Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia extends visas for expats and visitors

Free three-month extensions granted to those unable to leave or return to the kingdom

People wear protective masks on a street in the Saudi capital Riyadh on July 5, 2020. Reuters
People wear protective masks on a street in the Saudi capital Riyadh on July 5, 2020. Reuters

The visas of foreign residents and visitors in Saudi Arabia who have been affected by the kingdom's coronavirus lockdown will be extended for three months free of charge, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

An order to this effect approved by King Salman includes the exit and return visas issued to foreign residents who were either unable to leave the kingdom or to return from abroad because of the closure of borders, as well as the residence permits of expats outside the country whose validity expired during the lockdown, a ministry official told the state Saudi Press Agency.

It also includes final exit visas of foreign residents and the visit visas of foreigners who were unable to leave the kingdom before they expired.

These exceptions could be revised as needed, the official told SPA.

The Saudi health ministry on Sunday announced plans to open its Takkad coronavirus testing centres in all regions in coming days as it reported 3,580 new cases, 1,980 recoveries and 58 more deaths from Covid-19.

The ministry said 357,000 people had visited the testing centres opened so far, while another 208,000 had availed of the Tetamman clinics set up for people with Covid-19 symptoms such as sore throat sore, fever, shortness of breath and cough.

In Kuwait, the health ministry reported 638 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, taking the country's total to 49,941.

A further 520 patients recovered from the virus, while three new deaths raised the total to 368.

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Coronavirus around the world

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Qatar's health ministry reported 616 new infections, 1,897 recoveries and five more deaths on Sunday, leaving the country with 7,387 active cases.

Oman said it was launching spot checks on businesses to ensure they comply with safety guidelines amid a “staggering” rise in cases.

Inspection teams "will visit offices suddenly and take immediate action against those who fail to comply", Health Minister Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi said.

Oman has declared more than 46,000 cases since the outbreak reached its shores in February.

Of the 1,072 new cases reported on Sunday, 75 per cent were Omanis. Ten new deaths raised the sultanate's Covid-19 toll to 213.

The health ministry said 27,917 of those who tested positive for the coronavirus have since recovered.

In Bahrain, 8,280 tests carried out on Saturday revealed 447 new cases, the health ministry said. they include 250 expatriate workers, 193 contacts of active cases, and four travel-related cases.

The number of people who have recovered from the virus rose by 641 to 23,959, it said.

Outside the Gulf, Iran reported its highest daily death toll from Covid-19 on Sunday amid a resurgence of the coronavirus in the worst-affected country in the Middle East.

Besides the 163 deaths since Saturday, 2,560 more people had tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the country's total confirmed infections to 240,438. There have been 201,330 recoveries, health ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said.

Iran's previous record of 162 deaths was announced last Monday. Case numbers and deaths have been rising steadily in recent weeks after Iran eased its coronavirus restrictions in mid-April.

President Hassan Rouhani warned on Saturday that Iranians who do not wear masks will be denied state services and workplaces that fail to comply with health protocols will be shut for a week.

In Morocco, which eased coronavirus lockdown measures only on June 25, an outbreak at a fish canning factory in the southern port city of Safi contributed to the kingdom's highest daily rise in cases since early March.

The city was quarantined overnight and its around 300,000 inhabitants placed under a total lockdown, local media reported on Sunday.

The health ministry said the 698 new infections raised Morocco's total to 14,132 cases and 234 deaths.

Updated: July 5, 2020 07:59 PM

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