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Saudi royals hit by COVID-19; King, Crown Prince in isolation

Riyadh: Over 150 members of the ruling Saudi royal family have been infected with coronavirus in recent weeks, a news report said.

The governor of Riyadh Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – who is in his 70s was confirmed to have tested positive by two doctors – is in intensive care after contracting the virus, according to The New York Times.

Royals in isolation

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and many of his ministers are in isolation on the coast of the Red Sea, while the 84-year-old King Salman is also in isolation near the city of Jeddah, according to the newspaper.

Thousands of princes in the family are believed to have brought the virus after traveling to Europe, the newspaper reported, citing doctors and people close to the family.

High alert

Doctors at an elite hospital that treats royals are preparing 500 more beds for an expected influx of patients.

“We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” said the message from the operator of King Faisal Specialist Hospital, which instructed all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP and only “top urgent cases” will be accepted, according to the newspaper.

The alert added any infected staff members will now be treated at a less elite hospital to save room for royals.

The Saudi royal family is estimated to have about 15,000 members.

The kingdom of about 33 million people has reported 2,932 cases and 41 deaths.

“Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000,” Tawfiq al-Rabiah said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Preventive measures

Travel in and out of the country, as well as between provinces, has since been largely restricted, and four governates and five major cities have been placed under 24-hour lockdown.

The country banned the year-round Umrah pilgrimage and sealed off the areas of Islam’s holiest sites Mecca and Medina in early March.

Authorities have yet to announce decision for this year’s Hajj, scheduled for the end of July.  Last year, about 2.5 million people travelled to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj, a pilgrimage ‘mandatory’ for Muslims.

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