Saudi Arabia extends curfew as fight against COVID-19 continues

Police enforcing the curfew order check motorists along a road in Madinah on Saturday. (SPA)
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Updated 12 April 2020

Saudi Arabia extends curfew as fight against COVID-19 continues

  • King Salman has ordered the curfew extension “until further notice” — ministry
  • The Kingdom has registered 3,651 COVID-19 cases, including 47 deaths

RIYADH: King Salman has ordered the extension of curfews across Saudi Arabia “until further notice” as the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 disease continues, the official Saudi Press Agency reported early Sunday.

Quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior, SPA said the King issued the order just before the 21-day curfew measure, which started on March 23, expired at midnight Saturday.

The extension of the curfew measure is meant to ensure that the spread of the coronavirus would be placed under full control, the announcement said.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health on Thursday said the number of COVID-19 cases in the Kingdom has reached 3,651, of which 2,919 were active, including 57 in intensive care.

Some 685 patients had been treated and 47 had died, the ministry said.

The curfew order across the Kingdom was initially from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was then revised to 3 p.m. and until 6 a.m. 

Last week, most of the major cities in the Kingdom were placed under 24-hour curfew after the rule against social distancing was observed to be wantonly ignored.

On Saturday, police have started reporting the arrest of curfew violators. 

The latest arrest involved a man in his 40s, who threatened in a video circulated on social media to move from a region known to have COVID-19 cases to another region still unaffected by the pandemic, SPA reported early Sunday.

Major Sami bin Fahid Al-Shammari, police spokesman for Hail region, said legal measures were taken against the suspect.

A group of Indian residents in Riyadh were also arrested after being caught not only violating the lockdown measure but also for stealing electrical equipment and copper circuit breakers from the country’s government-owned electricity company, Saudi Electric Co. 

Two people were also arrested for violating the curfew hours for the purpose of impersonating security officers and stopping passers-by to take their money, as well as stealing a vehicle.

Likewise, a man who published a video of stores with empty shelves that were being cleaned but spread rumors about a dearth in goods in stores across the country was also arrested for spreading misinformation in the Eastern Province.

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

King Salman chairs the virtual meeting. (SPA)
Updated 30 September 2020

Saudi Cabinet congratulates security forces for thwarting terror cell

  • King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday congratulated the Presidency of State Security for its work in identifying and apprehending the suspected members of a terror cell in the Kingdom.

Some of those who were arrested allegedly trained at sites in Iran run by the country’s Revolutionary Guards. A cache of weapons and explosives was also seized.

Ministers expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the presidency’s employees in tracking down those who threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom and the safety of those who live there.

Majid Al-Qasabi, the acting minister of media, said that while reviewing the latest regional and international developments, cabinet members reiterated the Kingdom’s call during the recent International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference for the international community to adopt a firm stance on Iran, and take steps to address its violations of international agreements relating to its nuclear-research program. They also reaffirmed Saudi support for efforts, in partnership with the international community, to make the Middle East a nuclear weapon-free zone.

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman, who began by passing on his condolences and sympathy to the people of Kuwait and the family of its Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday. He also congratulated the emir’s successor, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

King Salman thanked international leaders and officials for their messages of congratulations to the Kingdom and its people on the occasion of its 90th National Day. He also briefed ministers on his recent telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which the two leaders reviewed bilateral relations and discussed opportunities to further develop them.

The cabinet commended the king for his speech during the UN’s 75th General Assembly in New York, during which he emphasized the his country’s continued commitment to assisting the international community in efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and address its humanitarian and economic implications.

Ministers also noted that his speech reflected the Kingdom’s dedication to security, stability and prosperity as a strategic choice, its call for peaceful coexistence, moderation and solidarity among all countries and peoples to address humanitarian challenges, its support for political solutions to conflicts, and its efforts to combat extremism in all its forms.

Al-Qasabi said that the Cabinet welcomed the announcement by the Kingdom that the G20 Leaders’ Summit will take place as planned as scheduled on Nov. 21 and 22, albeit virtually as a result of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia hold the presidency of the G20 this year.

Ministers also expressed their appreciation for international efforts, led by G20 countries, that have resulted in the provision of more than $21 billion to support the production of diagnostic and therapeutic tools during the pandemic, and the development and distribution of vaccines. In addition, more than $11 trillion has been allocated to protect the global economy, and more than $14 billion to mitigate the debt burdens of less-developed countries and help fund their health services and social programs. The Cabinet also reviewed the latest local and international developments in the pandemic, along with preparations for the safe resumption of Umrah.

Ministers reiterated the Saudi call, during an emergency meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, for urgent action to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea as a result of the deteriorating condition of the oil tanker Safer, which has been anchored off the coast of Yemen, near Ras Issa port, since 2015.

The Cabinet also expressed its concern over developments in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and urged both sides to agree a ceasefire and resolve the conflict peacefully in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.