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Saudi Arabia prepares 25 hospitals to handle coronavirus cases

People wear medical masks as a precaution against coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, on 26 February 2020 in Kuwait city, Kuwait. [Jaber Abdulkhaleg - Anadolu Agency]
People wear medical masks as a precaution against coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on 26 February 2020 [Jaber Abdulkhaleg / Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had prepared 25 hospitals to handle any coronavirus cases that might be detected in the kingdom, part of precautionary measures which include closing its borders to foreign “umrah” pilgrims, reported Reuters.

Health ministry spokesman Mohammed Abdelali told a news conference that 2,200 hospital beds were dedicated for quarantine cases.

The kingdom has not confirmed any cases of the new coronavirus so far, he said, adding that Saudi Arabia’s trade activity had not been impacted and “is going as usual”.

Saudi Arabia, which has Islam’s two holiest sites, on Thursday announced a ban on foreigners coming to the kingdom for the umrah pilgrimage, which can take place at any time of the year, and to tourists from at least 25 countries where the virus has been found.

Live Blog: Global outbreak of the coronavirus

Other Gulf Arab states have reported coronavirus cases, many linked to visits to Iran or involving people who have come into contact with people who had been there.

Iran has reported 54 deaths from the virus, the highest number of deaths from the virus outside of China, where the outbreak originated late last year.

Read: Chinese student commits suicide in Saudi after being quarantined for coronavirus

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