Saudi Arabia halts international flights over new fast-spreading coronavirus strain

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The suspension does not apply to international aircraft currently in the UK. (Representative)

Riyadh:

Saudi Arabia stopped international flights on Sunday and banned entry through its land and sea ports for at least a week after a new, rapidly spreading strain of coronavirus emerged in the UK.

The kingdom “is temporarily suspending all international flights – except in exceptional cases – for a period of one week, which can be extended for a further week,” said the Saudi official press agency.

“Entry into the kingdom via land and sea ports will also be suspended for a week, which can be extended by a further week,” added SPA, citing the Ministry of the Interior.

The suspension does not apply to international planes currently in the UK that are allowed to depart, SPA said.

The development comes after several European countries banned travel from the UK on Sunday when the UK government warned that a highly contagious new virus strain was “out of control”.

SPA said passengers who came to Saudi Arabia from Europe – or any other country where the new strain was discovered – starting December 8, will have to self-isolate and undergo tests for two weeks.

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Neighboring Kuwait announced on Sunday a ban on passenger flights from the UK because of the new strain of the virus.

Alarm bells are ringing across Europe – which last week marked the first region in the world to kill 500,000 people from Covid-19 – after it was discovered that a more contagious virus strain was raging in parts of the UK.

Last week, Saudi Arabia launched a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination program after the first shipments of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has registered more than 361,000 novel coronavirus cases to date, including more than 6,000 deaths – the highest among the Arab Gulf states. However, the kingdom has also reported a high rate of recovery.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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