Saudi Arabia says Iran’s actions have helped spread the coronavirus around the world

Shoppers wearing face masks and gloves in northern Tehran, Iran, where the regime has been accused of covering up the coronavirus epidemic. (AP)
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Updated 06 March 2020

Saudi Arabia says Iran’s actions have helped spread the coronavirus around the world

  • Official condemns Iran for allowing Saudi citizens into the country without stamping their passports
  • Saudis who traveled to Iran must report their travel within 48 hours to avoid legal action

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday said Iran was responsible for increasing the number of coronavirus cases and spreading the outbreak around the world.

An official source accused Iran of “irresponsible actions” for allowing Saudi citizens into the country without stamping their passports during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Iranian officials say 107 people have died from the illness but independent experts say the toll must be much higher amid allegations that the regime has covered up the full scale of the epidemic.

Five people in Saudi Arabia have had coronavirus diagnosed. Three of the cases had returned together from Iran via Bahrain, while the fourth returned via Kuwait and infected his wife.

“These actions are a proof of Iran’s direct responsibility in increasing COVID-19 infections and in the virus’s outbreak all around the world,” an official Saudi source said. “This behavior poses a serious public health threat to the international community and undermines international efforts to combat COVID-19, putting many communities around the world at risk.”

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The official urged all Saudi citizens who had returned from Iran in recent weeks to immediately contact the health ministry by calling 937.

Citizens currently in Iran should also immediately report their travel to Iran upon their arrival back in the Kingdom.
 
If they report their travel to Iran within 48 hours they will not be subjected to the “Travel Documents Law,” the official said.

“The Kingdom is keen on ensuring the safety of all citizens who had visited Iran by providing them with this opportunity and refraining from any legal action against them,” the official said. “Furthermore, the Kingdom is determined to protect the families of those who had traveled to places where there is an outbreak of COVID-19.”

Citizens should not travel to Iran for any reason, the statement said, adding that they face serious legal actions if they do so in the future.

The official called upon Iranian authorities to disclose the identities of Saudi nationals who had illegally visited Iran since the Feb. 1, 

He added that the Iranian authorities would be held fully responsible for all Saudis who did not report their travels and had been infected during their stay in Iran.


Saudi Arabia will ease COVID-19 lockdown from Thursday

Updated 57 min 3 sec ago

Saudi Arabia will ease COVID-19 lockdown from Thursday

  • Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the easing will take place in phases
  • Al-Rabiah said the people of the Kingdom had shown a “high amount of responsibility"

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will begin to ease its COVID-19 lockdown from Thursday.

Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the easing will be done in phases and will depend on reports on the spread of the virus. 

The first phase will begin with expanding capacity to serve "critical patients" and the second phase will include intensifying COVID-19 tests and early detection .

Speaking in a press conference on Monday, the Health Minister said the people of the Kingdom had shown a “high amount of responsibility in practicing social distancing.” 

"After five months since this pandemic have started, where the global health systems faced great difficulties in dealing with it, the society has become today more aware of this virus and implementing the measures of the social distancing, as it is a new experience for all of us," he said in remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency. 

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READ MORE: Saudi crown prince says COVID-19 will pass

Saudi Arabia reports 9 new COVID-19 deaths

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Rabiah said imposing the precautionary measures during an early phase of the pandemic had put the Kingdom in more control of the virus spread.

"We are proud of the Saudi experts in this field who are internationally recognized, and we rely on their experiences in dealing with that virus," he added.  

The minister said that people should continue taking precautionary measures while leaving their homes by using facemasks and hand gloves.

The Health Ministry recorded nine new fatalities and 2,235 new cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom on Monday. The new deaths have increased the virus-related toll in Saudi Arabia to 399 and the total number of confirmed cases to 74,795. 

It also said the number of recoveries has risen to 2,148, raising the total number of recovered cases 45,668.