150 Members of Saudi Arabia Royal Family 'are Infected with Coronavirus'
King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman 'have both gone into isolation to avoid the outbreak'
Up to 150 members of Saudi Arabia's royal family "are infected with coronavirus," according to reports from the Arab nation.
The country's leaders, King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman, have both gone into isolation to avoid the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, reports added.
Doctors are treating members of the royal family at the elite King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh.
The same hospital is currently preparing an additional 500 beds for an expected influx of VIP patients.
"Directives are to be ready for VIPs from around the country," the operators of the facility said.
The operators' comments were written in a "high alert" sent out electronically to senior doctors on Tuesday and later obtained by the New York Times.
The message said they don't know how many cases they will get but that all chronic patients are to be moved out as soon as possible and only top urgent cases will be accepted.
Any infected staff members will now be treated at a less elite hospital to save room for royals.
Salman, 84, has secluded himself on an island palace near Jeddah, while the crown prince has moved to a remote site on the Red Sea coast.
The number of Saudi princes is in the thousands and many travel frequently to Europe where it has been suggested they picked up the virus before bringing it home.
The Saudi royal family is estimated to have about 15,000 members.
Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - the governor of the capital Riyadh who is in his 70s - is in intensive care after contracting the virus, according to The New York Times.
The country of about 33 million people has reported 2,932 cases and 41 deaths.
So far, mostly members of lower branches of the royal family have been infected, a source told the Times.
Saudi Arabia is expecting up to 200,000 coronavirus cases within weeks, the country's health minister said on Tuesday.
"Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000," said minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah, according to state media.
Rabiah, who warned the kingdom faces a "critical moment" in the fight against the virus, said the projection was based on four studies by Saudi and international experts.
Some Saudi cities including the capital Riyadh are under a 24-hour curfew imposed by the interior minister.
Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf are also under lockdown, as well as the regions of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar.
The Gulf port of Dammam is a major entry point for supplies for the country's oil industry.
The holy cities of Mecca and Medina have also been sealed off, throwing this year's hajj pilgrimage into doubt.
Authorities last week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage, but have yet to say whether the hajj will go ahead.
As in many Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia's first case was a patient who had recently traveled to Iran, which was one of the early hotspots in the pandemic.