Dubai: Saudi Arabia has announced to suspend flights to several countries including Pakistan and India to prevent coronavirus spread, after announcing 24 new cases overnight to bring its total to 45, state media reported on Thursday.
The Saudi government has temporarily suspended travel of citizens and residents and halted flights with several states due to coronavirus fears, state news agency SPA said on Thursday citing an official source at Interior Ministry.
The decision includes the European Union, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia, source added, saying the Kingdom also suspended entry to those coming from these countries, reported Reuters.
Citizens and residents in the affected jurisdictions have 72 hours to return to the kingdom, state news agency SPA said, citing an official source at the Interior Ministry.
Saudi Arabia also suspended passenger traffic through all land crossings with Jordan, while commercial and cargo traffic is still allowed, and the passage of exceptional humanitarian cases.
The decision excludes health workers in the Kingdom from Philippines and India, and evacuation, shipping and trade trips taking necessary precautions. Saudi Arabia has 45 coronavirus cases.
The kingdom had already banned travel to some 19 countries, including neighbouring Arab states, and said it would impose a fine of up to 500,000 riyals (Dh 24700) on people who did not disclose health information and travel details at entry points.
Other preventive measures include locking down the oil-producing region of Qatif, where many of its cases are centred, suspending the Umrah pilgrimage, closing schools and cinemas nationwide, cancelling conferences and sporting events, and postponing a G20 ministerial meeting scheduled for next week.
Saudi Arabia has already banned citizens and residents from performing pilgrimage in Mecca over fears of coronavirus
The rare step by the kingdom, which hosts Islam’s holiest sites, expands on restrictions introduced last week for Muslim pilgrims from abroad making the same religious trips and limiting the entry of tourists.
Across the Mideast, the vast majority of the 9,700 people who have contracted the coronavirus are in hard-hit Iran or had recently returned from there.