Saudi Arabia on Tuesday suspended entry to the kingdom from 20 countries, with the exception of diplomats, Saudi citizens, medical practitioners and their families, to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the state news agency reported.
The temporary ban, effective from Feb 3, includes people arriving from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Britain, South Africa, France, Egypt, Lebanon, India and Pakistan.
The ministry said the suspension would be implemented from 9 pm on Wednesday and includes travelers who transited through the aforementioned countries within the 14 days prior to their planned journey to the Kingdom.
The ministry said the decision was based on recommendations by Saudi health authorities.
Meanwhile, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said in a statement that its scheduled flights from Sialkot to Dammam, Multan to Madina and Islamabad to Riyadh will operate as per schedule before the ban takes effect.
Two PIA flights from Karachi to Jeddah and Lahore to Madina will also operate as per schedule, it added.
The spokesperson said the PIA flights will bring back stranded Pakistanis from the kingdom.
The spokesperson said bookings of Saudi travellers have been postponed until the ban is lifted and their bookings will be renewed when the flight operations are resumed.
Saudi Arabia’s health minister said on last Sunday that complacency around coronavirus restrictions had led to a notable increase in daily cases in the kingdom.
The kingdom, the largest among the six Gulf Arab states, has recorded more than 367,800 cases and 6,379 deaths so far, the highest tally in the region.
It saw daily infections fall from a peak above 4,000 in June to dip below the 100 mark in early January.
“We have unfortunately in recent days registered a noticeable increase and continued rise in infections. One of the main reasons is gatherings and complacency with precautionary measures,” said Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah.
(With additional input from News Desk)