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Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia to suspend international flights for two weeks

Saudi authorities have closed schools and restricted travel to Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus
Saudi Arabia has recorded 86 cases of the coronavirus but not reported any deaths, according to official health ministry figures (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia said it would suspend all international flights on Saturday for two weeks in response to the new coronavirus outbreak.

Quoting an Interior Ministry official, the state-backed Saudi Press Agency said the suspension would apply to all cases except "exceptional cases". 

"The Kingdom's government decided to suspend international flights for two weeks (starting Sunday, March 15th) as part of its efforts to prevent the spread of the #Coronavirus," the foreign ministry tweeted. 

Saudi citizens and expatriates who are unable to return because of the suspension or go into quarantine will be granted an "exceptional official holiday" the ministry added. 

Saudi Arabia has recorded 86 cases of the coronavirus but not reported any deaths,  according to official health ministry figures. 

The kingdom has already halted flights to several countries and closed schools and universities to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Saudi Arabia also temporary closed off the eastern province of Qatif where most of the kingdom's cases have come from. 

Other measures taken by Saudi Arabia to contain the spread of the disease include banning the Umrah pilgrimage, which devotees take throughout the year, to Mecca and Medina.