Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

Medical vehicles, seen on March 23, 2020 outside Jeddah's King Fahad Medical City, are to be used in the campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. (Saudi Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

  • The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26
  • Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year

JEDDAH: Leaders from the G20 will hold a videoconference to “advance a coordinated global response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its human and economic implications,” according to a statement published by the Saudi secretariat. The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26. Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year.

The meeting is set to discuss the implications of the global pandemic — which has now infected more than 430,000 globally in 196 countries and territories, its social and economic impact, and measures to stave off a global economic recession. Representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will also participate.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News that the G20 has never been more relevant than it is today. 




Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri

“The G20 represents a structure which includes the world’s twenty largest national economies,” he said. “This summit is exceptional as it will not only focus on the implications for the health of global citizens due to the spread of coronavirus, but also on the threat it poses to economies, global food security and many other issues.

“I think 70-80 percent of the summit will focus on these discussion points. The world’s largest economies are bearing a heavy burden as they provide support to many developing countries facing this pandemic and a roadmap must be put in place to face the crisis,” Al-Shehri continued, adding that unity was vital, as countries “can’t fight this fight alone.” Without a united global front, he said, the economic and health implications of the virus will be much harder to overcome.

The virtual summit, Al-Shehri believes, will encourage greater coordination and critical exchange of experience and knowledge. 

The government of Saudi Arabia has, like many others around the world, taken extreme precautionary measures as a result of the call for international coordination and multilateral efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. This has played an important role in ensuring the safety and well-being of residents of the Kingdom, but also of other countries. 

“Saudi Arabia was (one of the first countries) to send emergency medical aid to China at the beginning of the outbreak,” said Lina K. Almaeena, Saudi Shoura Council member.




Lina K. Almaeena

“The Kingdom has also responded to the WHO’s urgent appeal and has provided $10 million in financial support. It has taken bold and assertive measures to curb the spread of the virus by suspending schools, Umrah pilgrimage, and travel to and from the country as a means to protect citizens and residents of all nationalities and religions living within its borders, as well as guaranteeing medical treatment to all.

“The coronavirus has made it clearer than ever that we are all global citizens,” Almaeena continued. “I hope that the virtual G20 Summit — led by Saudi Arabia — will come up with innovative recommendations that will further curb the outbreak.”

“The extraordinary initiative taken by King Salman is critical, as the world is going through a major crisis with the coronavirus pandemic — a crisis that the world has never seen the likes of before,” Dr. Alia Aldahlawi, Saudi Shoura Council member, told Arab News. “At the present time, a global coordinated response, in cooperation with all health agencies and institutions, must put standards in place to confine the spread, reduce infection rates and gain control over the pandemic.

“I believe this exceptional meeting will have a major impact in crisis management, led by the Kingdom, with positive outcomes on the economic and health front at an international level,” she added.


Saudi Arabia could return to extreme precautionary restrictions, minister warns

Penalties will be doubled upon repetition of the violation. (SPA)
Updated 3 min 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia could return to extreme precautionary restrictions, minister warns

  • People not wearing masks will be fined

JEDDAH: The Kingdom could return to extreme precautionary restrictions if the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds the medical sector’s capacity, Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah warned on Saturday.

“Public awareness and adherence to precautionary measures is essential to continue the ease of restrictions,” Al-Rabiah told Al-Arabiya on Saturday. “We continue monitoring the situation based on the number of critical cases in hospitals and their capacity to receive them. We want to be able to receive all cases that reach out to us and provide them with the care that they need. We are all in one boat in this situation, we are one team, and we must work together cautiously. Lack of commitment will definitely take us back to where we were.”

The minister expressed his concern about overcrowding in some public places during the Eid holidays, adding that while crowds were likely at the initial phase of the ‘unlock’ he remained optimistic about the public’s awareness level.

The minister said that although children were the least likely to be infected they could carry the virus without symptoms. He advised families to keep children away from elderly members of their families such as grandparents.

There were 1,618 new cases reported in Saudi Arabia, meaning that 83,384 people have now contracted the disease. There are currently 24,501 active cases.

The Health Ministry announced that 1,870 more patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 58,883. More than 70 percent of coronavirus patients in the Kingdom have recovered from the disease.

There were 22 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities to 480.

The ministry has assigned 30 health practitioners to carry out the third stage of an expanded examination plan to assess the prevalence of COVID-19 in the city of Makkah.

FASTFACTS

• 58,883 recoveries

• 24,501 active cases

The examination will take place at a center in the Al-Zaidi district, where citizens and expats will be tested inside their cars through 12 tracks without the need to leave their vehicles. The center has the capacity for over 1,000 tests daily and these will be carried out through appointments made on the ministry’s Sehaty app.

Adjustments to previously announced social-distancing measures and regulations were announced by the Saudi Interior Ministry on Saturday. These include new violation penalties, as the second stage of restriction-easing starts on May 31.

Individuals who intentionally violate regulations will pay SR1,000 ($266). Breaches include not wearing a mask, not committing to social distancing marks and areas, refusing to undergo temperature checks at entrances, or not adhering to preventive protocols if their temperature is higher than 38 degrees Celsius.

The ministry amended the maximum number of people allowed for social gatherings inside homes, rest houses, farms, or in social events such as funerals and parties to 50 people.

Private sector establishments that are found to be non-compliant with new preventive measures and protocols will pay a penalty of SR10,000.

This penalty covers violations such as admitting entry to individuals not wearing medical or cloth masks, lack of disinfectants and sterilizers, not checking employee and customer temperatures at entrances, lack of sterilization on shopping facilities, cart surfaces and shopping baskets after each use, as well as opening fitting rooms and children’s play areas.
Penalties will be doubled upon repetition of the violation.