Saudi Arabia announced a temporary lockdown in the country on Thursday, directing pilgrims and tourists to leave the country within the next 72 hours in a bid to contain the virus from spreading to various parts of the world.
The Pakistan International Arilines (PIA) has made emergency arrangements to bring Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia back to the country. The national flag bearer plans to use additional flights to bring Pakistanis back from Saudi Arabia.
Those Pakistanis who are either residents of Saudi Arabia or hold an Iqamah have been provided the choice to either return to the country within 72 hours if they desire. However, if they wish to leave, then they must do so in 72 hours. A PIA spokesperson said that the schedule of the additional flights which will bring back Pakistanis from the kingdom will be announced soon.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia had temporarily suspended travel of citizens and residents and halted flights with several states including Pakistan, state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) had reported on Thursday citing an official source at Interior Ministry.
The decision includes the European Union, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, and Somalia, source added, saying the Kingdom also suspended entry to those coming from these countries.
Saudi Arabia also suspended passenger traffic through all land crossings with Jordan , while commercial and cargo traffic is still allowed, and the passage of exceptional humanitarian cases.
The decision excludes health workers in the Kingdom from Philippines and India, and evacuation, shipping and trade trips taking necessary precautions.
Saudi Arabia has so far 45 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Reuters.
Further to the decision of the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to temporarily suspend travel of citizens and expatriates to a number of countries where the threat of the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID19) appeared, the SPA stated.
The decision gives a 72-hour period for citizens and those with valid residency of the citizens of those countries to return to the kingdom, before the travel suspension decision becomes effective.