We’ll beat this: Crown prince vows Saudi Arabia will overcome virus pandemic

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrives for a press conference in Riyadh, on April 25, 2016.

RIYADH (RAHNUMA):  Saudi Arabia will defeat the coronavirus pandemic and “we are heading toward the good,” Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an exchange of Eid Al-Fitr greetings with senior government officials.

The crown prince, who is also the Kingdom’s defense minister, was speaking during a video call with ministry staff and his deputy minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman.

“What pains me this Eid is that it’s a day of joy and it’s our duty as Muslims to rejoice, and I couldn’t be with you today,” he said.

“But the bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing. This is thanks to the fortitude of the men of Saudi Arabia, both military and civilians.”

The Kingdom celebrated the first two days of Eid under a 24-hour lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19, but restrictions will be eased from Thursday, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said on Monday.

“After five months, people have shown a high amount of responsibility in practicing social distancing,” the minister said. “Extreme measures, taken early, helped us to take control of the pandemic.”

The lockdown will ease in phases, beginning on Thursday, and expanding based on reports of virus infections, Al-Rabiah said. “I urge people to take preventive measures while going outside, covering their face and hands.”

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.

Dubai will begin allowing free movement and business activity to restart from Wednesday, with no restrictions between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Some retail and wholesale businesses will be allowed to reopen subject to further disinfection operations and social distancing measures. They include cinemas, indoor gyms and education and treatment centers. Dubai’s airport will also begin to receive returning residents and transit passengers on Wednesday.

The relaxation reverses the UAE’s extension of its nationwide curfew by two hours last week after a spike in daily cases of the coronavirus. There were  822 new cases on Monday, taking the total to just over 30,000, with 248 deaths.

The Palestinian government is also ending its two-month coronavirus lockdown in the occupied West Bank, after a steady decline in new cases.

Shops and businesses will operate as normal from Tuesday, and government employees will return to work after the Eid holiday on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said.

Public transport will resume. Cafes and restaurants could reopen subject to restrictions to be announced later, he said.

“The easing in the measures and gradual return to normal life is being taken with caution,” Shtayyeh said, and he warned that an increase in cases could lead to restrictions being reimposed.

The lockdown in the West Bank had been due to remain in place until June 5. “This is the happiest news I’ve heard in months. We need work, we cannot live without it,” said Rizk Khalaf, 30, a waiter in a restaurant in Ramallah.

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