Saudi Arabia has placed a temporary ban on travel to and from a number of countries, including India, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The government of Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced that the temporary travel ban will be extended to its citizens and expatriates.
According to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the official news agency of Saudi Arabia, its government has suspended flights to and from India, the member-countries of European Union, Switzerland, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia.
According to SPA, citizens, expatriates and foreigners who were in these above list of countries 14 days prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia will also not be allowed to enter.
However, Indian and Philippines nationals who are working as health practitioners in Saudi Arabia have been exempted from this temporary ban, although they must take all necessary precautions. Evacuation, shipping and trade trips, too, have been exempted from the decision.
Citing an official from the Interior Ministry, the state news agency reported that the citizens and those with valid residency have 72 hours to return to Saudi Arabia, â€śbefore the travel suspension decision becomes effectiveâ€ť.
This comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 as a pandemic â€” the global spread of a new disease. Saudi Arabia has reported 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, with 21 new cases being reported early Wednesday.
The Ministry of Interior had also suspended travel of its citizens and residents to Oman, France, Germany, Turkey and Spain.
On March 9, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), which is the national carrier airline of the country, temporarily suspended flights to/from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Egypt and Italy. The airline had said that the existing booking to these destinations will be cancelled and refunded without penalty. The airlines will continue flight operations from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris till March 13.
Meanwhile, Kuwait International Airport has suspended all commercial flight operations in light of the COVD-19 outbreak. As of now, the suspension is indefinite.
On March 8, Qatar temporarily suspended travel from several countries, including India, Iran, South Korea, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand, from March 9. Qatar Airways also suspended flight to and from Italy, which has been severely affected by coronavirus.
The Ministry, in a statement, had said that â€śthe decision affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitorsâ€ť.
TNM is live with Dr. Vijayalakshmi, a senior consultant on Infectious Diseases at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai. She will be your answering questions on #Coronavirus. Send them in here.Posted by TheNewsMinute on Monday, March 9, 2020