Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: Saudi king urges solidarity to overcome 'difficult period' in history

The kingdom has taken strong measures to stop spread of virus inside its borders

King Salman addresses the nation about the coronavirus pandemic. AFP / Saudi Royal Palace / Bandar Al Jaloud
King Salman addresses the nation about the coronavirus pandemic. AFP / Saudi Royal Palace / Bandar Al Jaloud

Saudi King Salman on Thursday pledged to continue measures to curb the coronavirus spread and urged citizens to work together to confront the global pandemic.

"We are living through a difficult period in the history of the world, but we are fully aware that it will pass despite its cruelty, bitterness and difficulty," King Salman said in his first public televised address since the outbreak.

He called on people to act with solidarity and co-operation, and to adhere to official directives.

Saudi Arabia recorded 36 new infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 274 but with no deaths so far.

It has taken drastic measures to address the outbreak, including halting international flights, suspending the Umrah pilgrimage, closing mosques, schools, malls and restaurants, and asking people to stop going to work.

Amid plunging oil prices, the world's top crude exporter has prepared a 50 billion riyal (Dh48.8bn) package to help small and medium sized businesses cope, and has cut its state budget by nearly 5 per cent.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked with several foreign leaders but has not spoken publicly since containment measures were introduced last weekend.

Coronavirus infections among the Arabian Gulf states now top 1,300, with one death in Bahrain.

Many of the cases are linked with travel to Iran, the centre of the outbreak in the Middle East, with 1,284 deaths and more than 18,000 cases of infection.

Updated: March 20, 2020 01:30 AM

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