Coronavirus: Saudi king urges solidarity to overcome 'difficult period' in history

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi King Salman on Thursday pledged to continue measures to curb the coronavirus spread and urged citizens to work together to confront the global pandemic.

"We are living through a difficult period in the history of the world, but we are fully aware that it will pass despite its cruelty, bitterness and difficulty," King Salman said in his first public televised address since the outbreak.

He called on people to act with solidarity and co-operation, and to adhere to official directives.

Medical staff push a patient on a gurney to a waiting medical helicopter at the Emile Muller hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France. AFP

An Indian man shows his stamped hand, indicating that the person is under 'home quarantine', in Mumbai, India. EPA

Judie Shape, centre, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, but isn't showing symptoms, presses her hand against her window after a visit through the window and on the phone with her daughter Lori Spencer, left, and her son-in-law Michael Spencer, at the Life Care Center in Kirkland. AP Photo

A single worshipper wearing a surgical mask sits on a pew in Westminster Cathedral in central London. AFP

People confined at their homes sing and dance from their windows to bolster themselves up during a lockdown in Madrid. AFP

A person walks on the deserted Passerelle du Palais de Justice in Lyon, central eastern France as a strict lockdown comes into in effect. AFP

Soldiers stand guard on road leading to a quarantine faciltity for people returning from Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border town of Taftan, in Sukkur in southern Sindh province. AFP

A passenger wearing protective clothing uses a self check-in machine at Incheon international airport, west of Seoul. AFP

Workers cheer themselves after loading travellers onto buses outside the New China International Exhibition Centre, near Beijing Capital Airport in Beijing. AFP

A nurse wearing a facemask walks outside the entrance of Sri Lanka's Infectious Diseases Hospital near Colombo. AFP

People queue for groceries at a supermarket in Singapore. AFP

A medical worker tests a person for the coronavirus at a drive-through facility primarily for first responders and medical personnel in San Antonio. AP Photo

A robot, developed by a start-up firm Asimov Robotics, holds a tray with face masks and sanitiser after the two robots were launched to spread awareness about the coronavirus, in Kochi, India, March 17, 2020. Reuters

Saudi Arabia recorded 36 new infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 274 but with no deaths so far.

It has taken drastic measures to address the outbreak, including halting international flights, suspending the Umrah pilgrimage, closing mosques, schools, malls and restaurants, and asking people to stop going to work.

Amid plunging oil prices, the world's top crude exporter has prepared a 50 billion riyal (Dh48.8bn) package to help small and medium sized businesses cope, and has cut its state budget by nearly 5 per cent.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has talked with several foreign leaders but has not spoken publicly since containment measures were introduced last weekend.

Coronavirus infections among the Arabian Gulf states now top 1,300, with one death in Bahrain.

Many of the cases are linked with travel to Iran, the centre of the outbreak in the Middle East, with 1,284 deaths and more than 18,000 cases of infection.

Updated: March 20, 2020 01:30 AM

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