Saudi Arabia extends curfew as coronavirus cases reach 900

The Saudi Ministry of Interior will tighten travel restrictions between the country’s 13 regions from Thursday 3 p.m. as the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases reaches 900. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 March 2020

Saudi Arabia extends curfew as coronavirus cases reach 900

  • The new curfew will start at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
  • A second death from the virus was confirmed on Wednesday

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior will tighten travel restrictions between the country’s 13 regions from Thursday 3 p.m. as the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases reaches 900.

A second death from the virus was confirmed on Wednesday.

The additional measures prevent entering and leaving the cities of Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah, with longer curfew hours imposed on all three cities.

The new curfew will start at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.

These movement restrictions do not include groups previously exempt from the curfew. For more information about excluded groups, people can call 999, while residents of Makkah region can call 911.

Ministry of Interior spokesperson Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub said that there is a high level of commitment to the curfew instructions across the country.

“Everyone works for the good of the country, we are taking incremental steps according to the current critical situation.”

Al-Shalhoub added that security control centers on primary and secondary roads across the Kingdom will be responsible for enforcing the new measure.

Fines are applicable on drivers not vehicles, he said, beginning from SR10,000 ($2,665). Repeat offenders could be sent to jail for up to 20 days.

Al-Shalhoub also warned people of producing, sending or sharing any photos or videos of violations of the newly imposed curfew order as instructed by the Public Prosecution. He said that five people violating the curfew order had already been detected.

Violators will be charged under Article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which stipulates a fine of up to SR3 million and five years in prison. The punishment will be applied to violators, not informers or whistleblowers.

Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the ministry’s measurements had significantly limited the number of cases caused by contact with recent arrivals to the country.

“If recently arrived passengers were not quarantined, the infection chain would have reached more than 4,000 cases, and 200 to 300 confirmed cases,” Al-Aly said during the daily COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday.

The Health Ministry confirmed the second death caused by COVID-19, a 46-year-old resident of Makkah.

FASTFACT

29

is the total number of coronavirus recoveries in the Kingdom.

The spokesman also announced 133 new cases infected with the virus, brining the total number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom to 900.

Eighteen of the cases were related to travel and have been quarantined, while the other 115 cases had direct contact with previously announced cases.

All cases are being kept under the ministry’s supervision, with four cases in critical situation.

One case recovered, he said, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 29.

Al-Aly also addressed popular videos on social media of crowds in supermarkets and urged people to avoid them as much as possible.

“Always change your destination and shop elsewhere. Better yet, use delivery applications to get what you need to your house.”

The Health Ministry encouraged anyone with symptoms or questions to contact the ministry’s hotline 937 or download its app “Mawid” to check for symptoms.


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.