The senior Saudi prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi, who is Governor of Riyadh, is in intensive care with the coronavirus. Several dozen other members of the royal family have been sickened as well. The governor of the capital Riyadh who is in his 70s – is in intensive care after contracting the virus, according to The New York Times, which cited hospital communications, doctors in the country and sources familiar with the family.
The doctors at the elite hospital that treats Al-Saud clan members are preparing as many as 500 beds for an expected influx of other royals and those closest to them, according to an internal “high alert” sent out by hospital officials.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) have retreated into isolation to avoid the outbreak.
“Directives are to be ready for V.I.P.s from around the country,” the operators of the elite facility, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, wrote in the alert, sent electronically Tuesday night to senior doctors. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.
“We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” said the message, which instructed “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP” and only “top urgent cases” will be accepted, according to the newspaper.
More than six weeks after Saudi Arabia reported its first case, the coronavirus is striking terror into the heart of the kingdom’s royal family.
King Salman, 84, has secluded himself for his safety in an island palace near the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea, while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his son and the 34-year-old de facto ruler, has retreated with many of his ministers to the remote site on the same coast where he has promised to build a futuristic city known as Neom.
“Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200, 000,” Tawfiq al-Rabiah said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The Saudi royal family is estimated to have about 15,000 members. The kingdom of about 33 million people has reported 2,932 cases and 41 deaths.
(source: AL ZAZEERA, The NY Times)