King Salman 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.
The governor of Riyadh is in the intensive Care Unit (ICU) with the coronavirus. Several dozen other members of the royal family have been sickened as well.
The doctors at the elite hospital that treats Al-Saud clan members are also preparing more than 500 beds for an expected influx of other royals and those closest to them.
As many as 150 royals in the kingdom are now believed to have contracted the virus, including members of its lesser branches, according to a person close to the family.
Senior officials at the hospital said, “We don’t know how many cases we will get, 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.
More than six weeks after Saudi Arabia reported its first case, the coronavirus is striking terror into the heart of the kingdom’s royal family.