WHO endorses Saudi steps to check coronavirus; death toll at 15

Updated 21 May 2013
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WHO endorses Saudi steps to check coronavirus; death toll at 15

A visiting World Health Official has said other countries can learn from the experience of Saudi Arabia in fighting the coronavirus, which has killed 15 people in the kingdom so far.
Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of the WHO’s Health Security and Environment, said the kingdom has taken the coronavirus situation seriously and its Ministry of Health has initiated public health action, including intensifying surveillance, initiating investigations and research and putting preventive measures in place.
“One of the reasons why more cases have been identified in KSA may be because they have gone ahead to strengthen their surveillance system, lab capacity and network,” he said in a joint press conference with Saudi health officials in Riyadh on Sunday.
Upon invitation from the kingdom, a team of health experts arrived in the country on Friday to assess the status of the spread of the virus in the country. The visiting team included two WHO officials, Fukuda and Dr. Jawad, quarantine director of communicable diseases of the WHO in Cairo. The other international scientists are Dr. Connie Savor Price, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Denver Health Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Denver; Trish Burrell, consultant, infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University; Paul Tambaiah, consultant infectious diseases the University of Singapore; and Allison Mack Qier of Mount Toronto Hospital.
On Saturday, the team visited the health facilities in Hofuf and the hospital, where a number of infected cases were treated.
During the press briefing on Sunday, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said that since last September, the kingdom diagnosed 24 virus infected patients, of whom 9 died. He corrected previous reports that the virus attack was confined to Al-Ahsa province, and said there were incidences in Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh.
“We will continue to cooperate with the WHO and other international organizations in the fight against infectious diseases for the betterment of the nation,” he stressed.
Fukuda said the new virus posed an “important and major challenge” for countries affected and the world generally.
 “The greatest global concern, however, is about the potential for this new virus to spread. Of most concern, however, is the fact that the different clusters seen in multiple countries increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact this novel coronavirus can transmit from person-to-person,” he said.
“This pattern of person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters, and so far, there is no evidence that this virus has the capacity to sustain generalized transmission in communities.
Fukuda said they have seen, in their visit to Saudi Arabia, the importance of better surveillance. "When new cases are found, as is likely, it is critical for countries to report these cases and related information urgently to the WHO as required by international health regulations because this is the basis for effective international alertness, preparedness and response,” he said.
“Countries also need to assess their level of preparedness and readiness if this virus should spread and intensify the core capacities identified in the international health regulations if they are not adequate. The WHO is ready to assist countries in this region and globally in these tasks,” he said.


Saudi researchers join T20 summit in Japan

From left to right: Dr. Fahad Al-Turki, head of Saudi delegation; Kenichiro Sasae, president of The Japan Institute of International Affairs; Dr. Julia Pomares, co-chair of T20 Argentina during Argentine G-20 presidency; Kyoto Tsuji, vice-minister for Japanese foreign affairs; Naoyuki Yoshino, dean and CEO of the Asian Development Bank Institute; Gustavo Martinez, Argentine T20 executive director; Hiroshi Watanabe, president of the Institute for International Monetary Affairs pose during the event. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 27 May 2019
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Saudi researchers join T20 summit in Japan

  • Ways to fill economic infrastructure gaps, the US-China trade crisis analyzed

TOKYO: The world’s leading think tanks gathered for the G-20’s Think20 (T20) Japan Summit on Sunday in Tokyo, ahead of the upcoming G-20 Osaka Summit next month.
In the opening address, the president of the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), Kenichiro Sasae, spoke of the importance of technological advances, governance and multilateralism. 
“Technology is a tool,” he told assembled delegates. “We need two guiding symbols to harness modern technology to continue to pull economic growth. Technology has a wade-ranging impact, not only on business but also on privacy, protection.”
The T20 Summit comes amidst the backdrop of a four-day visit to the Japanese capital by US President Donald Trump.
Of the main topics discussed in closed sessions were finding innovative ways to fill economic infrastructure gaps, the US-China trade crisis, how to promote entrepreneurial ecosystems and climate change.
The host country has the privilege of selecting task forces specifically for the T20. Under the theme “Seeking a Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Society,” Japan’s T20 recommendations were based on theoretical and empirical analysis, and consist of 10 separate task forces.
They include sustainable development, climate change and environment, cooperation with Africa, Global governance and Future Politics.
Heading the Saudi T20 delegation, Dr. Fahad Al-Turki spoke to Arab News and told of the delegations’ various roles and expectations for the summit.
“We’re working with the Argentines, the Japanese and the Italians to ensure continuity on policy recommendations that will go to the G-20,” he said.
Five Saudi think tanks are being represented at the summit.
“The purpose is to have a collective effort from Saudi Arabia to represent the Kingdom at the T20. The first day went great, we talked with the authors of many of the policy briefs about our views and our recommendations,” he added.
Dr. Hossa Al-Mutairi told Arab News Saudi participation was essential, in anticipation to the 2020 G-20 Riyadh Summit.
“We participated last year as observers (at the 2018 summit in Buenos Aires), we went to learn from the Argentines, attended their sessions to understand the process of organizing T20 as well as how to select the task forces, but mainly to maintain a network with T20 members,” she said.
“One of the presentations that we had was on climate change, as Saudi Arabia cares about climate change, but we also care about economic stability. There is a connection between economics, environment and energy, you can’t separate them and we look into all energy sources.”