Opinion

Saudi Arabia expands travel ban to and from EU, 12 more countries as coronavirus cases in Kingdom jump to 45

The total cases have risen to 45. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Saudi Arabia expands travel ban to and from EU, 12 more countries as coronavirus cases in Kingdom jump to 45

  • Among the 24 new cases are a man and woman returning from Iraq, and a 12-year-old girl whose grandfather recently visited Iran
  • The remaining 21 infected individuals are Egyptians who had been in contact with a countryman who previously tested positive

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday temporarily stopped all travel to and from almost all of Europe and 12 more countries in Asia and Africa as the number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom jumped to 45.

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday said the latest cases include a man and a woman who were tested and placed in quarantine when they returned from Iraq, and a 12-year-old girl in Al-Qatif. It is believed she contracted the virus from her grandfather, who recently returned from a trip to Iran.

The remaining 21 cases involve Egyptians who had contact with a visitor from their home country who previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

Of the 45 people infected by the virus, one has recovered and the rest are in isolation and receiving health care according to accepted and approved practices.

Earlier in the day, the ministry announced the patient who has been given the all clear was the Saudi national who on Mar. 2 was the first to test positive for COVID-19.

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Included in the new travel ban are member-countries of the European Union that had earlier been left out in last Monday's travel ban list, as well as Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia.

A statement by the Saudi Ministry of Interior said Saudi citizens and nationals of the countries covered by the ban who have valid residency in the Kingdom are given 72-hour period to return to Saudi Arabia before the travel suspension decision becomes effective.

Transportation through all land ports with Jordan is also suspended, except for the passage of passengers considered as "humanitarian cases" and except for commercial and cargo traffic.

Excluded in the travel ban are health workers in the Kingdom from Philippines and India, and evacuation, shipping and trade trips taking necessary precautions. 


COUNTRIES IN SAUDI ARABIA'S TEMPORARILY TRAVEL SUSPENSION LIST

MENA Region

1. Bahrain

2. Egypt

3. Iraq

4. Kuwait

5. Lebanon 

6. Oman

7. Syria

8. Turkey

9. UAE


ASIA

1. China
2. India
3. Pakistan
4. Philippines
5. South Korea
6. Sri Lanka 


AFRICA

1. Djibouti
2. Eritrea
3. Ethiopia
4. Kenya
5. Somalia 
6. South Sudan
7. Sudan


EUROPE

1. Austria    
2. Belgium    
3. Bulgaria
4. Croatia    
5. Cyprus
6. Czech Republic
7. Denmark
8. Estonia
9. Finland
10. France
11. Germany
12. Greece    
13. Hungary    
14. Ireland
15. Italy    
16. Latvia
17. Lithuania
18. Luxembourg
19. Malta    
20. Netherlands
21. Poland
22. Portugal
23. Romania    
24. Slovakia
25. Slovenia
26. Spain
27. Sweden
28. Switzerland (non-EU member)


On Monday, the Kingdom suspended travel for citizens and residents to the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Oman, Italy, South Korea, France, Germany, Turkey and Spain.

Since early February, Saudi Arabia suspended travel to and from China, where the COVID-19 started.

The Saudi Health Ministry repeated its call for anyone who recently visited a country in which the coronavirus has spread to immediately contact its service center by calling the toll-free number, 937.

In addition, it urged members of the public who are concerned about the virus, or want more information about it and precautions that can be taken, to contact the ministry. It stressed that only official sources can be relied on to provide accurate information.


Saudi Arabia confirms 154 new coronavirus cases

Updated 31 March 2020

Saudi Arabia confirms 154 new coronavirus cases

  • Sixteen of the new cases had come from abroad

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly on Monday confirmed 154 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Kingdom. Sixteen of the new cases had come from abroad.

“Since their entry into Saudi Arabia, they have been placed in quarantine,” said Al-Aly at the daily press conference held to announce updates on COVID-19 in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia announced free treatment to all COVID-19 patients in both government and private health facilities in the Kingdom.

Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced the royal order and said it included citizens, residents and those in violation of residency laws.

Al-Aly said: “This gesture is undoubtedly — as the health minister stressed — customary in this country. It is a very important humanitarian step. It adds to all the previous steps that the country has taken to give this community the highest levels of protection and health security.”

Al-Aly provided a breakdown of the latest cases. The majority were recorded in Makkah, with 40 cases, followed by Dammam (34), Riyadh (22) and Madinah (22). Jeddah, Hofuf, Khobar, Qatif and Taif all recorded a low number of cases.

Tabuk, Buraidah, Yanbu, Al-Ras, Khamis Mushait, Dhahran, Samtah and Al-Duwadimi reported one case each.

“This brings the total number of registered cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom to 1,453. Most of the patients are in a stable condition and are showing uplifting results,” Al-Aly said.

He said 22 cases are still receiving intensive care, given their critical health conditions. “No additional deaths were recorded and 49 additional cases were treated, bringing the total number of recovering cases to 115,” he added.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases worldwide has reached 734,000. Around 34,000 people have died; 152,000 have recovered.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Talal Al-Shalhoub said that a number of neighborhoods in Makkah will be isolated as a further precautionary measure.

He said the restriction was introduced to limit the spread of the virus in the Kingdom and to preserve the health and safety of citizens and residents.

Al-Shalhoub said the isolation measures would be implemented in Ajyad, Masafi,Misfalah, Al-Hujun, Al-Nakkasa and Hosh Bakr.

He added that the restrictions will be “preventing entry or exit … and preventing touring throughout the day for 24 hours, from 3 p.m. as of March 30 until further notice.”

Residents of the selected Makkah neighborhoods will be allowed to leave their homes for necessities such as health care and groceries “within the scope of the isolation between 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

The ministry said that all activities that have been allowed during curfew hours should be carried out in the strictest limits and in accordance with the procedures and controls determined by the concerned authority.

Saudi intensive care unit patient Moayad Qashqari encouraged all residents to seek medical attention if they experience any symptoms.

Commenting on the royal order, he said: “This is a call for all residents in our country; whether they are residence violators or those whose residency has expired. The hospital doors are opened for them, they will not be rejected if their residency has expired.”

He added: “They will be provided with treatment to go home fully recovered. All residents must take this step to look after their health and the well-being of their families. If it isn’t fatal to one person, it could be fatal to someone else.

“We advise everyone to be cooperative and take responsibility.”
 

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