Saudi Arabia isolates key province in coronavirus outbreak


ISTANBUL — Saudi Arabia suspended travel to and from a key eastern province and ordered businesses and government offices there closed after confirming four new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections to 11.

Authorities temporarily restricted traffic in and out of Qatif province, state media reported, quoting an official at the Interior Ministry. The official told the Saudi Press Agency that the measures were being taken to “prevent the spread of the virus” after all 11 cases were detected in Qatif. The region has a majority-Shiite population, and some of the first cases appeared in residents who recently had traveled to Iran, the epicenter of a wider outbreak across the Middle East. Qatif also has been the site of political and sectarian unrest against Saudi Arabia’s Sunni rulers.

Authorities said Sunday Qatif residents would be allowed to return home but all businesses and government departments in the province should be closed, with the exception of “basic facilities to provide security … [and] supply necessary services.” A resident of Qatif said roads out of the province already had been blocked. Authorities in a text message sent to teachers announced classes would be suspended for two weeks, according to a resident.

Source : The Washington Post


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