As many as 150 Saudi royals said infected with coronavirus
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As many as 150 Saudi royals said infected with coronavirus

New York Times says Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal in intensive care, with elite hospital preparing for influx of other royals

An aerial view shows the Great Mosque and the Mecca Tower and the deserted surroundings in the Saudi holy city of Mecca on April 8, 2020, during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (BANDAR ALDANDANI / AFP)
An aerial view shows the Great Mosque and the Mecca Tower and the deserted surroundings in the Saudi holy city of Mecca on April 8, 2020, during the novel coronavirus pandemic crisis. (BANDAR ALDANDANI / AFP)

As many as 150 members of the Saudi royal family may have been infected with coronavirus, according to a report in The New York Times.

The most senior member of the royal family to be infected, according to the report, is the Governor of Riyadh, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a nephew of King Salman. The Times said Prince Faisal was in intensive care and that several dozen other members of the royal family had fallen ill after being infected with the virus.

The Times claimed to have seen an email sent to senior doctors at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh which treats members of the ruling Al-Saud clan. The Saudi royal family is believed to comprise some 15,000 people.

The email instructed doctors to move out all chronic patients with only “top urgent cases” to be accepted. The Times said the hospital was “preparing as any as 500 beds for an expected influx of other royals and those closest to them.”

Saudi King Salman, chairs a video call of world leaders from the Group of 20 and other international bodies aimed at coordinating the global response to coronavirus crisis, March 26, 2020. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Saudi Arabia reported 355 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours and three new virus-related deaths on Thursday. According to the Ministry of Health, the total number of cases in the Kingdom of 33 million people as of Thursday is 3,287, while the death toll has climbed to 44.

Saudi Arabia’s health minister, Dr. Tawfig al-Rabiah, said on Tuesday that the number of cases in the Kingdom could reach between 10,000 to 200,000 within weeks, depending on adherence to government guidelines.

This week, the Kingdom began imposing a 24-hour curfew in the capital and several other cities, including Jeddah and Mecca. It has already barred travel to and from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, suspended prayers at mosques and closed Islam’s holiest sites to pilgrims to limit infections.

It has also suspended final rulings and judicial orders on visitation rights of children of separated parents as well as ordering the temporary release from prison of people serving sentences related to unpaid private debts.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen announced Wednesday that its forces would begin a ceasefire starting Thursday in response to United Nations calls to halt hostilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement carried by Saudi Arabia’s official state news agency, a Saudi military spokesman, Col. Turki al-Malki, said that the ceasefire would last two weeks and that it could be extended to pave the way for all the parties “to discuss proposals, steps, and mechanisms for sustainable ceasefire in Yemen … for a comprehensive political solution in Yemen.”

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