JEDDAH: On the directives of King Salman, the General Directorate of Passports on Tuesday extended the exit and re-entry visas of expatriates stranded abroad until July 7 without charging any fee.
The extension applies to residents from countries placed on the red list that currently faces a travel ban due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The visas will be extended automatically and with immediate effect.
The validity of visit visas of people stranded in the Kingdom will also be extended until July 7.
The Directorate of Health Affairs in Riyadh has closed a private medical laboratory accredited for conducting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for those wishing to travel outside the Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health said that it had detected medical samples being transported randomly. After seizing the samples and tracking their virtual journey, they led to the Riyadh laboratory where several violations including posting negative results of samples that had not reached the laboratory.
Other violations included not adhering to precautionary procedures put in place to fight the pandemic, contracting with too many medical institutions resulting in receiving more samples per day than able to process, as well as several other violations that necessitated the closure of the laboratory.
The ministry added that the laboratory could face fines, suspension of its license, a ban from obtaining another license for two years, or permanent closure.
The ministry frequently conducts periodic and unplanned inspections of laboratory facilities, covering all regions of the Kingdom, daily.
It also responds to all reports and communications over alleged violations received from citizens on the toll free number 973.
Dr. Abdullah Assiri, assistant deputy minister of preventive health, said on his Twitter account that the Kingdom was seeking to reach herd immunity as soon as possible while providing maximum protection for high-risk groups.
“The interim goals are to vaccinate 70 percent of those aged 18 years and above — at least one dose — by the end of July 2021, (and) schedule the second dose within three months of the first dose for high-risk groups,” he added.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday reported 17 more coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related deaths, taking the overall toll to 7,488.
There were 1,261 new cases, meaning that 459,968 people in the country have contracted the disease. A total of 9,698 cases remained active, with 1,580 patients in critical condition.
The ministry said 922 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 442,782.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 19,929,037 PCR tests, with 92,398 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Meanwhile, 15,130,213 people in the country have received a jab against COVID-19 to date.