Saudi Arabia has extended flight and travel bans to countries include the European Union, Asian and six eastern African countries as it moves in to contain the Covid-19 infection popularly known as Coronavirus
A list of Countries banned from travelling to Saudi Arabia now include Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Saudi Arabia announced 24 new cases overnight to bring its total to 45. One person from the 45 who are under isolation is said to have recovered from the infection while the rest are receiving the necessary healthcare.
The new ban came as World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the Coronavirus a global pandemic.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterised as a pandemic,” said WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus in a media briefing on Wednesday evening.
There are now more than 118 000 cases in 114 countries and 4 291 people have lost their lives.
Passenger traffic through all land crossings with Jordan was also suspended, while commercial and cargo traffic is still allowed.
Saudi Arabia has taken measures to curb the spread of the virus including suspending education, banning religious lessons at all mosques and limiting Friday prayer sermons to 15 minutes.
Other preventive measures include locking down the oil-producing region of Qatif, where many of its cases are centred, suspending the Umrah pilgrimage, closing schools and cinemas nationwide, cancelling conferences and sporting events, and postponing a G20 ministerial meeting scheduled for next week.
Millions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia come from many of those countries.
The WHO has recommended four key areas for countries to focus on – preparation, detection, protect and treat, reduce transmission and innovate and learn.