Dozens of members of the ruling Saudi royal family, as many as 150, have been infected with coronavirus in recent weeks, a news report said.
Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – 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. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) have retreated into isolation to avoid the outbreak. Doctors at an elite hospital that treats royals are preparing 500 more beds for an expected influx of patients. “Directives are to be ready for VIPs from around the country,” the operators of the elite facility, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, wrote in a “high alert” sent out electronically on Tuesday to senior doctors and later obtained by the Times.
It’s going to get worse
So far, mostly members of lower branches of the royal family have been infected, a source familiar with the situation told the Times. The vast majority of cases in the country have been in migrant labour camps and slums around Mecca and Medina. But as the outbreak in the country spreads, Salman, the 84-year-old king, secluded himself on an island palace near Jeddah, while the crown prince has moved to a remote site on the Red Sea coast. A Saudi health minister on Tuesday warned the outbreak in the country may only be beginning.
“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.