Saudi Arabia remains free of coronavirus

Passengers coming from China wearing masks to prevent a new coronavirus are checked by Saudi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at King Khalid International Airport, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 29, 2020. (REUTERS)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Saudi Arabia remains free of coronavirus

  • Precautionary measures in place to keep virus at bay

RIYADH: The Saudi Health Ministry reaffirmed on Monday that the Kingdom remained free of coronavirus and the authorities are taking all measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Arrangements are in place at the Kingdom’s airports to screen passengers arriving from China via direct and indirect flights.
Quarantine rooms have also been established in hospitals to tackle any untoward situation.
The health chiefs, meanwhile, declared 10 Saudi students flown home from Wuhan in China this week free from any infection.
The group will remain in quarantine under full medical supervision for two weeks, while further tests are carried out. Video footage posted on social media showed them relaxing in their special accommodation inside a Saudi health facility.
The students were the only Saudis in Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first identified on Dec. 1. About 800 Saudis, mainly women and children, had flown home from other parts of China, the Saudi Ambassador in Beijing, Turki Al-Madi, told Arab News.
“We are helping all Saudis in China and facilitating the return of the remaining families,” he said.  The ambassador said he believed the Chinese authorities were doing a good job in containing the spread of the disease.

HIGHLIGHT

• Passengers arriving from China via direct and indirect flights are being screened.

• A command and control center has been established at the Health Ministry.

• Quarantine rooms have also been established in hospitals to tackle any untoward situation.

Since the outbreak of the virus, a command and control center has been established at the Health Ministry to ensure coordinated efforts to keep the virus at bay.
The center, in cooperation with relevant authorities, is implementing international health regulations required under such circumstances and as recommended by the World Health Organization.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
In severe cases, the infection can lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory syndrome.
The virus has infected more than 17,000 people in 27 countries, and killed 362, almost all in China. Saudis had “no need to panic” if they took preventive measures, Dr. Aisha Metwali, coordinator at the infection control department of King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Jeddah, told Arab News.
These included attention to basic hygiene, and avoiding large gatherings and crowded places, she said.


Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

Updated 10 April 2020

Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

  • Saudi mothers relate challenges in keeping their children from getting bored amid nationwide lockdown

RIYADH: School’s out for the foreseeable future, but every child’s dream is every mother’s worst nightmare. With nowhere else to go during the day, and most entertainment venues in the city cordoned off, mothers are discussing how the crisis has affected them, and more importantly, what they’re doing to control it.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, an assistant professor at REU, told Arab News about how she and her three children (4th grade, 1st grade, and nursery) were coping with the new social distancing policy and the challenges it posed for their education.

“In the beginning, during the first few days, their schools weren’t yet prepared for the sudden shutdown. It took them almost a week to prepare themselves,” she said.

Despite a somewhat bumpy beginning, things are starting to pick up. 

“They have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time,” she said.

However, she struggles with getting the children out of “vacation mode,” and convincing them that they still need to study.

“That’s the main challenge in all of this. It’s quite difficult to control the kids around the house, especially since you can’t take them out. They’re jumping around all over the place. They’re doing their homework, but their brains just aren’t in the zone for it,” she said.

They (children) have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, assistant professor

She hopes that things return to normal soon, or at the very least that a clear plan for the future will emerge after the proposed isolation period is up.

“I hope it doesn’t last for long, especially for primary classes. It is difficult to continue online; they need to interact with their teachers. It is a great pressure on us as moms, we can’t fulfill the role of teachers who are more experienced with children. I am in the academic field myself but I don’t have experience with kids,” she said.

She also has concerns about what these decisions could mean for her children’s academic future and hopes everything will be resolved soon.

“Are they going to give the kids exams or they will end school without them and just count the first term results? Are they going to stop and continue earlier at the beginning of the next academic year? This unclear vision of what will happen is creating the panic between most moms,” she said.

She also has advice for mothers going through the same thing. 

“Have more patience, support and encourage your kids to do more reading, and not only academic reading. Look at the positive side and make use of this long vacation in increasing the knowledge and skills of your kids,” she said.

Dr. May Al-Khudhairy, dean of the College of Applied Medical Sciences at Riyadh Elm University, is making the most of the time she is spending at home with her four children.

“I love having them home because during the week they get home so late that I don’t spend enough quality time with them. I’m even reconsidering all their after-school activities. I’ve forgotten how this time is precious and we need to savor it as long as possible,” she said.

With colleges across the country closed until further notice, Al-Khudhairy is also working from home, a situation that makes it easier to supervise her children and make sure their schoolwork gets done. 

“We sit outdoors and work parallel. The older kids will do their school assignments, and the youngest does her simple Pre-K activities that I find online, from sites like Storynory and Pinterest,” she said.

She recommends that mothers try to keep children occupied with tasks that can be both informative and entertaining. 

“We bake brownies and cupcakes and do experiments, like creating slime at home. Anything to keep busy. They paint, and every day they change it around. And of course, we wash our hands a zillion times a day,” she said.