Saudi Arabia imposed a 24-hour curfew in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina on Thursday to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which infected over 1,700 people in the kingdom and killed 16 people.

The Home Office said in a statement that there were some exceptions, including for key workers and residents to buy groceries and access to medical care. Cars in the residential areas of these cities can only carry one passenger to limit the transmission of the virus.

The 30 million country has taken drastic steps to contain the disease, stop international flights, close most public places and suspend the year-round Umrah pilgrimage. On Tuesday, she asked Muslims to postpone plans for the annual Haj pilgrimage until there is more clarity about the pandemic.

Some parts of the city in Mecca and Medina were already completely closed, but in the other cities the curfew was from 3 to 6 in the morning.

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