Curfew in Mecca, Medina extended to 24 hours on coronavirus | News from Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, extending measures to fight the new coronavirus, while other Arab Gulf states have locked up districts with d ‘large populations of migrant workers.

The Saudi Interior Ministry has stipulated exceptions, notably for essential workers and residents authorized to buy food and access medical care. Cars can only carry one passenger.


Saudi Arabia recorded 1,885 infections and 21 deaths, the highest of the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

It has already interrupted international flights, suspended the Umrah pilgrimage all year, closed most public places and severely restricted internal travel.

On public television on Tuesday, Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Saleh Benten, asked Muslims to delay preparations for the annual Hajj pilgrimage due in late July due to the pandemic.

About 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world usually flock to the cities of Mecca and Medina for the week-long ritual. The pilgrimage is also an important source of income for the kingdom.

The oil-producing eastern province of Qatif, where the first cases of the kingdom’s coronavirus have been reported in Shiite Muslim pilgrims returning from Iran, has been in detention for almost four weeks.

Entry and exit to Riyadh, Mecca, Medina and Jeddah are limited.

Some areas of Mecca and Medina were already completely closed, but in the rest of these cities, the curfew was previously from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Locked-out migrant workers’ quarters

In other Arab Gulf states, the closures have targeted neighborhoods with large numbers of low-paid foreign workers.

Kuwaiti Minister of Health said authorities are considering closing certain areas after Qatar announced on Wednesday evening that it was extending the closure of an industrial area and that Oman has closed Muttrah, which is home to one of the largest ancient markets of the sultanate.

Dubai in the United Arab Emirates sealed off Al Ras on Tuesday, a region famous for its gold and spice souks and home to many migrant workers.

Coronavirus changes the way Muslims worship

Millions of migrant workers, mostly from Asian countries like Nepal, India and the Philippines, are part of the large expatriate population in the six Gulf States, where confirmed infections have reached more than 4,700, with 36 deaths.

Bahrain’s health ministry on Thursday reported 66 new cases, all in the Salmabad industrial area.

“The expatriate workers had been placed in precautionary quarantine in their residence and yesterday were placed in a dedicated quarantine facility and there is no epidemic among the workers,” he added.

The Minister of Health in Oman said that the coastal commercial district of Muttrah had been closed due to the discovery of a community spread of the virus.

“Such decisions are not easy to make … but it is for the public good,” he said.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that it is making efforts to allow foreign residents to return home even if passenger flights remain suspended.

In mid-March, Qatar reported that the majority of coronavirus cases were located in what is known as the industrial zone, a commercial hub outside the capital Doha, where many migrant workers live.

The area has been placed under full lockdown to help curb the epidemic.


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