150 members of Saudi royal family test positive for coronavirus: report
In recent weeks, a news report said hundreds of members of the ruling Saudi royal family, as many as 150, have been diagnosed with coronavirus.
According to The New York Times, which cited hospital contacts, doctors in the country and common sources, Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud-the governor of the capital Riyadh who is in his 70s-is in intensive care after contracting the virus.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) remained in isolation to escape the outbreak.
Doctors in a prestigious hospital that treats royals are preparing 500 more beds for an expected patient influx.
“Directives are to be ready for VIPs from around the country,” the elite facility operators, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, wrote in a “high alert” that was sent electronically to senior doctors on Tuesday and subsequently accessed by the Times.
“We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” said the message, which instructed “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP” and only “top urgent cases” will be accepted, according to the newspaper.
The warning added that any compromised workers would now undergo care at a less prestigious hospital to make space for royals.
Saudi Princes are in thousands. Some frequently fly to Europe and others are suspected to have contracted the virus abroad and returned it to Saudi Arabia, the study said.
The approximately 33 million people in the kingdom recorded 2,932 cases and 41 deaths.
The nation, home to Mecca and Medina, the holiest sites of Islam, banned the Umrah pilgrimage during the year and sealed off the areas in early March.
Traveling in and out of the country, as well as between provinces, has since been largely limited, and four governors and five major cities have been put under the 24-hour lockdown.
Authorities are yet to decide whether they will continue with the Hajj scheduled for the end of July, this year. Around 2.5 million people traveled to Saudi Arabia last year to partake in the Hajj, which all Muslims have to perform at least once in their lives if they can.