JEDDAH: Saudi citizens have swung behind China as it battles to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.
A hashtag in Chinese that translates to “We stand with the great people of China” has been circulating on Saudi social media accounts for three days, with thousands of messages of support.
Posts included: “Don’t give up, China. Don’t let the virus discourage you. We wish a speedy recovery to all those affected. We will always stand with you.”
The Saudi backing was welcomed by the Chinese Embassy in Riyadh, which responded: “Thank you very much for the hashtag. We would like to say, ‘We stand with the great people of Saudi Arabia’.”
The virus has infected nearly 35,000 people and killed 725, almost all in China, since the first case in Wuhan in Hubei province on Dec. 1. The UAE reported two more cases on Saturday, bringing the total there to seven.
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However, the number of cases being reported in China is stabilizing, the World Health Organization said on Saturday. The UN health agency said this was “good news,” but cautioned that it was too early to make any predictions about whether the virus had peaked.
“We’re in a four-day stable period where the number of reported cases hasn’t advanced,” said Michael Ryan, head of the agency’s Health Emergencies Program. “That’s good news and may reflect the impact of the control measures that have been put in place.”
Hubei province is in virtual lockdown and many countries, including Saudi Arabia, have severely restricted travel to and from China.
Agency chief Tedros Adhanom warned against misinformation. “We’re not just battling the virus, we’re also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists who push misinformation and undermine our response,” he said.