Saudi Arabia on alert as coronavirus hits 100,000 globally

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Workers clean Zamzam's water point, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on March 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Ganoo Essa)
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Cleaners wear protective face masks as they tidy up the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on March 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Ganoo Essa)
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Updated 07 March 2020

Saudi Arabia on alert as coronavirus hits 100,000 globally

  • Work to disinfect Saudi Arabia's mosques, using eco-friendly substances, has been stepped up
  • Authorities are purifying the air inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah nine times a day

JEDDAH: As the coronavirus continues to cross more borders, the global health crisis hit a milestone on Friday when the total number of cases topped 100,000. In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, prayers resumed at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, with precautions in place.

COVID-19, which has already claimed nearly 3,400 lives, has spread to more US states, at least four additional countries and even breached the halls of the Vatican.

As the international markets continue to fall, the virus is increasingly threatening livelihoods as well as lives. US President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill containing measures designed to tackle the crisis. 

In Geneva, the World Health Organization, the UN’s health agency, said it has received applications for 40 potential virus tests and 20 vaccine candidates are in development. Numerous clinical trials of experimental drugs designed to combat the virus are also underway, it added.

FASTFACT

COVID-19 claims 3,400 lives

Uncertainty continues to surround the situation in Iran, one of the worst-affected nations, and whether the authorities there can control the epidemic. The number of reported infections in the country rose to more than 4,700 on Friday, with 124 deaths. 

The head of the World Food Programme, the UN’s food agency, warned of the potential for “absolute devastation” as the effects of the outbreak ripple through Africa and the Middle East. India is scrambling to stave off an epidemic that could overwhelm its underfunded, understaffed health care system.

In the US, the number of confirmed cases stands at more than 230, across 18 states. China reported 143 new cases on Friday, and the numbers continue to grow in Europe. The number of cases in Lebanon stands at 22.

Worshipers attended Friday prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah for the first time since restrictions were announced by Saudi Arabia. At the former, groups of people prayed on the ground and top floors, on roofs and in the northern expansion area.

During his sermon at the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhani said the emergency procedures implemented by the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus were in accordance with Shariah.

The Sacred Chamber in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which contains the graves of Prophet Muhammad and his companions, has been closed to worshipers.

Work to disinfect the mosques, using eco-friendly substances, has been stepped up. Authorities are purifying the air inside the Grand Mosque nine times a day, and sterilizing it with UV radiation before diffusing it throughout the mosque using special air-conditioning equipment.


Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

  • COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.