The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has temporarily banned arrivals from 20 countries in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and also prevent the importation of new variants of the virus.
The ban, which takes effect on February 3, affects non-citizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families, according to a notice by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior.
The notice also stated that travelers who passed through the listed countries in the 14 days prior to the implementation of the ban will be affected.
Two African countries were among the 20 which were blacklisted: Egypt and South Africa, the latter being the worst-affected country in the continent.
South Africa is currently battling a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to a new variant of the virus, which scientists found was more infectious. South Africa has so far reported 1,458,948 confirmed cases and 44,946 deaths.
Egypt, meanwhile, already entered the second wave of the pandemic after cases increased steadily throughout November and December, according to local media reports. Egypt has reported 167,013 confirmed cases and 9,316 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
The World Health Organization recently warned that COVID-19 cases and deaths were surging in Africa as new, more contagious variants of the virus spread to additional countries.
Other countries on the list are: the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the United States, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, India and Japan.
The news came just days after Saudi Arabia announced it was postponing the end of a travel ban for its citizens and the reopening of its ports from March 31 to May 17.
Saudi Arabia has reported 368,639 confirmed cases and 6,383 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.