Saudi Arabia suspends entry from 20 countries over COVID fears

The move comes as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The move will come into force at 9pm (18:00 GMT) [File: Reuters]

Saudi Arabia has suspended entry to the kingdom from 20 countries, with the exception of diplomats, Saudi citizens, and medical practitioners and their families, to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the state news agency reported.

The temporary ban, effective from Wednesday, includes people arriving from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, France, Egypt, Lebanon, India and Pakistan.

“The decision will include those travellers coming from other countries if they passed through any of the 20 banned countries 14 days preceding the request to enter the Kingdom,”  the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday citing an official source at the Interior Ministry.

“Saudi citizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families coming from the mentioned countries or those who transited any of those countries during the 14 days preceding their return to the Kingdom will enter the Kingdom in accordance with the precautionary measures imposed by the Ministry of Health,” the source added.

The move, which will come into force at 9pm (18:00 GMT) comes as part of the kingdom’s precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the statement said.

The kingdom, the largest among the six Gulf Arab states, has recorded more than 368,639 cases and 6,383 deaths so far with 360,110 recoveries.

Countries in the oil-producing region had largely lifted restrictions with the exception of mask-wearing in public and social distancing. In addition to Dubai emirate in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain have recently introduced new measures following an uptick in cases.

All Gulf states have launched immunisation campaigns. The UAE and Bahrain rank second and fourth globally on vaccine rollout per capita of population.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies