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COVID-19: Saudi Arabia Suspends UAE Flights

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Saudi Arabia has halted flights to three countries, including the United Arab Emirates, in order to safeguard against a coronavirus strain, according to the interior ministry.

The decision comes seven weeks after the oil-rich monarchy allowed fully immunised people to travel overseas following a more than a year-long ban.

The United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai, is a popular leisure destination for Saudis.

Flights to and from the UAE, as well as flights to Ethiopia and Vietnam, will be halted as of Sunday, according to a statement from the interior ministry, as reported by the state news agency SPA.

Saudi nationals and residents returning from these countries would be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period, according to the statement.

Citizens would be prohibited from “traveling directly or indirectly without first seeking authorization from… authorities.”

The decision was made owing to “the emergence of a new modified strain of the (Covid-19) virus,” it said, without mentioning the Delta version, which is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the world.

The variation is the most infectious of any Covid-19 variant ever known, having been discovered in India and now being found in at least 85 countries.

Last week, the UAE reported that it had identified cases of the Delta strain and that flights to and from India had been halted.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has imposed strict restrictions on the annual hajj pilgrimage. More than 490,000 instances of coronavirus have been reported, with almost 7,850 fatalities.

A substantial expat workforce from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East lives in the oil-rich Gulf state.

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