Coronavirus: 85 Singaporeans evacuated from Saudi Arabia after kingdom suspended commercial flights

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Saudi Arabia has evacuated 85 Singaporean citizens and residents who were left stranded in the kingdom after it suspended all its commercial flights in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) confirmed on Friday, April 24, that it had arranged a special repatriation flight for the Singaporeans stranded in Saudi Arabia.

The flight carrying the Singaporeans landed in Singapore's Changi Airport on the morning of Friday, April 24, the MFA said in a statement.

Rturnees include 40 students

The group included 40 students who had been studying in Saudi Arabia and their dependents.

The special charted flight and all ground arrangements for the repatriation were made in coordination with the Singapore embassy in Riyadh and the Singapore Consulate General in Jeddah.

"The Singapore Government would like to express gratitude to the Saudi government for facilitating the safe return of our Singapore residents," the MFA said in its statement.

Self-isolation for returnees

The MFA said all the returnees will go into self-isolation for two weeks at dedicated facilities in the country.

Saudi Arabia has been repatriating a lot of foreign tourists, students and workers to their homeland despite the air space being closed for commercial flights.

The embassies of the UK and the US in the kingdom have been working with Saudi Arabian airlines (Saudia) to arrange special flights to repatriate their citizens.

The kingdom has reportedly repatriated more than 1,100 British citizens to the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Online registration for repatriation

Saudi Arabia has asked foreign citizens who are currently stranded in the country and wish to return to their homeland to register online for repatriation on Absher, the official register of the Saudi Interior ministry. The registration process is explained on the site.

Saudi Arabia is arranging repatriation flights as directed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The Ministry of Interior has announced only four airports will handle repatriation. These include the airports at Jeddah, Riyadh, Medina and Dammam.

Permission to fly home will be granted only after Saudi authorities have examined the applications received on Absher, the Ministry said in a statement. Once the permission is granted, those who wish to return to their homeland will have to upload the details of their date of journey, ticket number and booking details on the website.

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