Airways flights,” the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement late Thursday.
“This action was completely unacceptable. We are making our views known to Qatari authorities and are seeking a full report on what occurred.”

Now Qatar has said it will prosecute those responsible for the searches.
Women on 10 flights out of Doha were subject to the examinations as authorities in the ultra-conservative Gulf state searched for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in an airport bathroom.
The foreign ministry statement provided no details about the New Zealand woman involved, citing privacy concerns.
Qatar said Wednesday it “regrets any distress” over the incident, which occurred in early October but only came to light this week after affected Australian passengers spoke out.
Australia has since said 13 of its citizens had to endure the “appalling” examinations, Britain said it is providing support for two women and AFP has learned a French woman was also affected.
In its first account of events, Qatar said the baby girl was wrapped in plastic and left to die in a bathroom rubbish bin, prompting what sources said was a lockdown of the airport.
Women were then led from aircraft to ambulances on the tarmac where they were subject to cervical examinations to see if they had recently given birth.
Qatar has launched an investigation into the incident, which involved women on 10 flights, and sources say those involved could face criminal prosecution.


Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

Updated 29 November 2020

Lebanon to ease virus curbs from Monday

  • Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online
  • Restaurants will reopen at 50% capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited

BEIRUT: Lebanon is from Monday to gradually ease restrictions imposed two weeks ago after a surge in coronavirus infections, in a bid to relieve its struggling economy in time for the festive season, officials said.
Acting health minister Hamad Hassan told reporters the country “will gradually reopen from Monday” to give citizens and businesses a respite ahead of Christmas and end of year holidays.
He said restaurants will reopen at 50 percent capacity, but bars and nightclubs will remain closed and weddings prohibited, while an overnight curfew will start from 11 p.m. instead of 5pm.
Schools would also reopen but with some classes still held online, Hassan said after a meeting of Lebanon’s coronavirus task force.
He warned that the “danger” of a rise in infections still exists and that the hoped-for results to stem the virus thanks to the curbs would not be known for several days.
Before the two-week restrictions went into force in mid-November, bed occupancy in hospital intensive care units was between 80 and 90 percent while “now it stands at 65-70 percent,” Hassan said.
Since February, the country has recorded more than 125,000 Covid-19 cases, including around 1,000 deaths.
Lebanon, with a population of around six million, had been recording some 11,000 coronavirus infections on average each week before mid-November, according to the health ministry.
A first country-wide lockdown imposed in March was effective in stemming the spread of the virus, before restrictions were gradually lifted as summer beckoned people outdoors.
But the number of cases surged following a monstrous blast at Beirut’s port on August 4 that killed more than 200 people, wounded at least 6,500 and overwhelmed hospitals.
The blast and the pandemic have exacerbated tensions in the Mediterranean country which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.