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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends parental visitation rulings

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz suspended final rulings and judicial orders on visitation rights of children of separated parents in the latest effort to try and curb the spread of the novel coronavirus among households, according to state media reports.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency said Wednesday that parents were notified of the changes by text message, the latest measure by the Kingdom to stem the rising number of new infections as a nearly nationwide 24-hour curfew takes place.

Saudi Arabia has 2,750 confirmed cases of the virus, including 41 deaths. This week, the Kingdom began imposing a 24-hour curfew in the capital, Riyadh, and several other cities, including Jeddah and Mecca. It has already barred travel to and from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, suspended prayers at mosques and closed Islam’s holiest sites to pilgrims to limit infections.

A Saudi man wearing a protective mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease in Riyadh on March 15, 2020. (AFP)
A Saudi man wearing a protective mask as a precaution against COVID-19 coronavirus disease in Riyadh on March 15, 2020. (AFP)

King Salman on Tuesday also ordered the temporary release from prison of people serving sentences related to unpaid private debts and ordered the suspension of all rulings related to such cases. The government did not say how many detainees would be affected.

Saudi media quoted the country’s Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah on Tuesday as warning that between 10,000 to 200,000 people could be infected with the virus in the Kingdom within weeks, based on four different expert studies.

There are 128,000 cases across much of the Middle East, with Iran the hardest-hit country in the region.

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