As of Thursday, April 30, the Saudi government will permit entry into and exit from Qatif province as part of a series of nationwide relaxations to existing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. Qatif, located in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, has been under lockdown since March 8.
On Sunday, April 26, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued an order to partially lift the curfew in all regions of the kingdom during the Ramadan period from 09:00 to 17:00 (local time). The measure is effective through Wednesday, May 13. A full 24-hour lockdown remains in place in the cities of Mecca and Medina, as well as the previously quarantined adjacent neighborhoods due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The official order allows some economic and commercial activities to open from Wednesday, April 29, to Wednesday, May 13. These activities include wholesale, retail shops inside shopping centers and malls, as well as factories and contracting companies.
Authorities will continue to impose social distancing measures, which are to be observed at all times. Social gatherings of more than five people remain prohibited, including wedding events and parties. Penalties will be given to those who violate existing restrictions.
A ban on public prayer during Ramadan continues, in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Prayers will take place in the country's largest mosques with no worshippers.
As of Wednesday, April 29, there are 21,402 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the kingdom, with 157 associated deaths. 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) labeled the outbreak as a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble 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 non-essential 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 virus.
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