Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to 9 Countries

Published March 9th, 2020 - 08:22 GMT
Saudi Arabia Halts Travel to 9 Countries
The lockdown is not expected to have any impact on Saudi oil production, two industry sources said. (Shutterstock)
Highlights
The nine countries are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq.

Saudi Arabia has suspended travel to nine countries for its citizens and residents amid coronavirus fears and suspended the entry of people from those countries or anyone who has been there in the past 14 days, the state news agency reported early on Monday, quoting a source in the Interior Ministry.

The nine countries are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq.

The source said that all flights and naval trips between the Kingdom and the countries would also be suspended, not including evacuations and trade trips.

The kingdom's health ministry also reported four new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total of registered cases to 15.

The ministry added that new cases include 1 Saudi national, 2 Bahrainis and 1 American.

Temporary lockdown

The interior ministry on Sunday announced a temporary lockdown on the eastern oil-producing province of Qatif, home to all 11 people in the kingdom who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and suspended all schools and universities nationwide.

The lockdown is not expected to have any impact on Saudi oil production, two industry sources said.

But the decision could stir resentment in Qatif, which has been a flashpoint between the Sunni-dominated Saudi government and minority Shias who have complained of discrimination and marginalisation, charges the government denies.

Saudi authorities have previously said those infected have either been to Iran or Iraq or had contact with people who visited those countries, home to Shia holy sites.

The Saudi interior ministry said it suspended movement into and out of Qatif while ensuring returning residents could reach their homes and that commercial supplies to the province continue.

“Work at all public and private institutions is halted as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the disease, with the exception of vital facilities that provide security services and necessary provisions,” a ministry statement said.

Cement blocks were placed on the main road to Qatif, one resident said. Other residents reported a rush to grocery shops in Qatif after the lockdown began.

The health ministry said the newly diagnosed people, three of whom are women, had contact with a person with the virus who was reported to have returned from Iran via the United Arab Emirates but did not disclose his visit to the authorities.

Other measures

Riyadh also announced other precautionary measures on Sunday, including suspending all educational and Quranic activities in mosques in the country, the birthplace of Islam.

All public and private schools and universities would also be suspended from Monday until further notice, state media said, adding that distance learning measures would be implemented.

Access to public places like malls, restaurants and sporting events will be restricted.

The new Saudi Games, billed as the country’s largest sporting event, due to start on March 23, have been postponed until further notice.


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