Flight rush to Saudi Arabia as travel ban lifted

Flight rush to Saudi Arabia as travel ban lifted
1 / 2
An interior view of the terminal building at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. (Shutterstock)
Flight rush to Saudi Arabia as travel ban lifted
2 / 2
King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh is home to the national carrier Saudia Airlines. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 04 January 2021

Flight rush to Saudi Arabia as travel ban lifted

Flight rush to Saudi Arabia as travel ban lifted
  • Saudi borders open again after two-week virus freeze

RIYADH: Saudis and expats stranded abroad bombarded travel agents and booking sites with flight requests on Sunday after the Kingdom lifted its latest travel ban.

Entry by air, land and sea had been suspended for two weeks after the discovery in the UK and elsewhere of a new mutant strain of the coronavirus that is 70 percent more infectious than the original.

Travel resumed at 11 a.m. on Sunday, but non-Saudis coming from countries where new variants of the virus had been detected have been asked to stay at least 14 days outside these countries and take a PCR test before entering the Kingdom.

Many expats have been stuck abroad and are still struggling to return to the Kingdom, with available flights in short supply. 

Nasir Jawed, a private sector worker, left the Kingdom early last year to spend time with his family in India, and has been unable to get back since. He is now stranded in Dubai. “First I languished for 10 months in India waiting for the flights to resume,” he said.

“Now, again, when I reached the UAE to return to Saudi Arabia, after remaining in the UAE for 14 days quarantine, flights to Saudi Arabia were again canceled.”

Jawed said he was struggling to have his flight ticket reissued, as were many others. The earliest available Saudia flight to Saudi Arabia was in 16 days, he said, which may be an issue for blue-collar workers who could not afford to stay in hotels.

Other airlines’ flights were also full, Jawed said. “Same conditions, same problems … no flights for the next few days.”

Cases of the new coronavirus variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the UK in September and made public in November, have been growing rapidly.

Cases have been reported in Turkey, Iceland, Jordan, the UAE, Japan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, China, India, Australia, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Chile, Australia and Brazil. South Africa has recorded another strain, known as SARS-CoV-2 501.V2.

Some countries took similar precautionary measures to Saudi Arabia to prevent the spread of the new variants. Although they are more infectious and therefore more transmissible, there is no evidence to suggest that they cause more serious illness or death.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world

Enter


keywords

 


Second doses and safety fears: Popular Saudi doctor posts COVID-19 vaccine video

Second doses and safety fears: Popular Saudi doctor posts COVID-19 vaccine video
Updated 22 min 8 sec ago

Second doses and safety fears: Popular Saudi doctor posts COVID-19 vaccine video

Second doses and safety fears: Popular Saudi doctor posts COVID-19 vaccine video
  • ‘If a person could not get the second dose within 42 days, he or she can still get it after six weeks without having to repeat the first dose,’ says Dr. Nezar

JEDDAH: The latest someone can receive their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine is six weeks after having the first one, a Saudi doctor popular for his COVID-19 social media posts has said.
Infectious diseases consultant Dr. Nezar Bahabri has gained a massive following for his clear and accessible information about the disease, and he tweeted a video to raise awareness about the vaccine as the Kingdom continued its inoculation campaign. 
“If a person, for one reason or another, could not get the second dose within 42 days, he or she can still get it after six weeks without having to repeat the first dose,” he said.
Bahabri, who contracted coronavirus in August and remained under medical care for nearly three weeks, explained that the body began producing antibodies from seven to 10 days after a person received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The consultant said that if someone became infected after receiving the first dose then they should wait for three months before taking another.
“When someone takes the first dose, the antibodies upsurge the body’s immunity to the virus to up to 50 percent, and that can help have less severe symptoms. After the period of 90 days, the infected person can register with the Ministry of Health for vaccination. Tests then can decide if they should take one dose or two.”
In another video he appeared at one of the vaccination centers, accompanying his mother who was receiving her second vaccine shot.
Bahabri, who won an outstanding performance award from the University of British Columbia in 2008, also had advice for those who were undecided about the vaccine.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in Saudi Arabia have received the vaccine over the last month. Thank God, all we heard about them was good and promising.”
He said that more than 20,000 people had volunteered to receive the vaccine three months before the results of its effectiveness were published.
“So far, more than 30 million people around the world have received the vaccine. One should not worry. It has now been nearly six months since the 20,000 people who volunteered to get the vaccine after it was introduced. Most complications occur in four weeks. If the drug was not safe, we could have surely heard about any negative consequences.”
He said that Saudi Arabia’s leadership had set a good example in reassuring people about the vaccine’s safety.
The country on Thursday reported four new COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll has reached 6,342. There were 212 new cases reported, bringing the total to 365,775. There are 2,096 active cases and 326 of these are in a critical condition.
The Ministry of Health said 83 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, there were 39 in the Eastern Province, 35 in Makkah, and 21 in Madinah.
There have been a further 160 recoveries, bringing the total to 357,337.
Saudi Arabia has so far conducted more than 11.87 million PCR tests, with 52,105 carried out in the past 24 hours.