BY Shahid Nayeem
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has approved corona vaccines, Sinovac and Sinopharm, along with
Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna.
The Ministry of Health said it was possible for those who had completed their vaccination program with Sinopharm or Sinovac to be accepted in the Kingdom, provided they had received a booster shot of a vaccine that was approved in the country.
Earlier, the Saudi Ministry of Interior has issued directives to allow direct entry of fully vaccinated expatriates from countries facing a travel ban.
The diplomatic missions of the concerned countries have confirmed the development with the Tribune Wired.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh welcomed the Saudi government’s decision to allow direct travel from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. The embassy thanked the wise Saudi leadership for the great decision that will benefit thousands of Pakistani expatriates.
Indonesian Consul General Eko Hartono also welcomed the Saudi decision.
Saudi Arabia had temporarily had suspended all international flights from March 15, 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the suspension of international flight service lifted after one year on May 17, 2021, it was not applicable to 20 countries due to the coronavirus situation in those countries.
The countries that faced the ban were Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, Lebanon, and Egypt, Germany, the United States, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Swiss Confederation, and France.
It was also instructed that those coming from other countries if they had passed through any of these 20 countries during the 14 days preceding their application to enter the Kingdom.
The diplomatic missions as well as the expatriate community leaders and businessmen hailed the much-awaited decision.
The new decision will be applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (iqama) and left the Kingdom on exit and re-entry visa after taking two doses of vaccine against coronavirus from Saudi Arabia.
Currently, the countries facing the travel ban are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.
All other segments are required to spend 14-day quarantine in a third country before their entry into the Kingdom.
Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Bukhari confirmed receiving the directive from MOFA toward lifting the suspension of direct travel to Saudi Arabia from Lebanon
Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that the embassy had received a circular from the Agency for Foreign Missions at MOFA in which it says that the competent authority had issued approval for lifting the suspension of a direct entry to the Kingdom for residents from the travel suspended countries.
Only those residents who have received two doses of coronavirus vaccination before their departure from the Kingdom will be the beneficiaries of the decision, and that all precautionary measures will be applicable to them, he said, while quoting the circular.