Less than 20 princes have contracted the novel coronavirus, the former Saudi intelligence chief, Turki Al-Faisal, announced yesterday.
Al-Faisal comments came in an article entitled “Coronavirus thoughts” in response to a recent report by the New York Times about infected Saudi royals.
On 8 April, the American newspaper said that the governor of Riyadh was “in intensive care with the coronavirus,” adding that other members of the royal family were “sick”.
“As many as 150 royals in the kingdom are now believed to have contracted the virus, including members of its lesser branches,” the newspaper reported, quoting a source close to the royal family. But Al-Faisal described the allegations as “libel”.
Responding to the newspaper’s claims that the Saudi elite hospital – which treats royals – was “preparing as many as 500 beds for an expected influx of other family members,” the Saudi royal stressed that the hospital was “not designated for royals’ treatment only,” noting that it was open for “all citizens”.
Earlier this week, Saudi authorities said they would reopen the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah “in days” almost a month after prayers were suspended across the kingdom – as part of a series of measures to curb the spread of the disease.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions. So far at least 3,297,983 people have contracted the virus, 233,518 have died, and 1,037,635 have recovered, according to the US’ Worldometers. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the outbreak a pandemic.