A traveller wearing a protective face mask wheels his bags at Riyadh International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Image Credit: Reuters

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has suspended flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini due to concerns related to the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The entry to the Kingdom is suspended entry for non-nationals who come directly and indirectly from the aforementioned countries.

Exceptions include those who have spent a period of no less than 14 days in another country from which health procedures in the Kingdom allow entry, in accordance with the approved health procedures.

A period of five days will be applied to all excluded groups coming from these countries, including citizens of the Kingdom, regardless of the status of immunization.

The discovery of a new coronavirus variant sent a chill through much of the world Friday as nations raced to halt air travel, markets fell sharply and scientists held emergency meetings to weigh the exact risks, which were largely unknown.

Medical experts, including the World Health Organization, warned against any overreaction before the variant that originated in southern Africa was better understood.