CAIRO - Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended travel of citizens and residents and halted flights with several states due to coronavirus fears, state news agency SPA said on Thursday citing an official source at Interior Ministry.
The decision includes the European Union, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia, source added, saying the Kingdom also suspended entry to those coming from these countries.
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 Philippines and India, and evacuation, shipping and trade trips taking necessary precautions. Saudi Arabia has 45 coronavirus cases.
Saudi Arabia reported 24 new coronavirus cases on early Thursday, bringing the kingdom's total to 45 cases, the state news agency reported, citing the Health Ministry, adding that one patient has recovered.
The 24 new cases include two people who just came back from Iraq, a 12-year-old Saudi child who was in contact with her grandfather who came back from Iran, and 21 Egyptians who had contact with an Egyptian visitor previously reported to have the coronavirus, the news agency reported.
The kingdom has suspended the "umrah" year-round pilgrimage over fears of the disease spreading to Mecca and Medina, raising uncertainty over the upcoming hajj -- a key pillar of Islam.
The pilgrimages, which pack millions of people into relative small religious sites, could be a major source of contagion and the move mirrors a precautionary approach across the Gulf to cancel mass gatherings - from concerts to sporting events.