The Saudi Ministry of Interior announced that an indefinite 24-hour curfew will be placed into effect in Baish province (Jazan region) as of Tuesday, May 12. The announcement comes amid efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the country. All members of the public will be prohibited from entering or exiting the province; however, essential workers will be allowed to move within the province. Residents and citizens will be allowed to leave their homes for essential errands, such as buying food or medical supplies, between the times of 09:00 to 17:00 (local time). Only one person plus a driver will be allowed in cars to ensure adherence to social-distancing measures. All commercial activities will be suspended, with the exception of health facilities, pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, and banks, among others. It was not immediately reported for how long the measures will be in place.
Also on Tuesday, the interior ministry announced a countrywide 24-hour curfew during the five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday from May 23 through May 27, in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.
On Saturday, May 9, Saudi authorities announced the easing of the total lockdown restrictions that had been introduced in parts of Medina on Friday, April 10, due to COVID-19. Residents of the areas of Ash-Shuraybat, Banidhafar, Qurban, and Al-Jumuah are permitted to leave their homes between 09:00 and 17:00 (local time) as of Saturday. These restrictions have also been eased in parts of Al-Iskan and Bani Khedira.
The Ministry of Interior imposed an indefinite 24-hour lockdown to isolate the 2nd Industrial City area of Dammam (Eastern province) on Saturday, May 2, to contain COVID-19. Under the measures imposed, entry to and exit from the area will be banned until further notice, although movement for shipping and transporting goods are still permitted. Factories and other industries that are considered essential will only be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity.
As of Thursday, April 30, the Saudi government has permitted entry into and exit from Qatif province as part of a series of nationwide relaxations to existing 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 Ramadan period from 09:00 to 17:00. The measure is effective through Wednesday, May 13. A full 24-hour lockdown remains in place in the city of Mecca, as well as the previously quarantined adjacent neighborhoods. The official order allows some economic and commercial activities to open from Wednesday, April 29, to Wednesday, May 13. These activities include wholesalers, 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. Prayers will take place in the country's largest mosques with no worshippers.
As of May 12, health authorities have confirmed 42,925 COVID-19 cases and 264 related deaths nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in 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 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 virus.
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