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Coronavirus: King Salman issues directive to allow Saudis to return to the Kingdom

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued on Sunday directives for the foreign minister to work on procedures that will allow Saudi citizens to return to the Kingdom following the suspension of flights around the world amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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The priority will be given to citizens who are in countries that have been most affected by the virus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Saudi citizens who wish to be repatriated can use a hotline provided by the ministry for any inquiries or assistance they may need.

The Kingdom has suspended flights to 39 countries in early March, including to the European Union countries, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia.

Flights to Oman, France, Germany, Turkey, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Italy, and South Korea have also been halted.

Read more: Coronavirus: Saudi’s King Salman orders $2.39 bln aid to affected citizens

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry that registration for the return of citizens to the Kingdom will begin next Sunday, April 12, and will continue for five days. Priority will be given to Saudi Arabian citizens who are in countries most affected by the spread of the coronavirus, the elderly, and pregnant women.

Authorities said that in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, citizens returning to Saudi Arabia will be subjected to 14 days of isolation as a precautionary measure. Authorities added that 11,000 hotel rooms are being prepared to accommodate the returning citizens from abroad.

Saudi Arabia has reported 2,385 cases of coronavirus, and 34 virus-related deaths as of April 5.

Read more: Coronavirus: Saudi Airlines to operate exceptional flights to return British citizens

Saudi Arabia on Saturday quarantined seven neighborhoods in the Jeddah governorate to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Pilgrimage for national and foreign worshippers was suspended last month, and Saudi Arabia has asked Muslims around the world to be patient and delay their plans for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages amid uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Kingdom’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah.