UPDATES WITH MORE DETAILS
By Bassel Barakat and Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) - Saudi Arabia on Thursday declared a 24-hour lockdown in all parts of Makkah and Medina cities as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
"The 24-hour curfew will be imposed in all parts of the cities of Makkah and Medina, with a ban on entry and exit from both cities," the Saudi Interior Ministry said on Twitter.
The lockdown starts from Thursday “until further notice.”
Residents will be allowed to leave their homes to meet only basic needs such as health care and food supplies from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. every day, the official SPA news agency quoted the ministry as saying.
Employees of vital sectors in government and private sectors will be exempted from the ban of entry into and exit from the two cities, it added.
All commercial activities inside the residential neighborhoods of the two cities were also prohibited, except for pharmacies, food products stores, gas stations and banking services, the ministry said.
The ministry also called on Saudi people to fulfill individual responsibilities, follow instructions, and comply with the isolation measures to preserve the public interest.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 180 countries and regions, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Its data shows the number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 965,200, with the death toll over 49,200 and more than 203,000 recoveries.