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24 Sep 2020 | 04:45 PM UTC

Saudi Arabia: Authorities suspend flights to Brazil, India, and Argentina September 23 /update 48

Saudi Arabia News Alert

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to Brazil, India, and Argentina on September 23; follow government directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 9/24/2020, 12:00 AM until 10/24/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Riyadh). COUNTRY/REGION Saudi Arabia

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Event

Saudi authorities have suspended flights to and from Brazil, India, and Argentina on Wednesday, September 23, due to the high rates of infection of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in these countries. Unless travelers have an official government invitation, they will also be denied entry into Saudi Arabia if they have been in those countries within the 14 days prior to their arrival.

Some international flight restrictions were lifted from September 15 allowing citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council countries and those with permanent residency permits or visas to enter the country. In addition to allowing the return of citizens and permanent residents via the country's airports, authorities have also announced that travelers who fall into "exceptional categories" will be permitted to enter the country from September 15, including public sector and military employees, diplomats and their families, patients requiring medical treatment abroad, those studying abroad, individuals working in public or non-profit sector jobs abroad, and sports teams.

Saudi authorities have also allowed the gradual resumption of the Umrah pilgrimage from October 4. Only 30 percent of the usual number of pilgrims will be able to attend, representing around 6000 per day. From October 18, the Grand Mosque will be allowed to fill up to 75 percent capacity, including 40,000 worshipers and 15,000 pilgrims. From November 1, pilgrims from abroad will be allowed to perform the Umrah with full capacity.

The Saudi government originally suspended international flights in March but has been easing some travel restrictions in recent weeks. Authorities have announced that all air, land, and sea travel restrictions will be lifted on January 1, 2021.

As of Thursday, September 24, there have been 331,359 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia with 4569 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

 

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