Expats support Saudi measures against coronavirus

A foreign worker wearing a protective mask fills a car tank at a petrol station in Qatif city in the Eastern Province, some 400Km from the capital Riyadh, on Mar. 9, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Expats support Saudi measures against coronavirus

  • Rene Lagunero, a Filipino worker in Riyadh, told Arab News that the Kingdom’s precautions are for the best interests of the people
  • The Kingdom on Thursday temporarily stopped all travel to and from almost all of Europe and 11 countries in Asia and Africa

RIYADH: Expats in Saudi Arabia have welcomed the government’s actions to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The Kingdom on Thursday temporarily stopped all travel to and from almost all of Europe and 11 countries in Asia and Africa as the number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia jumped to 45.
The new travel ban includes EU member states that had been excluded from last Monday’s travel ban, as well as Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia.
The Saudi Education Ministry on Sunday ordered all schools to remain closed until further notice.
Dr. Kifaya Ifthikar, a dentist from Sri Lanka who works in Riyadh, told Arab News: “The current travel ban, and the measures taken by the government through the health and education ministries, are truly appreciated. It shows how much they care for the welfare of the people, and also for the containment of this pandemic.”
Dr. Mansour Memon, a sociocultural physician from Pakistan who works in the Saudi capital, told Arab News that “the coronavirus outbreak has been labelled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization,” and is “affecting 125 countries and territories.”
He said: “In order to change the course of the outbreak, nations are required to take urgent action. Hence the recent travel ban and other restrictions here are in line with the premise of a safe and healthy nation.”
He added: “A timely decision makes a fine balance between protecting health and minimizing disruption. This is the need of the time, and has been taken with thorough consideration of all positives and negatives.”
Memon said several countries have issued similar restrictions with positive results. “We’re in this together to do the right things calmly and protect the citizens of the world,” he added.
Dr. Mohammed Pasha, an Indian paediatrician, advised parents not to panic, and to follow basic steps to help reduce risks.
“Please keep your hands clean, keep a distance from sick people, wash hands with clean running water then lather them with soap,” he told Arab News.
“Don’t miss the back of the hands, between fingers or under nails. Make sure to scrub for at least 20 seconds and dry them with a clean towel or let them air dry.”
Mohammed Arshad Ali Khan, a senior staffer at an Indian school and a former general secretary of Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Due to the prevailing situation because of coronavirus, the Kingdom has taken some preventive measures that include a temporary travel ban. This is good to combat the spread of coronavirus.”
But he said expats from these countries are concerned about their travel plans as many of them have had to cancel tickets and reschedule.
“We respect the decision, which is for the safety of human beings, but at the same time people are concerned about their regular plans,” he added.
“One of my friend’s family has gone to India in an emergency, and they need to return now because their exit re-entry visa will expire in a few days. Some students will be traveling to India for higher education after board exams, which are nearing the end now.”
Rene Lagunero, a Filipino worker in Riyadh, told Arab News that the Kingdom’s precautions are for the best interests of the people.

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.