Authorities announce coronavirus (COVID-19) containment restrictions in Qatif governorate, Saudi Arabia, starting March 8.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 08 Mar 2020 21:49 GMT and is scheduled to expire 13 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Preventive restrictions
  • Location(s): Qatif Governorate (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry and exit restrictions; business disruptions; shipping delays; heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Saudi Arabia announced March 8 that they are temporarily suspending movement into and out of Qatif Governorate as part of their effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Under the new restrictions, no one will be allowed to enter or leave the governorate, with the exception that Qatif residents currently outside the area will be allowed to return to their homes. Public and private businesses in the governorate will be closed, except those providing health, security, and other essential services. According to officials, the measure will not impact oil production in the area. It remains unclear how long the restrictions will remain in place. All 11 of Saudi Arabia's confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 8 were in Qatif residents.

Severe transport and business disruptions are likely in Qatif Governorate for the duration of the movement restrictions. Authorities will probably deploy increased security to assist in enforcing the measure.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission can occur, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Heed all official advisories and remain nonconfrontational if stopped by authorities. Confirm travel and appointments in the impacted region.

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