AGENCIES, Washington: Nearly 150 members of the Saudi royal family have been infected by the coronavirus and an elite hospital that treats members of the ruling clan has set aside 500 beds in anticipation of a surge in their numbers, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman, the de facto ruler of the country, did not appear to be among those infected. The monarch has isolated himself in a palace on an island on the Red Sea, and the crown prince is sheltering with senior member of his government at a remote site where he has planned to build a futuristic city, the publication said.
It cited an internal memo issued by the hospital on the beds being set aside. “We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” the message said, instructing that “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP.”
A senior royal who is governor of Riyadh is among those infected and is in intensive care, the report said.
The coronavirus does not discriminate, as it has demonstrated. US Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained in ICU in London for the third day on Thursday, and many members of the Iranian government are reported to have been infected.
Saudi Arabia has nearly 3,300 confirmed infections and 44 deaths. But the kingdom began its mitigation effort even before the first case was reported , air travel was suspended on March 2 and so was pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. There are indications the kingdom may cancel this year’s Haj pilgrimage, which has been held annually without interruption since 1798.