Saudi Arabia steps up school coronavirus safeguards

If a child develops symptoms, parents should keep them out of school to avoid spreading the virus, the ministry advised. (SPA)
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Updated 02 February 2020

Saudi Arabia steps up school coronavirus safeguards

  • There have been no reported cases in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Educational facilities in Saudi Arabia have updated emergency procedures to counter the threat of coronavirus.

Saudi Minister of Education, Hamad Al-Asheikh on Saturday instructed all education departments, universities and vocational training institutes to activate emergency plans as the number of people worldwide infected with the life-threatening virus continues to rise. Symptoms include high fever, shortness of breath, sore throat and headache. There have been no reported cases in the Kingdom. According to the Saudi Ministry of Health, coronavirus is transmitted through close contact with an infected person without protection. Intensive care and treatment is the best way to deal with infection, it said.

How to protect?
The ministry said that protection against the virus can be increased by avoiding contact with live or dead animals, or animal products, and avoiding contact with people with respiratory symptoms.
If a child develops symptoms, parents should keep them out of school to avoid spreading the virus, the ministry advised.

THELIST

Health tips to avoid coronavirus:

• Cover mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing.

• Keep hands clean by washing them for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

• Disinfect and clean commonly used surfaces.

• Avoid touching eyes and nose with unclean hands.

• Avoid people with symptoms such as coughing.

Migratory birds
Meanwhile, Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) stressed the need to take adequate precautions when dealing with resident and migratory animals that can carry fungal disease.
The ministry said that preliminary information indicated that the coronavirus spreading in China is an animal disease, with the main focus on a market containing live animals including bats, rodents and reptiles, in addition to poultry.
Tests carried out in China confirmed that the virus first passed from animals to humans in the market.
The SWA said that the Kingdom lies on the migration paths of many animals coming from areas where certain diseases can be transmitted to humans.
Animals could carry the virus without showing pathological symptoms in some cases, the authority said.
The ministry said that precautionary measures to avoid infection include wearing masks and gloves, washing or disinfecting hands after handling animals and birds or their meat, treating any animal that shows symptoms of sickness with caution, and avoiding migratory birds’ habitats. The ministry urged residents to report any mass deaths of animals on the toll-free number 8002470000.


Saudi Arabia isolates neighborhoods in Jeddah governorate to fight coronavirus

Updated 05 April 2020

Saudi Arabia isolates neighborhoods in Jeddah governorate to fight coronavirus

  • Entrance to and exit from these seven neighborhoods in the Jeddah governorate is forbidden
  • Several national entities partner to launch COVID-19 research grant

JEDDAH: The Saudi Interior Ministry imposed a 24-hour curfew on seven neighborhoods in Jeddah governorate on Saturday as an additional measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The neighborhoods are: Kilo 14 South, Kilo 14 North, Al-Mahjar, Ghulail, Al-Qurayyat, Kilo 13, and Petromin. Entry and exit to these areas are forbidden. Residents can only leave their homes for health care and food needs during the period from 6:00 am to 3:00pm.

Meanwhile, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has announced an open application period for its new research grant program to support the Kingdom’s scientific efforts during the coronavirus crisis.

The fast-track program to support research into the coronavirus is aimed at providing support to institutions to develop detection and monitoring mechanisms in an accurate, fast and economical manner.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Malik, executive director for the Life Science and Environment Research Institute at KACST, told a press conference on Saturday that the grant would provide direct financial support to scientists in research centers and universities around the country.

“The program will focus on developing diagnostic and serological tests for the virus and support epidemiological surveys, artificial intelligence systems and active genetic surveillance for the new virus,” Al-Malik said.

“KACST will also allow the grant awardees to use its laboratories around the country whenever they need it,” he said.

Al-Malik is inviting researchers interested in COVID-19-related work to submit their proposals at the portal (https://covid19.kacst.edu.sa/grants/) between April 4 to 20. Winners will be announced ten days after the deadline.

The initiative was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Saudi Health Council and the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Health Ministry has announced 140 new COVID-19 cases, two of which are related to travel, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,179 with 1,730 of them still active cases.

While the number of recoveries increased to 420, four new deaths were announced, three of whom were non-Saudis, increasing total deaths to 29.

During the department’s daily conference, Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly clarified that the bodies of those who died of COVID-19 were bathed and shrouded according to Islamic tradition by trained health practitioners or under the ministry’s supervision to ensure everybody’s safety.

“Their dignity is maintained from the moment they pass away until burial . . . after completing all these procedures (bathing and shrouding) under our supervision, the body no longer carries the infection.”

The ministry advises people to get their information from official sources and has dedicated a web page for updates about disease numbers in the Kingdom (covid19.moh.gov.sa).