Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has approved an additional package of measures to help the private sector deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its finance minister said.
The package includes 50 billion riyals ($266 million) to accelerate payment of private sector dues, provide liquidity to several sectors and cover wages of those working in passenger transport, Mohammed Al Jadaan said on Wednesday.
Another 47 billion riyals has been set aside for the health sector, to be disbursed as needed to build capacity, he added. In March, Saudi Arabia allocated 70 billion riyals to support businesses and postponed some government fees and taxes. It said 9 billion riyals would be disbursed to cover part of the wages of private sector workers to deter layoffs.
The country of some 30 million people reported 493 more cases of the novel coronavirus and six deaths on Wednesday to take its total to 5,862 with 79 deaths, the highest among the six Gulf Arab states.
The number of infections in the region has risen steadily despite containment measures taken by several states including suspending passenger flights, imposing curfews and closing most public venues. The count in the six countries has surpassed 18,000 with some 128 deaths.
Several Gulf states have said there has been a growing number of infections among low income foreign workers who live in overcrowded housing.
Saudi Arabia’s education ministry said on Wednesday that more than 3,400 shuttered schools in the kingdom would be used to rehouse migrant workers from cramped accommodation. Neighboring Bahrain is doing the same.