Saudi Arabia has announced a three-year travel ban and hefty penalties on citizens who visit countries on the kingdom's COVID-19 red list, including India.
"Travelling to the banned countries is an obvious violation of COVID-19 related travel restrictions and the Kingdom’s updated instructions," the Gulf News on Tuesday quoted a report by the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying.
The SPA report said an official at the Saudi Ministry of Interior has warned Saudi citizens against travelling to countries that have been put on the no-travel list recently as these nations are currently witnessing a surge in cases of COVID-19 and its variants.
The red-list countries include the UAE, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, India and Vietnam.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The source, quoted by the SPA, said there are reports about citizens travelling to the banned countries in violation of the instructions issued by official authorities.
“Those who violate the travel ban will be held accountable and slapped with heavy penalties,” the source said, adding that those who are found to have violated the instructions would be banned from travelling abroad for three years.
The ministry called on citizens against travelling directly or indirectly to the red-list countries where the pandemic has not yet been controlled and there is a surge in cases of mutated strains of coronavirus.
It also urged citizens to exercise caution and stay away from areas where instability prevails or the virus is spreading, and take all precautionary measures regardless of their destination.
As on Tuesday, the kingdom's coronavirus tally stands at 520,774, including 11,136 active cases, while the total death toll was at 8,189.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.