SMS campaign fights MERS

Updated 18 May 2014

SMS campaign fights MERS

The Ministry of Health is sending SMS to residents to dispel myths surrounding coronavirus.
The SMS reassures residents that the virus does not spread unless there has been direct contact with pneumonia patients.
Restaurants are empty and schools have recorded high absenteeism among teachers and students thanks to rumors going rampant on social media sites.
In fact, schools have requested the Ministry of Education to look into the matter and declare a tentative break until the situation improves.
“People should not panic because the rumors far outweigh the reality,” said one doctor working at a prominent hospital in Jeddah, who requested anonymity. “My wife received a message that my hospital admitted 170 coronavirus patients, when in reality we don’t have a single one.”
“One patient had been suspected but has not been diagnosed,” he said. “There were even rumors that our ER had shut down, which were wholly untrue.”
Hospitals are empty because of these rumors, which is not a bad thing since residents have been advised to avoid large crowds, he said. “Taking precautionary measures is advisable, but this does not have to spin out of control into a case of collective panic.”
“Getting the coronavirus does not mean you will die,” he said. “Furthermore, falling ill with the flu at this time does not mean it is the coronavirus.”
The Health Ministry is combating rumors that hospitals have been shut down in Jeddah through several portals, said Mansour Al-Suwaidan, project manager of the Health Information Systems implementation project (HIS). “The ministry has established toll free number 8002494444 and a Twitter account (@saudimoh) to help put residents at ease.”
The ministry has also established a website link on their portal, mainly to educate members of the public about the virus and shed light on several cases, he said. “Several TV programs are also discussing the issue and reaffirming the fact that the ministry has not notified schools or hospitals to shut down.”
“The coronavirus does not spread easily among humans,” said Abdullah Asiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive medicine and member of the National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases. “You need to be in direct contact with a pneumonia patient. To date, there has not been a single case that has been associated with large crowds, such as in Haj or Umrah, or at schools or stadiums."
“There has also been no proven correlation between climate change in the Kingdom and an increase in the incidence of the virus,” said Asiri. “We had, however, noted an increase in the number of cases at around the same time last year.”
The virus had not disappeared between these two periods, he said. "Cases are recorded every month, which are announced by the ministry only when confirmed."
Asiri said the ministry has come up with two mechanisms to combat the spread of the virus.
The first is to identify the origin of the virus in animals in coordination with other ministries, he said. “This will be done through studying the characteristics of animals found to be carrying and transmitting the virus.”
The other is to accurately diagnose infected patients in order to implement swift quarantine and treatment procedures, he said. “The more accurate the diagnosis, the quicker health workers and other patients can be protected.”
Developing an anti-corona vaccine is a tough, technologically sophisticated mission, he said. As such, current efforts are centered on prevention and treatment while research on developing the vaccine continues, he added.
In fact, epidemiology and infection experts at the committee have stressed that preventive and therapeutic measures in fighting the disease are sufficient and meet international requirements.


Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

Updated 31 min 16 sec ago

Global stars shine at Saudi leisure forum

  • “It (Saudi Movies) will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi,” Shahrukh Khan 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia took another step toward establishing its place on the global entertainment map with a major industry event in Riyadh on Sunday.

The Joy Forum19 brought together entertainment promoters and pioneers from around the world, along with global stars such as Indian actor and film producer Shah Rukh Khan; Hong Kong martial artist, actor, film director Jackie Chan and Belgian actor and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The event was organized by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), which signed several important agreements on the day, including a financing guarantee program for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Participants are ushered in on the first day of the Joy Forum19 event in Riyadh. (Social media photo)

“Our message is for both, locally and internationally. Me and my generation suffered a lot, we had lots of time on our hands,” GEA chairman Turki Al-Sheikh said at the event.

“Today you are witnessing things we have never had in Saudi Arabia. We have 300,000 visitors to our events, and our sales have hit 80 percent.

“Saudi Arabia has never seen anything like Riyadh Season, we have over 400 sponsors, which is unprecedented.”

Al-Sheikh announced that the authority had named a stadium after singer Mohammed Abdo, the “Artist of Arabs,” and another after Abu Baker Salim, the father of Khaleeji music. 


