COVID-19 Clusters Shutter Yemen, Philippines Embassies in Saudi Arabia

Yemen and the Philippines have been forced to close their respective diplomatic missions in Riyadh after staff contracted the coronavirus.

  • By externalwire | June 14, 2020,11:49 am

With over 123,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest counts in the Gulf, and the latest embassy closures show that even diplomatic missions have not managed to escape the novel virus.  

The Embassy of Yemen, located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh, announced its closure through its official Facebook page at 6 p.m. on the evening of Saturday, June 13. 

“The Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Riyadh announces suspension of work from tomorrow Sunday, 14/6/2020 indefinitely due to the emergence of a number of cases of Coronavirus-19,” the post read.

“The embassy wishes everyone good health and wellness,” it concluded. The Yemeni Embassy had long been closed to the public due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Saudi Arabia and only began accepting consular appointments again on June 11. 

Meanwhile, on June 10, the Embassy of the Philippines, also located in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, said it would also be forced to close again, “effective June 14 2020 until further notice,” after identifying a coronavirus cluster among staff of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO).  

“POLO-Riyadh officials and staff need to undergo quarantine processes after several of them recently tested positive for COVID-19,” the embassy said in an official press release. 

“Embassy personnel who recently came in contact with the infected POLO-Riyadh employees shall also undergo quarantine and COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of the transacting public,” it added.    

The statement did not specify how many staff members were infected with COVID-19, but Arab Times reports six staff members tested positive for the virus. The office will be subject to deep cleaning and sterilization while staff work from home, according to the same source.  

Services at the Embassy of the Philippines, which only reopened on June 7, will not be affected. POLO-Riyadh personnel will continue to offer client services and counselling over the phone, the embassy added.

Read also: A New Caste: Houthis Divide Yemen with Tax Reform

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