Uber suspends taxi booking option in Saudi Arabia

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

An Afghan national died in Madinah on Monday night, marking the first fatality in Saudi Arabia from the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Ministry of Health.

"All those who mixed with confirmed cases are being isolated", said the spokesman for the kingdom's health ministry, Mohammed al-Abd al-Ali, reported Al Arabiya.

The Arab world's biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls and restaurants, halted flights and suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.

Also on Friday, the Saudi Customs announced in a separate statement its decision to stop the export of medicines as well as pharmaceutical and medical devices in order to provide the utmost protection for citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom.

It recorded 205 new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total in the six-member Gulf Coordination Council to more than 2,100, mostly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative of holding a web-summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Saudi Arabia is to chair a G20 group's video conference on the novel coronavirus on Thursday.

It already suspended all global flights from March 15 onwards for a period of two weeks, apart from closing schools and universities across the country.

Major carriers Emirates [EMIRA.UL] and Etihad Airways have said they would halt passenger flights as of Wednesday and temporarily cut staff wages.

"There is a lot of confusion on the flight suspension", a European diplomat said, adding that the sudden changes were making it increasingly hard to get European citizens home.

"This is a global problem".

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