READ MORE: Three MoUs signed at opening day of Joy Forum19 in Riyadh



Drunken master

The actors expressed what it meant to be movie stars and how wide-reaching their influence could be.

Jackie Chan recalled that when he was a new actor, he often acted like a drunken fighter until he realized that he has a responsibility towards younger fans. 

Jackie Chan: no longer a "drunken master". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“All over the world I keep drinking and fighting (in films).  I realized that I made drunken master cool — so I stopped,” he said. One of Chan's most popular movies was the 1978 action comedy martial arts film "Drunken Master".

“When you’re 20 you don’t have this inner thought — anything that makes the audience laugh you do, but later on especially (when I went) to Africa so many years ago — they started doing the drunken style — the children look up to me. So, I realized we have a responsibility to the children so all those years I corrected those actions: no dirty comedy words or action,” he said.

He attributed his awareness in being responsible for the content he produces to the fans. “I’m really thankful to the fans in making me a good actor.”

Chan spoke about his experience in acting martial arts in both the United States and Asia. “I realized we have two different markets one for America another for Asia. They are totally two different things.”

The safety measures the US takes for stunts is very impeccable making sure of the wellbeing of the actor comes first. However, in Asia it’s a different story, “In Asia when I want to do a stunt, I roll, jump (and then go to the) hospital, he said laughingly.

“It’s so difficult sometimes in the USA so many rules- Jackie Chan movies: NO RULES!” he said and received applause from the audience.

 

Good start

Jean Claude Van Damme gave a shout out and a big thank you to all his “brother and sisters from Saudi Arabia,” He said he got a royal treatment fit for “Kings and Queens”. He went on to reveal that his hotel room at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh was so big he could easily “roller-skate” in it.

Jean Claude Van Damme: "Let's do a movie together". (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

“I’m honored to be invited here. I know it’s your first time to do this event, but I know it will have a very bright future and I hope next year you will invite more people,” he said.

He said he may not be a “good talker” but expressed his joy at being in Saudi Arabia saying. “I’m happy to be here and I hope to have more connection later with the audience.”

Van Damme remarked how that in every country in the world you have treasure actors and movies with different cultures, “In the Middle East I don’t know what the taste will be, but I know they love American, Asian and Indian movies. They have a broad taste. (Saudi Arabia) should do a movie with all of us together!”

 

Crossing barriers

Sharukh Khan emphasized the importance of every country telling their story through movies; “As long as we are telling the story in whatever language it doesn’t matter. Cinema crosses all barriers.”
 

Shahrukh Khan: "I'd audition for a Saudi movie". (Social media photo)

With the opening of Saudi Arabia to the world and Cinemas, he said, “I can’t wait to talk about the Saudi films...It will bring Saudis closer to the world and the world closer to Saudi.”

“The stories that you tell should talk about goodness and people should be engaged with the content and it should bring them together. People want to laugh and sadly have to cry, to be entertained and to feel.”

Sharukh noted that Saudi Arabia has started to make movies and he’s watched the King Faisal movie, "Born a King". 

“You’ll always find gems in all movie industries and I think there’s are gems in Saudi and as a matter of fact one of the things I’d like to do is audition for a Saudi movie … Please give me an opportunity!” he said, eliciting a thunderous applause from the audience.


Red carpet

Abdulaziz AlMuzaini, co-founder and CEO of the Saudi Arabian Myrkott Animation Studio; gave a heartfelt thanks full of gratitude to King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying: “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have dreamed of this moment or this panel.”

Some of the celebrities invited to the event walk the red carpet. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

Lebanese actor Wahid Jalal, who was the voice of Long John Silver in Treasure Island, came onstage for the opening of the event. “Children love heroes and they try to imitate them,” he said. 

He also delighted the crowd by performing Silver’s famous laugh.

Some of the celebrities who walked down the red carpet were American actor Jason Momoa, star of Aquaman; Amr Adeeb, Balqis Fathi, Yusra, Boosy Shalabi, Lojien and Aseel Omran, Mohammed Hamaki, Nawal AlZoghbi, Talal Salama, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, Hussain AlJismi, Suad Abdulla, Ibrahem Alharbi, Tariq Alali and Abdulnaser Darweesh.

The gala dinner hosted 500 guests and was a private event, but the red carpet captured the essence of where Saudi is moving to culturally.