Saudi Arabia on Tuesday banned expatriates from traveling to the Kingdom from 20 countries to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Exceptions to the ban, which begins at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, are diplomats, and medical staff and their families as reported by Arab News.
Travel will be banned from the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey, as well as the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Japan. The ban also applies to travelers who transited through any of the 20 countries in the 14 days before a planned visit to the Kingdom. Many passengers had been using Dubai as a transit hub from countries where there are no direct flights to Saudi Arabia, an option that is now no longer available. The new action comes amid a global surge in cases of COVID-19 linked to variations in the original coronavirus, first detected in England, South Africa and Brazil, and fears that vaccines being rolled out worldwide may be less effective against them.
Health officials in the Kingdom warned this week that stricter measures would be necessary to curb the spread of the virus if the public continued to flout regulations on social distancing and a ban on large gatherings. Saudi Arabia reported 310 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, almost four times the number a month ago.