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Saudi: No plans for curfew over new COVID-19 strain

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Saudi Arabia is unlikely to impose a curfew to prevent the potential spread of a new strain of the novel coronavirus, according to a health official.

On Sunday, the kingdom closed its borders and halted international flights for a renewable week over concerns of the new coronavirus variant. However, foreign flights already in the kingdom can leave.

Saudi Assistant Undersecretary for Preventive Health Dr Abdullah Assiri said that extending the closure of border crossings for one more week hinges on studies mainly from Britain where cases of the fast-moving virus strain have been recorded.

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“I don’t think we need any extra measures at this stage. Our situation is excellent compared to Britain and the US,” he told satellite television Rota Khalijia. “I don’t see any sign of imposing a curfew in the kingdom in the coming period,” he added.

Saudi health authorities Monday denied rumours that the new mutant virus has been detected.

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Dr Assiri also ruled out an effect of the new strain on vaccines already developed against COVID-19.

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The kingdom last week started vaccinations using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19. The vaccine is provided for free for Saudi nationals and expatriates.

“All reports indicate that the vaccine has not been affected by the virus mutations,” Dr Assiri said. He cited ongoing talks with Russia and China to obtain the COVID-19 vaccines.

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