Saudi Arabia suspends travel to 9 nations, jams access to public places

A Saudi tour guide wears a mask due to the coronavirus in front of the historical Salwa Palace in Diriyah outside Riyadh Saudi Arabia. — AP  File

A Saudi tour guide wears a mask due to the coronavirus in front of the historical Salwa Palace in Diriyah outside Riyadh Saudi Arabia. — AP File

Saudi Arabia has suspended travel to several countries to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus after it threatened to fine citizens for hiding their health details and travel history at entry points across the country.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended entry for individuals seeking to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet's Mosque in Madina, as well as tourists traveling from countries where the coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom's health authorities.

Saudi authorities have previously said those infected had visited either Iran or Iraq or been in contact with people who visited those countries, home to Shi'ite holy sites.

The kingdom on Sunday imposed a temporary lockdown on its eastern oil-producing province of Qatif, where the majority of the 15 individuals diagnosed with the disease live.

The kingdom's health ministry also reported four new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total of registered cases to 15. Some have failed to disclose travelling to Iran to the authorities upon returning to Saudi Arabia via other Gulf Arab states.

Man brandishing knives shot dead by police in Westminster
Fatal police shootings in the United Kingdom are rare and recent incidents have mainly been part of responses to terror attacks. Officers remain on scene and updates will follow. "Enquiries into the circumstances remain ongoing".

The Saudi government has reminded its nationals of a standing ban on travel to Iran, as the two countries are locked in a battle for regional supremacy.

'Out of concern to protect the health of citizens and residents and ensure their safety, the kingdom's government made a decision to temporarily suspend the travel, ' an Interior Ministry official said. Other residents reported a rush on grocery shops in Qatif after the lockdown began.

The United States now has 554 confirmed cases of the virus. All public and private schools and universities would also be suspended from Monday until further notice, state media said, adding that distance learning measures would be adopted.

All Gulf Arab states have recorded infections. Kuwait reported two more cases, raising its total to 64, and its central bank announced a 10 million dinar ($32.79 million) fund to support state efforts to fight the virus.

Bahrain s Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled for March 20-22 will be held without spectators, the organisers said Sunday, in the latest sporting event to be affected by measures to contain the disease.

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