Saudi Arabia’s hospitals are put on high alert after 355 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday emerged in the country. Dozens of members of the ruling Saudi royal family, as many as 150, have been infected with coronavirus in recent weeks.
The highest royal of the hierarchy to be infected so far is Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud [the governor of the capital Riyadh] who is in his 70s. He is said to be in intensive care after contracting the virus. Several dozen other members of the royal family have caught the illness as well.
Saudi govt announces 355 new cases in 24 hours
Saudi Arabia announced 355 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday bringing the total number of cases to 3,287. The new cases refer to those that have been reported during the last 24 hours in the Kingdom.
The increasing number of cases only within 24 hours has raised a serious concern in the region.
Moreover, over 500 beds are being prepared at the elite hospital that treats Al Saud members. According to an internal high alert sent out by hospital officials, doctors are preparing the beds for an expected influx of other royals, says the Times report.
The alert urged that all chronic patients must be moved out of the elite hospital as soon as possible. All sick staff members are treated at a smaller elite hospital to make room for the royals, the report added.
King Salman has warned of a more difficult road ahead as the country grapples with falling oil prices. Also, a slowed-down economy due to a surge in new coronavirus cases. The 84-year-old royal chaired the virtual conference of leaders from the world’s richest economies, known as the G-20. The meeting was convened to discuss a coordinated global response to the pandemic.
Hajj in jeopardy
However, where King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have retreated into isolation to avoid the outbreak, many Saudis are now at the risk. The uncontrollable number in the country has also put a question mark on the upcoming annual Hajj.
Uncertainty looms over this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. Saudi authorities asking Muslims to wait until there is clarity on the coronavirus situation.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is prepared to secure the safety of all Muslims and nationals,” said Saudi Minister for Hajj and Umrah Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Banten.
“That’s why we have requested from all Muslims around the world to hold on to signing any agreements until we have a clear vision.”
Like many countries, Saudi Arabia has enforced a lockdown and curfew in an attempt to stem the outbreak. Entry to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina has been severely restricted. The Saudi government is also considering the cancellation of Hajj. Hajj invites at least two million people from different parts of the world. It will make the country more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
If Saudi Arabia cancels 2020’s Hajj, it will be added to a list of almost 40 dramatic cancellations since the first one in 629 A.D.