March 8, 2020 / 1:08 PM / 24 days ago

Saudi Arabia locks down Qatif province to prevent coronavirus spread

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it has imposed a temporary lockdown on the eastern Qatif province, an oil-producing region and home to a large Shi’ite Muslim population, to prevent the spread of coronavirus after 11 people there were infected.

All the individuals who had been diagnosed with the disease in the kingdom have either been to Iran or interacted with people who visited the Islamic Republic, home to major Shi’ite holy sites.

The Saudi interior ministry said in a statement that no one would be allowed to enter or exit Qatif and that work at all public and private sectors in the province had been suspended with the exception of institutions providing necessary services.

Commercial supplies would continue to flow to the region, said the statement carried on state media.

Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Aziz El Yaakhoubi; Writing by Ghaida Ghantous;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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