Covid-19: Saudi Arabia bans entry of 20 countries, including India

Saudi Arabia Tuesday banned arrivals from 20 countries, including India and the United States, in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. While the Middle Eastern country had suspended air travel from India in September last year itself, the list of banned countries has now grown significantly longer.

The “temporary suspension”, which begins on Wednesday, does not apply to diplomats, Saudi citizens, medical practitioners and their families, AFP reported. But it does include Saudi Arabia’s neighbouring nations — Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

The ban also includes Lebanon, Turkey, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. Apart from the US and India, travellers from Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, and South Africa have also been barred from entering the country.

The temporary ban will also apply to travellers who passed through the 20 banned countries during the 14 days preceding the implementation of the ban, Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said.

A similar ban was last imposed in the country in December, after a new and more virulent strain of coronavirus was detected in the UK. The country had resumed international flights and reopened its ports on January 3, 2021.

The move comes days after Riyadh announced that it was postponing the end of a travel ban for its citizens and the reopening of its ports from March 31 to May 17, Reuters reported. The country’s health minister had said that the lifting of the travel ban was pushed back due to delays in the delivery of coronavirus vaccines.

At present, Saudi Arabia is reporting over 3.68 lakh Covid-19 cases and 6,383 deaths, according to data obtained by Johns Hopkins University.

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