COVID-19: KAUST high-risk regions and travel instructions

COVID-19 Update 9

Posted on Mar 01, 2020

As of March 1, 2020, there are no confirmed cases at KAUST or in Saudi at this time.  

Key messages contained in this update:
  • All non-essential international travel and visitors should be postponed 
  • Update to list of high-risk regions and confirmation of measures implemented by Saudi Arabian Government
  • Video of last Thursday’s COVID-19 Community Townhall meeting

Evolving Situation

As mentioned in Thursday’s Update 8 and in the COVID-19 Townhall, the spread of the virus continues to escalate around the world with the World Health Organization now raising the ‘risk of global spread’ to ‘very high’.  

In addition, there have now been several confirmed cases in countries much closer to Saudi Arabia.  This has resulted in the Saudi Arabian government implementing enhanced measures which aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the Kingdom.

The Coronavirus Taskforce is continuously adapting as required based on the latest information relating to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. As a result of the above information, the KAUST Coronavirus Taskforce has reviewed the current information provided by the WHO, the Saudi Government and the responses of other organizations around the world to make sure ours is aligned.  The information below supersedes any previous communication.

Measures taken by the Saudi Arabian Government

On Thursday, February 27, for the first time since COVID-19 was discovered, the number of confirmed cases around the rest of world increase by more than those in China.  Many cases were confirmed in Iran and other neighboring countries.  

The Saudi Arabian Government has since taken further positive and proactive measures to minimize the risk of the virus reaching the Kingdom.  It was stressed that these measures are temporary and will be continually reviewed.  They include:

  • The temporary suspension of international entry to the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque;
  • The temporary suspension for GCC citizens from travelling to Mecca and Medina (unless they have been in Saudi Arabia for at least 14-days beforehand);
  • Suspending entry into the Kingdom for those travelling under tourist visas for a total of 24 countries/regions (see table 1 below);
  • Restricting entry to the Kingdom for all individuals (excluding Saudi citizens and those with residential status) who have been to, or transited through the following 6 countries/regions within 14 days of planned arrived in the Kingdom:
    • China
    • Taiwan (Chinese Taipei)
    • Iran
    • Italy
    • Republic of Korea
    • Macau
  • Nationals of GCC countries are no longer allowed to enter Saudi Arabia with a national ID card.  They must travel with their passports except for passengers who entered a country with their ID card and wish to return to their home country.

Additional measures taken by KAUST

KAUST has consistently taken a precautionary approach for measures implemented to minimize the risk of COVID-19 arriving here.

KAUST is following and adhering to Saudi Government regulations and advice. KAUST-specific measures are complementary to the government regulations.  We already have many of these in place and are now implementing further protections to mitigate risk to our community and the University business operations.

The table below shows the list of Saudi Government countries/regions (MOH) and the list of KAUST countries that have restrictions placed on them (as of March 1, 2020).


KAUST-designated high-risk

Those regions highlighted in blue - are those KAUST have designated as high-risk regions (except Italy – which is being expanded to the whole country as of today):
  • KAUST residents currently in those regions should remain where they are
  • No business travel to those regions
  • No visitors (business or personal) will be admitted to KAUST from those regions

KAUST-designated medium-risk

Those regions highlighted in green - are those KAUST have designated as medium-risk regions:

  • No visitors with tourist visas will be admitted to KAUST, in line with Saudi government restriction.

KAUST travel restrictions for COVID-19

In addition to categorizing which countries/regions have which levels of restriction the Taskforce wanted to clarify the position on residents travel and visitors to KAUST.  The below information is implemented from February 29 and supersedes all previous communications.

Keep in mind that government-issued travel and screening mandates, airline operations, and KAUST advice could change while you are away, impacting your return plans. If this happens while you are in that location you, and anyone with you, may be required to remain away from KAUST for an indefinite period.
 
KAUST International Business Travel:
  • ALL travel to or from KAUST-designated high-risk regions must be postponed
  • All non-essential international travel should be postponed until further notice
    • Strongly recommend against all other international business travel outside of the high-risk regions
    • What defines “essential travel” is to be determined by each individual along with their line manager/supervisor.
      • While we appreciate the significant costs that may be associated with travel booked before travel restrictions were put into place, KAUST is not responsible for refunds or reimbursements relating to personal travel adjustments. We suggest contacting the hotel/airline and/or your travel insurance provider to discuss options.
  • Essential travel that does take place should be recorded on the travel booking log

Personal International Travel
  • Strongly recommend against all international personal travel at this time and ask all KAUST community members to review their upcoming plans
  • If you are unable to return to KAUST due to any COVID-19 related travel restriction, additional costs will be your responsibility, and any additional time away from work must be taken as annual or unpaid leave. 
  • Essential travel that does take place should be recorded on the travel booking log.

Visitors to KAUST
  • We strongly recommend against all international business and personal visitors.
  • All non-essential international business visitors should be postponed until further notice. What defines "essential travel" is to be determined by each individual along with their line manager/supervisor.
  • Business or personal visitors are not permitted to enter KAUST that are travelling from KAUST-designated high-risk regions (including to or through high-risk regions within 14-days of arrival at KAUST).
  • Personal visitors with tourist visas - travelling from medium-risk regions will not be permitted into the Kingdom.

In Kingdom travel
There are currently no restrictions on travel or visitors within Saudi Arabia at this moment in time. However, until further notice, the weekend bus services provided by KAUST to Makkah and Medina have been cancelled.

If you are impacted by these restrictions and require assistance, please contact us at Patient-relations@kaust.edu.sa for support. 

COVID-19 Community Townhall  - Thank you

 


The Coronavirus Taskforce held a Townhall Meeting on Thursday, February 27 to discuss topics related to the KAUST approach to preventing COVID-19. The goal of this event was to provide you with information, updates, and support as well as to answer any questions you may have. 

We thank everyone for their attendance and participation. The Townhall was well attended both in-person as well as with more than 200 people joining via video link.  Many questions were asked, both prior to the event and via the interactive application during the discussion. The Taskforce has committed to sharing the recording and publishing answers to all questions in the coming days on the KAUST Health website.  



More information

The KAUST Coronavirus Taskforce continues to meet regularly to adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation. We are committed to responding in a proportionate and appropriate manner to support and safeguard the community. Our priority is to keep you safe and well.

More information the KAUST response to COVID-19 is available at kh.kaust.edu.sa/coronavirus, including:
  • Additional instructions for people who are planning travel or are currently in high-risk regions
  • Information about conferences and events
  • Prevention resources and advice
  • And more…

Thank you for participating in keeping our community safe and well.

COVID-19 Update 9