Saudi suspends international flight operations over new COVID-19 variant

Syed Umarullah HussainiWeb Editor

21st Dec, 2020. 09:40 am

The Government of Saudi Arabia has suspended international flight operations due to the new Coronavirus Variant.

According to the details, Saudi Arabia suspended all international passenger flights for one week in response to a new strain of the coronavirus. As a result of the flight suspension, the Umrah of international pilgrims will also be temporarily suspended.

The decisions were made in response to the emergence of a potent new strain of the virus in the United Kingdom (UK) and other European countries.

Some flights will be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

As per reports, those who returned to the Kingdom from European countries or high-risk countries after Dec. 8 is required to quarantine for two weeks from the date of their arrival.

Those travelers must also undergo a COVID-19 test during their self-isolation period and repeat the test every five days.

It may be recalled that in the previous week, Saudi Arabia kicked off a three-phase Covid-19 vaccination program after the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the kingdom.

Neighboring country Kuwait also announced a ban on Sunday on passenger flights from Britain over the new strain of the virus.

Europe last week became the first region in the world to pass 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 after it appeared that a more infectious strain of the virus was raging in parts of Britain.

The World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted late Saturday that, “We’re in close contact with U.K. officials on the new #COVID19 virus variant.”

The new strain of coronavirus was identified in southeastern England in September and has been circulating in the area since a WHO official told.

“What we understand is that it does have increased transmissibility, in terms of its ability to spread,” said WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19.

Studies are underway to better understand how fast it spreads and whether “it’s related to the variant itself, or a combination of factors with behavior,” she said.

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