The coronavirus is striking at the heart of the kingdom’s sprawling royal family, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The daily said that a senior Saudi prince who is governor of Riyadh is in intensive care with the coronavirus, adding that several dozen other members of the royal family have been sickened as well.
Doctors at the elite hospital that treats Al-Saud clan members are preparing as many as 500 beds for an expected influx of other royals and those closest to them, NYT cited an internal “high alert” sent out by hospital officials.
“Directives are to be ready for V.I.P.s from around the country,” the operators of the elite facility, the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, wrote in the alert, sent electronically Tuesday night to senior doctors. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.
“We don’t know how many cases we will get but high alert,” the message stated, instructing that “all chronic patients to be moved out ASAP,” and that only “top urgent cases” will be accepted. It said any sick staff members would now be treated at a less elite hospital to make room for the royals.
As many as 150 royals in the kingdom are now believed to have contracted the virus, including members of its lesser branches, NYT quoted a person close to the family as saying.
It added that King Salman, 84, has secluded himself for his safety in an island palace near the city of Jeddah on the Red Sea, while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his son and the 34-year-old de facto ruler, has retreated with many of his ministers to the remote site on the same coast where he has promised to build a futuristic city known as Neom.
The daily said the affliction of the al-Saud royal clan is the latest evidence of the pandemic’s egalitarianism.
“The virus afflicts the richest princes and the poorest migrant workers with no discrimination — at least, until the moment they begin to seek testing or treatment,” it added.
Source: The New York Times