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.


Notice setting date for Saudi international flights ‘is bogus’

Updated 12 August 2020

Notice setting date for Saudi international flights ‘is bogus’

  • Aviation chiefs issue official denial after fake circular says passengers can fly to and from Kingdom from October

RIYADH: A fake circular suggesting Saudi Arabia will resume international flights in October has been condemned as “completely baseless and fabricated” by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
Rumors that international flights will shortly return have been circulating on social media in recent weeks without any official statement from GACA.
On Tuesday, the authority denied announcing the resumption of international flights and said information being circulated was fabricated.
Saudi Arabia suspended international flights from March 15 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since domestic flights restarted on May 31, rumors have been circulating regarding the return of international flights. On Monday, the bogus GACA circular was shared on various social media platforms suggesting flights into and out of Saudi Arabia would resume in October. It sparked a flurry of speculation.
The circular, titled “No flights till October 2020,” said: “An employee of the GACA has stated in a recent interview that all international flights to and from the Kingdom are to remain suspended till the month of October.” Quoting a GACA official, the circular said that the decision was subject to the number of coronavirus cases, which must “come down to three digits.”
GACA official spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News the circular “is completely baseless and fabricated.”
He shared a tweet from the authority’s public relations department describing the circular as incorrect.
The civil aviation authority has previously said there is no specific date for the resumption of international flights, he added.
All international flights remain suspended until further notice.
However, exceptions have been made for humanitarian assistance and emergency cases, medical evacuation flights and repatriation of stranded citizens and expatriates wanting to return home.