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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - By Tommy Hilton
DUBAI -- Saudi Arabia’s city of Jeddah resembled a ghost town on Sunday as the Kingdom’s measures to combat the deadly coronavirus outbreak through limiting social contact came into effect.
Videos from Twitter users and the official Saudi Traffic Police showed deserted streets around the city, including the popular Jeddah Corniche along the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia has implemented a number of measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus through human-to-human contact, including banning all unnecessary travel within the Kingdom.
The video from the Saudi Traffic Police, filmed via drone, showed empty streets in the city. Another video from a Twitter user showed the view from a tower block, with empty streets below.
“19/3/2020, Jeddah, KSA in the era of corona. The roads are empty, the roads are empty, the Jeddah Corniche. God save us,” remarks the man filming.
The videos of Jeddah as a ghost town match up with statistics from the data and analysis firm Exante Data, which has been measuring the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the global economy.
According to data published on Sunday, Jeddah had experienced the biggest reduction in road traffic out of the 30 global cities measured. Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh was ranked third in the raw data, and fourth in the smoothed data.
Saudi Arabian authorities warned on Sunday that 33 percent of the new coronavirus cases in the Kingdom were due to social gatherings. The new data suggests that Saudi Arabians are now beginning to stay indoors.
Wuhan, the Chinese city which was the epicenter of the outbreak, ranked second in traffic reduction (smoothed data) after Jeddah. Chinese authorities placed the city in lockdown for weeks, but life is slowly returning as China reports low numbers of domestic cases - with Wuhan reporting no new cases for the first day since the outbreak began on Thursday.
The reduction in traffic has had a knock-on effect on air pollution levels.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the world, many countries have introduced measures to stay at home. The resulting shutdown of economic life has resulted in lower levels of air pollution as flights are grounded and factories grind to a halt. -- Al Arabiya English
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