A news report said that hundreds of the ruling Saudi royal family, up to 150, were infected with coronavirus in recent weeks.
The New York Times, which cited the country’s hospital contacts, country doctors and common sources, says Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – the governor of Capital Riyadh who is in his 70-ies – is under intensive care following the viruses.
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.
“We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” said the message, which instructed “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP” and only “top urgent cases” will be accepted, according to the newspaper.
There are thousands of Saudi princes. Many travel regularly to Europe and some are believed to have contracted the virus abroad and brought it back to Saudi Arabia, the report said.
The kingdom of about 33 million people has reported 2,932 cases and 41 deaths.
The country, home to Islam’s holiest sites Mecca and Medina, banned the year-round Umrah pilgrimage and sealed off the areas in early March.
Authorities have yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s Hajj, scheduled for the end of July. Last year, about 2.5 million people travelled to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.