As the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to tighten its grip worldwide, Saudi authorities are struggling to contain the COVID-19 spread in the Islamic holy city of Mecca. While the global infection rate of the pandemic has reached 1.9 million, Saudi Arabia reportedly recorded at least 1,050 cases of coronavirus infections on April 13 in Mecca, that is home to over 2 million people. The infection rate in Mecca surpassed that of kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, which remains at 1,422 as of April 13. According to international reports, the authorities are unable to contain the COVID-19 spread in Mecca due to the huge number of undocumented immigrants and migrant workers who are living in congested areas.
Just last month, the Saudi authorities had locked down the houses of over 8,000 labourers, suspended their work of expanding Islam’s holiest site. This was after five employers from one of the biggest construction companies in the country, the Mecca-based Saudi Binladin Group, tested positive for coronavirus. Many workers are now reportedly quarantined in a hotel, according to a document seen by an international media outlet. Most of Saudi Arabia has also been placed under a 24-hour curfew including mecca and Medina.
However, as of April 14, the number of coronaviruses cases reported by the kingdom is 4,934 with at least 65 fatalities. Earlier, the authorities had also asked Muslims to halt their plans to attend the Haj pilgrimage while suspending international flights. Most public places have also been ordered to close and the year-round Umrah pilgrimage has been suspended.
At least 150 people from Saudi Arabia royal family are believed to have contracted the fatal COVID-19. After nearly six weeks since the Kingdom confirmed its first case of coronavirus infection, an internal message of The Elite Medical and Surgical Center in Riyadh seen by an international media outlet revealed that the hospital is currently preparing 500 beds to treat a foreseeable influx of COVID-19 patients from the royal family and cited “extreme alert”
First reported by an international media outlet on April 8, the directives have been given to hospital authorities that treats the members from Al-Saud clan “for VIPs around the country”. Meanwhile, a senior Saudi prince, governor of Riyadh is currently in the intensive care unit with coronavirus infection along with several dozens of others of the royal family who have also contracted COVID-19. The directive reportedly even said that sick members from the hospital’s staff would now be treated at an apparently less elite hospital to make space for the ones from the royal family.
(Image source: AP)