RIYADH: Swedish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouve on Wednesday praised Saudi authorities for their help in repatriating Swedish nationals in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to Arab News, Trouve said that about 50 Swedes had left the Kingdom on special flights provided by the embassy.
“The embassy has been working intensively in the past couple of weeks to inform and assist all Swedes in the Kingdom about the coronavirus restrictions and the possibilities of returning home,” he said.
“We have stressed that everyone should think carefully before deciding to travel at all,” the envoy said.
Priority has been given to tourists who have been stranded and are unable to travel back without assistance, and those belonging to certain risk groups, Trouve said.
Swedes who remained in the Kingdom after travel bans were announced had been offered a chance to leave on special commercial flights, Trouve said.
Travelers booked and paid for tickets, although the embassy helped with flight arrangements, he added.
The envoy voiced his gratitude to Saudi Arabian Airlines and the Saudi authorities for making the flights possible.
Trouve said: “Some weeks have already passed and we are all getting used to the new normal, to a more limited space, with fewer social contacts, and with new ways of working from home by WhatsApp and Skype meetings.
“All of us have to make the best out of where we are. However, we all share one important task: Not to contribute to the further spreading of this deadly virus. We should all avoid unnecessary traveling and moving around, and we need to respect the restrictions put in place to protect us all,” he said.
“The curfew is tough, but it will help us to keep safe — and it will not last forever. So let’s respect it,” he added.
“No one can fight this alone, but together we will prevail and survive.”
Trouve also voiced concern about the spread of fake news and propaganda in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
“This is certainly not the time for political or religious divisions; this is the time for global cooperation, dialogue and solidarity,” he said.
“Hopefully, this crisis will teach us that we need more global cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. If so, we should use this lesson carefully to deal with other global challenges like conflicts, climate change and poverty. Let’s turn the crisis into an opportunity.”