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Saudi suspends travel from 20 countries in bid to stem covid surge

Health workers perform a nose swab test during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers perform a nose swab test during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia has suspended entry to 20 countries as it moves to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the kingdom.

The temporary suspension is set to come into effect from 19.00 GMT today.

Within the region the ban includes Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon and Turkey and in Europe it covers Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

The US, Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Japan and South Africa are also affected by the new ruling.

People who have travelled through one of these 20 countries in the past two weeks will also be unable to enter Saudi.

Diplomats, Saudi citizens, medics and their families are exempt from the ban.

READ: Saudi petrochemical giant's profits fall dramatically

The new travel restriction comes just two months after the kingdom shut its land borders and suspended international travel over the new covid strain in the UK and one month after it reopened its borders on 3 January.

There is a surge in new variations of the original coronavirus detected in England, South Africa and Brazil that are thought to be more contagious than the original.

Saudi Arabia has the highest number of cases and deaths in the Gulf with early cases in particular being linked to travel.

The kingdom recorded its first coronavirus infection on 2 March 2020 and topped 50,000 cases two months later.

It has reported 368,639 cases in total and recorded 6,383 deaths.

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CoronavirusMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
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