Saudi imposes 24-hour virus curfew in holy cities Apr 03, 2020 0 650 12345 AFPRiyadhSaudi Arabia on Thursday extended curfew restrictions on Islam’s two holiest cities to 24 hours to stem the spread of coronavirus as the number of deaths from the disease rose to 21.The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.“Full 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina starting from today until further notice,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an interior ministry source.The cities were earlier under a 15-hour daily curfew.Authorities have already sealed off Mecca and Medina along with Riyadh and Jeddah, barring people from entering and exiting the cities as well as prohibiting movement between all provinces.Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, is scrambling to limit the spread of the disease at home. On Thursday the health ministry said the deaths from the illness had risen to 21 while 1,885 infections were reported.Last month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round “umrah” pilgrimage over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam’s holiest cities.Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s hajj. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Iran, US heat up war of words despite COVID-19 pandemic Apr 03, 2020 0 2870 UN envoy in talks for Yemen ceasefire over coronavirus Apr 03, 2020 0 506 Nigeria virus lockdown pushes Lagos poor to the brink Apr 03, 2020 0 622 Iran parliament speaker tests positive for COVID-19 as deaths reach 3,160 Tehran Iran’s parliament speaker tested positive for COVID-19, state television reported Thursday, becoming the latest official to contract the disease in the hard hit country. Ali Larijani “was tested for .. Amnesty says Guinea security forces complicit in poll violence AFP Dakar Amnesty International on Thursday said security forces in Guinea were complicit in election-day violence which killed at least 12 people in the West African nation. Guinea voted on March 22 on whether to adopt a .. Over 250 rescued in Niger desert, put in quarantine Niamey More than 250 Europe-bound migrants were rescued in Niger’s arid north and placed in coronavirus quarantine after being abandoned by traffickers, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday. .. Israel health minister contracts virus, Netanyahu re-enters quarantine Jerusalem Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a leading member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to re-enter precautionary .. Sahel humanitarian crisis ‘spiralling’ amid virus: WFP Dakar More than five million people in Africa’s conflict-ravaged Sahel region are facing hunger, the World Food Programme said Thursday, just as the novel coronavirus is spreading into affected countries. In a ..