İrem UZUN -TDO- Dozens of U.S. diplomats and their families will leave Saudi Arabia on Saturday amid a sharp increase in cases of coronavirus infection in the kingdom, the Wall Street Journal reports. More are expected to fly out in the coming weeks, officials familiar with the plan told the WSJ, after the U.S. State Department approved the voluntary departure of "non-emergency personnel".
According to U.S. officials, at least 30 employees of the US Embassy in Riyadh-mostly non – Americans – have contracted the coronavirus, despite mostly working from home since March. In June, an Embassy driver died of coronavirus, and later a family member of one of the diplomats was denied emergency medical care in a hospital. The Embassy had to intervene. Diplomats expressed concern about their safety as the pandemic "stretches Saudi Arabia's healthcare system to its limits," the WSJ reported. The WSJ also said "Foreign residents, including Americans, have complained of being denied medical treatment or coronavirus testing".
Earlier it was reported that the number of cases of coronavirus in Saudi Arabia exceeded 200 thousand. Despite a steady increase in the name of coronavirus patients, Saudi Arabia began gradually easing restrictions at the end of May, allowing domestic flights and movements between provinces. Mosques have started working again in the country. Lifting of restrictions have therefore further increased the concerns of U.S. diplomats.