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

Updated 21 May 2013

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.


DiplomaticQuarter: US ambassador lauds Saudi Arabia for successful Hajj season

Updated 06 August 2020

DiplomaticQuarter: US ambassador lauds Saudi Arabia for successful Hajj season

  • The envoy also praised Saudi hospitality during the Hajj season

RIYADH: US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid has lauded the Kingdom for its successful and safe organization of the curtailed Hajj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The envoy also praised Saudi hospitality during the Hajj season and expressed his appreciation for the country’s generosity.

“On behalf of the US Mission to Saudi Arabia, I extend our best wishes to all Muslims in Saudi Arabia and around the world on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha,” Abizaid said in a statement.

He thanked the Saudi leadership for the care and services provided to the specially selected group of around 1,000 pilgrims of various nationalities allowed to perform Hajj.

“I would also like to express our deep appreciation to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten, and Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh for the government’s actions to protect the health of those participating in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. 

“I also extend our gratitude to the people of Saudi Arabia for their kind hospitality, friendship, and generosity during Eid and throughout the eight decades of our two countries’ close partnership. May the prayers for peace of all people around the world be heard,” he added.

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) also commended Saudi Arabia for its efforts in organizing Hajj.

WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the steps taken by the Kingdom to ensure the safety of pilgrims and said the preventive measures had set an example for other countries to follow in working toward lifting COVID-19 restrictions.