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Saudi Arabia Locks Down Qatif Region, Suspends Schools over Coronavirus

Saudi Arabia Locks Down Qatif Region, Suspends Schools over Coronavirus

Sunday, 8 March, 2020 - 06:15
Cleaners swipe the floor, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, at the Grand mosque in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia March 3, 2020. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it has imposed a temporary lockdown on the eastern Qatif province to prevent the spread of coronavirus after 11 people there were infected, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

All the individuals who had been diagnosed with the disease in the Kingdom have either been to Iran or interacted with people who visited the country.

The Saudi interior ministry said in a statement that no one would be allowed to enter or exit Qatif and that work at all public and private sectors in the province had been suspended with the exception of institutions providing necessary services.

Commercial supplies would continue to flow to the region, said the statement.

Riyadh also said it was suspending all public and private schools and universities across the country from Monday until further notice, adding that distance learning measures would be implemented.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia will suspend all educational and Koranic activities at mosques from Monday to help prevent the spread of the virus, state television reported.

Iran has emerged as an epicenter for the disease in the Middle East.

Saudi authorities had earlier on Sunday registered four news cases of the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry said three of the new patients contracted the virus after coming in contact with previous declared cases that can be traced to Iran.

The fourth case was detected in a citizen who had travelled to Iran through the United Arab Emirates. He had failed to declare his travel destination to Saudi authorities, said the ministry.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have asked people who have traveled to Lebanon, Egypt, Italy or South Korea to self-quarantine for two weeks from the day of their arrival amid concerns over the coronavirus.

The Saudi Health Ministry has asked people who had visited any of the four countries showing symptoms of the virus to contact the authorities, state media reported.

Riyadh restricted land crossings with neighboring countries on Saturday to commercial trucks only, adding that passenger arrivals will be limited to three airports in the country.

Bahrain’s Health Ministry emphasized that citizens and residents who have visited Lebanon, Egypt, Italy or South Korea should avoid interacting with others to ensure the health and safety of their families and the community.

As of Saturday, Bahrain had confirmed 79 coronavirus cases.

Kuwait on Sunday reported two new patients, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 64.

Qatar reported three new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 15, said the health ministry.

It said the patients had all been abroad before returning to the country.

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