Saudi Arabia on Tuesday suspended entry from 20 countries, ranging from some neighboring states to the United States, in a bid to curb a jump in coronavirus infections.
The interior ministry announced the "temporary suspension" would be effective from 9.00 pm (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The ban applies to neighboring Egypt and the UAE, and in the wider region, to Lebanon and Turkey. The ban includes Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland in Europe. Elsewhere, as well as the United States, it applies to Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, and South Africa.
Saudi citizens, diplomats, and all health workers, who are coming from those countries, will be allowed to enter the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has reported more than 368,000 Covid-19 cases and nearly 6,400 deaths, the highest among Gulf Arab states. Daily infections have gone below 100 at the beginning of January, from the highest of nearly 5,000 last June. However, new daily infections have tripled since then, with 310 cases reported by the health ministry on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia has launched a coronavirus vaccination campaign on December 17 after receiving the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The health ministry said the program would roll out in three phases, starting with people over 65 and those with chronic ailments, or who are at high risk of infection. But last month, the ministry said it was forced to slow rollout due to delays in vaccine delivery.