Saudi Arabia Suspends All Flights as Coronavirus Measures Stepped up


Clarion India

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights for two weeks from Sunday as it steps up measures to deal with the global spread of coronavirus.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted an interior ministry source as saying that all nationals and residents stranded outside the country or asked to quarantine when they return to the kingdom would not be penalized for missing work or education as the time will be considered an exceptional official holiday.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia announced a further 24 cases of coronavirus, officially called Covid-19, bringing the total to 86 with one recovery.

Fourteen of the new cases were Egyptian nationals.

There are more than 132,000 confirmed cases in 123 countries and had already hit the “tragic milestone” of 5,000 deaths, the World Health Organization said on Friday. An estimated 65,000 people who had the virus have recovered.

It comes after the kingdom shut off all entry and exit from the province of Qatif on March 8 as most of the domestic cases were in the area.

However, a number of other cases have been found in transiting passengers or foreign nationals outside the western region.

In Qatif, worshippers went online to listen to sermons, families stocked up on groceries and shoppers bought hand sanitizers and masks as they adjust to live in isolation from the rest of Saudi Arabia.

The government assured residents that although most businesses and government offices would close, shops would still trade, hospitals and clinics operate as usual and supplies and food would be transported as normal.

Vigilance against the infection appears high.

Abu Ali and his family watched a religious sermon on their mobiles instead of gathering with other worshippers.


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