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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia shuts  Mecca, Medina, Riyadh

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sealed off the capital Riyadh and two of Islam’s holiest cities and extended curfew hours as it reported its second death from the new coronavirus.

The kingdom barred entry and exit from Riyadh as well as Mecca and Medina and prohibited movement between all provinces, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, as the health ministry said the total number of infections spiked to 900.

Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, on Monday began implementing an 11-hour nationwide curfew — starting at 7 pm — to limit the spread of the deadly COVID-19 illness.

The curfew hours were brought forward to 3 pm in the three cities, SPA said citing measures approved by King Salman that will take effect from Thursday. Authorities plan to implement the curfew for 21 days and have warned that transgressors will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,663) and could face jail for repeated breaches.

The health ministry on Wednesday said a resident of Mecca was the second person to die from the disease in the kingdom.

The Arab world’s biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants, halted flights and suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.

King Salman warned last week of a “more difficult” fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the economic double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices.

The king will chair an emergency virtual summit of leaders from the Group of 20 major economies on Thursday to discuss a global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the kingdom unveiled stimulus measures amounting to 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) to support businesses and said it plans to raise borrowing to 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Similar restrictions and stimulus measures have been reported by other countries in the Gulf, where more than 2,400 coronavirus infections have been reported so far.

AFP

Sunday Olatunji
Dele Fashomi, seasoned journalist and communication teacher, is a holder of Master of Arts degree in Communication and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan in 1992/93. Earlier, he had bagged a Bachelor degree from the same university in 1984, after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, in 1990, for a postgraduate diploma in Journalism. He had done many courses in communication, including the EU-BBC Editing Course in 2002. Mr. Fashomi combines effectively the practice, research and teaching of communication. And to date, he has published two academic works in communication: Issues in Communication Technology and Policy (2010) and Economic and Social Issues in Advertising and PR (2013). He had his first break in the Nigerian media in Concord Newspapers in 1990 and today, he has over two and half decades experience earned in several newspapers. He has been part of many start-ups, such as The Republic (1987), The Comet (1999), The Anchor 2001 - 2002; Sun Newspapers (2003); Westerner newsmagazine (2005 - 2010) as Editor; National Life (2011) as Sunday Editor, and Newswatch Newspapers (2012- 2016) as Daily Editor. Dele Fashomi is now the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Newstide247.com newspaper online, which he started in July 2015. He is also into biography writing, with many books in his trail, some of which he wrote alone and one he co- authored with his mentor, Mr Dare Babarinsa, entitled:  Olabiyi Durojaiye - DARE TO BE DiFFERENT. He also guided and collaborated with Pa Olatunji Odusanya in writing his autobiography - AGAINST ALL ODDS. There are many other books in the works under his pen.
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