Saudi Arabia Halts International Flights, Closes Land And Sea Ports Over New Fast-Spreading COVID-19 Strain
Saudi Arabia on Sunday halted international flights and suspended entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week, after a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus appeared in Britain.
The kingdom is “temporarily suspending all international flights – except in exceptional cases – for a period of one week, which can be extended by another week depending on the nature of the virus spread”, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
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The decision came after the U.K. warned that a new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”, forcing France, Germany and other European countries to suspend travel from Britain.
United Arab Emirates-based Air Arabia PJSC said it will on Monday halt flights from Morocco to UK until further notice.
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Citing Saudi’s interior ministry, the publication said;
Entry to the kingdom through land and sea ports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by another week.
It added that the suspension does not apply to international aircraft currently in the kingdom, which will be allowed to leave.
SPA said passengers who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Europe – or any country where the new strain was detected – starting December 8 will be required to self isolate for two weeks, and undergo testing.
Neighbouring country, Kuwait also announced a ban on Sunday on passenger flights from Britain over the new strain of the virus.
Alarm bells are ringing across Europe which last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from COVID-19, after it appeared that a more infectious strain of the virus was raging in parts of Britain.
Last week, Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase COVID-19 vaccination programme, after the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.
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Saudi Arabia began lifting coronavirus lockdowns from May. Officials had not imposed any new restrictions since then, and the country has so far avoided another wave of infections.
The Kingdom has so far recorded more than 361,000 coronavirus cases, including more than 6,000 deaths – the highest among the Gulf Arab states, but it has also reported a high recovery rate.