Up to 150 Members of the Saudi Royal Family Infected With Coronavirus: Report

As many as 150 members of the Saudi Arabian royal family may have been infected with coronavirus, according to a new report.

The infections are supposedly a key element in the Saudi decision to announce a ceasefire in Yemen, where Riyadh has been battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels on behalf of the country's deposed president since 2015.

According to The New York Times, as many as 150 Saudi royals are believed to have contracted the virus, including members of the lesser branches of the extensive family. The Times cited a person close to the family as giving the information. Newsweek has contacted the Saudi government and its embassy in Washington, D.C. for comment.

Saudi Arabia reported its first coronavirus case six weeks ago. There have now been 2,932 confirmed cases in the kingdom, with 41 deaths and 631 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Among them—according to the Times—is the senior prince and Riyadh governor Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The prince, a nephew of King Salman, is in intensive care, according to doctors at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital—an elite institution where royals are cared for—who spoke to the Times.

An internal memo sent around the hospital has said that up to 500 beds have been prepared for royals and those close to them as the pandemic takes hold. King Salman, 84, is self-isolating at an island palace near the city of Jeddah on the country's Red Sea coast.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 34—the royal heir widely considered the true power behind the throne—is holed up with ministers at another property on the Red Sea coast, the Times said.

Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah has warned that the country's coronavirus battle is only just beginning, predicting "a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000" infections over the coming weeks.

Saudi Arabia has shut down travel to and from the country and placed its largest cities under 24-hour lockdown, with limited exceptions. Officials may also cancel the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, which brings some 2.5 million pilgrims to the city each year.

Saudi Arabia, royal family, MBS, coronavirus
This file photo shows Saudi King Salman flanked by his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a session of the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 10, 2019. FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.