File photo of coronavirus Photograph:( AFP )
Saudi Arabia has blocked the entry of people from Britain, France, Germany including neighbouring Egypt, the United Arab Emirates
After a surge in coronavirus cases in the country, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended entry of foreigners from 20 countries.
The bar on entry comes into effect from Wednesday at 9pm local time (1800 GMT). The development comes as Saudi Arabia reported 270 new coronavirus infections on last Saturday. The country has recorded 367,800 COVID-19 cases and 6,370 fatalities so far.
Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah while cautioning the country about the cases had said: "We have unfortunately in recent days registered a noticeable increase and continued rise in infections. One of the main reasons is gatherings and complacency with precautionary measures, adding,"lack of compliance will force us to take measures to protect society."
Saudi Arabia, as a result, has blocked the entry of people from Britain, France, Germany including neighbouring Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Japan, South Africa, Indonesia, Lebanon, Turkey among others.
Citizens from Switzerland, Italy and Portugal have also been disallowed from entering the country.
The surge in virus cases come even as the country began its vaccination drive on December 17 after receiving the first does the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However, there was a delay in more vaccines forcing the government to slow the vaccination drive after it initially announced that people over 65 will receive the jabs first.
The government has said that diplomats and health workers can continue to travel into the Kindom from the countries currently on the list.
The Gulf states have witnessed a recent surge in cases even as vaccination has picked with UAE and Bahrain ranking second and fourth respectively globally on vaccine rollout per head of population.
UAE however had recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases with 303,609 infections.