Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia suspends all international commercial flights for a week

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Saudi Arabia will suspend all international commercial flights and suspend entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports for a week, amid the latest global developments of the coronavirus pandemic and the appearance of the new mutated strain of COVID-19 in the UK and other EU countries, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.

The new international travel restrictions are precautions based on the recommendations of the Ministry of Health in light of the emergence of new COVID-19 mutation.

Visit our dedicated coronavirus site here for all the latest updates.

A new coronavirus variant, which appears to have increased transmissibility, has started circulating in the UK. Outside Britain, nine cases of the new strain have been reported in Denmark, as well as one case in the Netherlands and another in Australia, according to the WHO.

The WHO noted "preliminary signs that the variant may be able to spread more easily between people" and "preliminary information that the variant may affect (the) performance of some diagnostic assays (tests)."

The new strain's scientific name is VUI 202012/01, with VUI standing for Variant Under Investigation.

Several EU countries - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands - have announced the suspension of air links, and in some cases rail and ferry links, with Britain.

Saudi Arabia's government decided to implement the following precautions:

Suspend all international flights for travelers - except in exceptional cases - temporarily for a week, which can be extended for another week, with the exception of foreign flights currently inside the Kingdom's territory, which are allowed to leave.

Temporarily suspend entry to the Kingdom through land and sea ports for one week, which may be extended another week.

Any individual who has returned from EU countries or any country where the new mutation has been detected, starting from December 8, must self isolate for two weeks from the date of entering the Kingdom, and must undergo a coronavirus test during islation and repeat the test every five days.

All individuals who have returned from an EU country or any country where the new mutation has been detected or passed through one of those countries in transit during the past three months, must undergo a coronavirus test.

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