On Friday, April 17, the Ministry of Interior announced the implementation of a 24-hour curfew in Samtah and Al Dayer districts (Jizan province) in efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The curfew was brought in with immediate effect and will be effective until further notice. Under the restrictions, individuals will be prohibited from entering or leaving the districts and will only be able to leave their homes for essential purposes between 06:00 to 15:00 (local time). All but essential commercial activities are prohibited during the duration of the restrictions.
On Sunday, April 12, King Salman announced that the kingdom's ongoing nationwide curfew will be extended until further notice, leaving in place current containment measures. Authorities initially announced a 21-day nationwide curfew on Monday, March 23. The ban on movement into and out of Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca, and Medina continues and travel between all 13 provinces is prohibited. An indefinite suspension of international passenger flights is in place, as well as a temporary suspension of domestic flights, public buses, and some taxi and train service. Only businesses providing vital food, health, or utility services will remain operational. Malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and public parks are also closed.
An indefinite 24-hour curfew is in effect for the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, Hofuf, Mecca, and Medina, as well as the provinces of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar. During the curfew, only vital workers will be allowed to enter or exit the affected areas.
A complete lockdown remains in place in six districts of Medina as of Saturday, April 18, until further notice. Measures have been imposed on ash-Shuraybat, Qurban, al-Jumuah, Banidhafar, some areas of al-Iskan, and Bani Khidrah. All movement is restricted in those areas, and residents are prohibited from circulating outside their homes. Delivery services will remain operational to provide basic necessities.
As of Saturday, April 18, there have been 7142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the kingdom, with 87 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled the outbreak as a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.