Saudi Arabia announces first case of coronavirus

The Kingdom's health ministry said it sent an infection control team immediately to check on the citizen. (Screenshot/Ministry of Health)
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Updated 03 March 2020

Saudi Arabia announces first case of coronavirus

  • Kingdom's health ministry sent an infection control team immediately
  • Virus identified in Saudi citizen traveling from Iran through Bahrain

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported its first case of the new coronavirus on Monday amid growing fears that a surge in the number of those infected in Iran is threatening the whole region.

The Kingdom had been free of the virus for more than three months as it spread from China to 66 countries.

Almost all those infected in the Middle East have recently traveled to Iran, or have been in contact with someone who has been there.

The Saudi virus patient traveled from Iran via Bahrain over the King Fahad Causeway, the Health Ministry said on Monday.  The man is in quarantine and all those he has been in contact with are being tested.

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READ MORE - LIVE: Middle East on high alert as Jordan, Tunisia announce first cases of coronavirus

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In Iran, the number of those infected rose by 523 to 1,501, and the death toll from the virus rose from 54 to 66. 

Among the dead was Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, a member of the  Expediency Council, the powerful body that advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and settles disputes with parliament.

The virus has killed more people in Iran than anywhere except China. A team from the World Health Organization arrived in Tehran on Monday with medical supplies, protective equipment for health care workers and laboratory kits to test nearly 100,000 people.

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Elsewhere in the region, virus cases were reported for the first time in Tunisia and Jordan, and there were 10 new cases in Kuwait, six each in Iraq and Bahrain, four more in Qatar, three in Lebanon, two in Iraq and a second case in Egypt.

Worldwide, the virus has infected at least 89,000 people and killed more than 3,000, mostly in China. Outside China there have been more than 8,800 cases and 130 deaths, with secondary outbreaks in Iran and northern Italy.

The first new cases were reported on Monday in Andorra, Armenia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Iceland
and Indonesia.


Saudi envoy to UK calls for more cooperation amid pandemic

Updated 18 min 51 sec ago

Saudi envoy to UK calls for more cooperation amid pandemic

  • Prince Khalid said the Saudi economy is performing better than some expected

LONDON: Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud has called for greater cooperation between the two kingdoms amid the coronavirus crisis.

Writing in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the envoy said Saudi Arabia and the UK “have lost too many people to the virus,” and referred to the similarities between the two nations in their moves to secure the long-term strength of their economies.

Prince Khalid said Britain and Saudi Arabia enjoy a close relationship, and he feels “very strongly that our two nations can help each other meet the challenges of these very difficult times.”

He added that many Britons work in Saudi companies and vice versa, and while the links between the two kingdoms have often revolved around business, the liberalized leisure opportunities brought about by the Vision 2030 reform plan will make for a rise in tourism and travel. 

Prince Khalid said the Saudi economy is performing better than some expected. Praising his country’s move to privatize Saudi Aramco, he said share prices in the company have reached pre-COVID-19 levels.

But as openness and thriving business and tourism relationships have grown between the Middle East and the West, the envoy expressed fears that some are threatening to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to erect barriers worldwide. 

This cannot “be the legacy of corona,” he said. “We can’t allow a division to emerge between East and West, we must all work together to build a prosperous open global trading legacy.

“Britain and Saudi Arabia, as countries that in different ways are both dependent on global trade, must work together to make sure that the world makes the right choice.”