As many as 150 members of the Saudi royal family are infected with coronavirus, while King Al-Saud and Prince Mohamed bin Salman are in isolation to avoid the spread of the disease.
Doctors at King Faisal Specialist Special Hospital in Riyadh treating members of the royal family are preparing another 500 beds for an expected influx of patients. Salman, 84, has been isolated in a palace near Jeddah, while the crown prince has been relocated to a remote location on the shores of the Red Sea.
The number of Saudi princes is in the thousands, and many travel frequently to Europe, from where they have been suggested to return before being affected by coronavirus. The Saudi royal family is estimated to have about 15,000 members. Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – the governor of the capital Riyadh who is in his 70s – is in intensive care after contracting the virus, according to the New York Times.
The country with a population of about 33 million reported 2,932 cases and 41 deaths. So far, mostly members of the lower branches of the royal family have been infected, a source told the NYT.
Saudi Arabia is expecting up to 200,000 cases of coronavirus within a few weeks, the country’s health minister said on Tuesday. “Within the next few weeks, studies predict that the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000,” said Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah, according to state media. Rabiah, who warned the kingdom to face a “critical moment” in the fight against the virus, said the design was based on four studies by Saudi and international experts.
Several Saudi cities, including the capital, Riyadh, are under a 24-hour siege imposed by the interior minister. The holy cities of Mecca and Medina have also been closed. Authorities last week urged Muslims to temporarily postpone preparations for the annual Hajj. The first case in Saudi Arabia was a patient who had recently traveled to Iran.