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Saudi Arabia extends entry ban amid threats of COVID-19 new variant

Saudi Arabia has extended a ban on entry to the Kingdom by air, land, and sea for another week, on Monday.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement said the decision was a precautionary measure against the spread of the new variant of COVID-19, which had been detected in several countries.

Exceptional cases would be exempted from the entry ban, and non-Saudi citizens are allowed to leave the Kingdom, the statement added.

Furthermore, the ministry is assessing the current situation, and suspension of travel could be further extended, if necessary.

Saudi Arabia had suspended all international flights and also closed land and seaports amid the new COVID-19 strain on December 21.

The new strain of the virus emerged earlier this month in Britain and has reached several countries around the world, including the Middle East.

Owing to the travel restrictions, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) had also halted all its flights scheduled to Saudi Arabia since Dec 21.

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According to the PIA spokesman Abdullah Khan, all affected passengers would be accommodated at the earliest upon flight restoration.

However, PIA has resumed commercial flights to Saudi Arabia on Monday to bring back stranded Pakistanis after Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation allowed non-Saudis to leave the kingdom and permitted foreign airlines to operate flights.

Saman Siddiqui

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