Saudi Arabia Confirms 1st Coronavirus Case

Passengers coming from China are checked by Saudi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 29, 2020. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced its first case of the new coronavirus; a Saudi national returning from Iran through Bahrain, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry said on its official Twitter account that the individual, who is in quarantine in hospital, didn’t disclose his visit to Iran when entering Saudi Arabia.

Iran has reported the most deaths from the coronavirus outside China, where the flu-like disease originated. Other Gulf Arab states have diagnosed the infection in several people who had visited Iran.

The official SPA, citing the Health Ministry, said people who interacted with the infected man had been isolated to be tested.

In neighboring Bahrain, the health ministry diagnosed on Monday two more people with the coronavirus; a Bahraini woman and a Saudi man, both of whom it said took non-direct flights from Iran to Bahrain. This brings the total recorded cases in Bahrain to 49.

Saudi Arabia had since last week taken several measures to prevent the spread of the disease to the Kingdom.

It imposed a ban on foreigners arriving for the umrah pilgrimage and Gulf Arab citizens visiting Makkah and Madinah. Besides, tourists from at least 25 states where the virus has been found.

The Health Ministry said on Sunday it prepared 25 hospitals to handle any coronavirus infections. This also includes 2,200 beds dedicated for quarantine cases.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz later received a telephone call from King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, who expressed his support for the Kingdom’s preventative measures against the coronavirus.