Saudi Arabia, on Monday, has suspended all international flights, including Air India flights, flying into the kingdom for a week. The decision was taken shortly after a new coronavirus strain was identified in the United Kingdom. Saudi has closed it's land and sea borders to the world at least for a week and the closure is likely to be extended.
Shortly after the news of the new Covid strain broke out, panic spread across the world. The kingdom quickly reacted and proceeded to dispel the fears regarding the new Covid strain from the minds of the public. There were claims that the kingdom had reported a case of the new variant, however, Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry rejected such claims.
Saudi's Health Minister Dr Tawfiq Al-Rabiah told news agencies on Monday that Saudi Arabia is closely studying the new coronavirus variant. “We are closing monitoring the new variant. We are assessing the situation and there is a need to understand more about this new Covid-19 variant,” Dr Tawfiq said, adding that the Saudi leadership has taken all precautionary measures by banning travel across the country.
Just like Indian-American physician Dr Vivek Murthy, Dr Tawfiq also believes that there is no conclusive evidence suggesting that the newly identified Covid-19 strain was more dangerous than the coronavirus itself. He added that the Covid-19 vaccine will be effective against the new Covid strain. On December 17, Dr Tawfiq received a shot of the vaccine a day after the kingdom received the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia will be opening vaccine centres in the Eastern Province and Saudi’s western region soon. According to Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, around 440,000 people have signed up for the vaccination drive and nearly 90% of people signed up for the vaccination drive are between 20-60 years of age. Pregnant women and those women planning on getting pregnant in the next two months breastfeeding mothers, those suffering from severe allergies as well as those infected with the virus in the last 90 days, will not be receiving the vaccine according to the health ministry.