Saudi Arabia to suspend international flights over virus

A couple wear a protective face mask, as they walk, after Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary lockdown on the province of Qatif, following the spread of coronavirus, in Qatif, Saudi Arabia March 10, 2020. — Reuters pic
A couple wear a protective face mask, as they walk, after Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary lockdown on the province of Qatif, following the spread of coronavirus, in Qatif, Saudi Arabia March 10, 2020. — Reuters pic

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 14 —  Saudi Arabia said Saturday it would suspend international flights for two weeks in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The kingdom’s government decided to suspend international flights for two weeks (starting from Sunday March 15th) as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of #CoronaVirus,” the foreign ministry tweeted.

The halt applies to all but “exceptional cases,” the official Saudi Press Agency said, quoting an official source in the interior ministry.

Citizens and expatriates who are unable to return due to the suspension or who go into quarantine after returning will be granted an “exceptional official holiday,” it added.

Saudi Arabia has recorded 86 cases of the virus so far, but no deaths, according to the health ministry.

The kingdom had already halted flights to some countries and closed schools and universities as part of measures to contain the disease.

Authorities have also suspended the “umrah” year-round pilgrimage to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina for fear of the virus spreading. — AFP

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