Saudi policemen manning a checkpoint in the King Fahad main street in the capital Riyadh. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has imposed a 24-hour curfew in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as of today (Thursday) until further notice, as the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen to 21.

The new restrictions come as the kingdom reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 1885. Five new deaths have also been reported over the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 21, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, said during a press conference.

He said 64 infected patients have fully recovered, taking the total recoveries to 328. The minister highlighted the importance of the measures in controlling the spread of the pandemic. “People’s adherence is essential to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, whatever the strong measures,” the minister said.

The 24-hour curfew was announced by Interior Minister Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al Saud. It was from 3pm to 6am only. The kingdom is extending the curfew as part of slew of intensified measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the interior minister said.

ll commercial activities will be closed in the two cities, but pharmacies, food groceries, fuel stations and banks are exempted.

The minister said “there are some exemptions as we will allow people in Mecca and Medina to move within the minimum range and only within their neighbourhoods to buy their essentials.”

He emphasised that security authorities will show no leniency towards curfew violators, calling on all community members to adhere to the new measures imposed to safeguard the safety of everyone.