RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued on Monday a directive ordering the donation of $10 million to support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) efforts to fight coronavirus.
Saudi authorities also on Monday said nine new coronavirus cases had been identified, adding that it was suspending travel by air and sea between the Kingdom and 14 countries to prevent the spread of the disease.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working together to combat novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” a joint statement read.
“In support of this effort, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided $10 million to the World Health Organization for the implementation of urgent measures to minimize the spread of the disease and to support countries with vulnerable health infrastructures.”
And Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO said the organization “greatly appreciates this generous humanitarian gesture from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which will contribute significantly to efforts to safeguard global health.”
The Ministry of Health said the new cases were four Saudi nationals, two Bahrainis, an American and an Egyptian.
Meanwhile it was also announced on Monday that people who failed to declare correct health-related information at entry points would face fines of up to $133,000.
Earlier state news agency SPA reported that the authorities were suspending travel for Saudi citizens and foreign residents to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Italy and South Korea.
Oman, France, Germany and Spain were added later on Monday.
People travelling from those countries or anyone who has been there in the past 14 days would also be temporarily banned from entering the Kingdom.
The discovery of the four new cases brings the total number of those confirmed to have the virus in the Kingdom to 15.
Previously on Sunday, the health ministry said four cases had been confirmed in Qatif, raising the total to 11 cases.
A statement by the Saudi health ministry said the first case was a Saudi citizen, related to a previous case in Qatif. The patient is now isolated in hospital.
Two of the other patients are Bahraini women who had traveled from Iraq on their way to Bahrain. They were also isolated in a hospital in Qatif.
The fourth case was a US national returning to the Kingdom after traveling to the Philippines and Italy. That patient was sent to an isolation unit in a hospital in Riyadh.
Last week, the Kingdom stopped the entry into the Kingdom of travelers by land transportation from Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait.
Only commercial vehicles are allowed. People traveling into the Kingdom from these countries were told to board flights only through the three major airports in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam where they can be checked by health authorities.
In Riyadh the Riyadh Boulevard and Winter Wonderland were closed this week due to increased concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
And the Saudi Ministry of Education said Sunday that schools and universities would be closed from Monday as part of “preventive and precautionary” measures recommended by health authorities.
The decision covers all educational institutions – public and private – and technical and vocational training institutions.
Also suspended from Monday are all educational and Quranic activities at mosques.
The Ministry of Interior said Sunday that it would limit of movement top and from the governorate of Qatif, to prevent the virus from spreading.
The initial 11 cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom were all residents in Qatif, located in the Eastern Province. Some of them were said to have travelled to Iran, one of the worst hit countries by coronavirus.