List of banned countries includes Pakistan and India, but does not include the U.S., despite a dramatic surge in confirmed cases there
Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced it is temporarily suspending all travel to and from countries where the “threat of the spread of the novel coronavirus” exists.
In a statement issued by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, the Gulf kingdom announced that the decision was being taken in “accordance with the preventive and precautionary measures recommended by the competent health authorities.” It said that the measures were designed to “control the virus, prevent its entry and spread, and based on the concern to protect the health of citizens and expatriates and ensure their safety.”
Listing the territories that would be impacted by the decision, Saudi Arabia said it included: “European Union countries, Swiss Confederation, the Republic of India, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Social Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Sudan, and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of South Sudan, the State of Eritrea, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Djibouti, and the Federal Republic of Somalia.” It said the ban would also apply to anyone who had visited these territories for 14 days prior to their arrival in the Gulf kingdom.
Curiously, the Gulf kingdom has not announced any ban on travel between it and the U.S., despite Washington confirming that over 1,200 people have been infected in the U.S.—far in excess of the number of reported cases from the countries listed by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia also suspended passenger traffic through all land crossings with Jordan, while commercial and cargo traffic is still allowed, and the passage of exceptional humanitarian cases. The decision excludes health workers in the kingdom from the Philippines and India, and evacuation, shipping and trade trips that are taken under necessary precautions.
According to the Saudi Press Agency, the kingdom’s decision would come into force in 72 hours, and any citizens or valid residency permit holders would have to return to the kingdom within that time or risk being barred from entry until the emergency measures are revoked.