Authorities in Saudi Arabia extended curfew hours on Monday, April 6, to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Kingdom. A 24-hour curfew is in effect for the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dharan, and Hofuf, as well as the province of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar. During the curfew, only vital workers will be allowed to enter or exit the affected areas. Residents may only leave their homes for medical needs or food between the hours of 06:00 and 15:00 (local time). A similar 24-hour curfew remains in effect for Mecca and Medina.
An indefinite suspension of international passenger flights is in place as of Monday, as well as a temporary suspension of domestic flights, public buses, and some taxi and train service. Only businesses providing vital food, health, or utility services will remain operational. Malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and public parks are also closed.
As of April 6, 2605 case of COVID-19 and 38 associated fatalities have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
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 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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