Travel bans extended as four new coronavirus deaths announced in Saudi Arabia

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Jeddah has been added to the list of Saudi cities placed under extended curfew hours as a measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 diseases. (AN photo by Adnan Mohandali)
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A picture taken on March 26, 2020, shows Saudi policemen manning a checkpoint in the King Fahd Causeway in the capital Riyadh, after the Kingdom began implementing an 11-hour nationwide curfew. (AFP)
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Jeddah has been added to the list of Saudi cities placed under extended curfew hours as a measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 diseases. (AN photo by Adnan Mohandali)
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Updated 30 March 2020

Travel bans extended as four new coronavirus deaths announced in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah sealed off and curfew hours extended to start at 3 p.m. local time
  • Coronavirus cases rose to 1,299, including 8 deaths

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia extended the suspension of international and internal flights as well as work in the private and public sectors until further notice as coronavirus cases rose to 1,299 — in addition to four new deaths — the Health Ministry announced on Sunday. 

The government has also banned entry and exit to the city of Jeddah and extended curfew hours to start at 3 p.m. local time. The same precautionary measure were imposed earlier on the cities of Qatif, Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah.

Suspension of public transport services including trains, buses and taxis has been extended until further notice.

International flights were discontinued on March 15 while domestic flights were on March 21. However, Saudi Public security has assigned an emergency team to receive urgent requests to move between the country’s regions for 24 hours.

The Saudi Health Ministry announced 96 new cases on Sunday, including 28 cases related to travel and 68 cases linked to being in direct contact with previously announced cases.

There are 29 new recoveries confirmed, taking the total number of recoveries to 66, while patients in ICU rose from four to 12 with fourth deaths recorded today, two of which were in Madina and two in Jeddah, as the death toll rose to eight as of today.

Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that the virus incubation period was 14 days, and different from the sickness period that begins with the appearance of symptoms.  

“Usually symptoms reach their peak for two to three days maximum,” Al-Aly said. “However, the period between the appearance of symptoms until complete recovery varies according to age, health status and, more crucially, how long access to health care was delayed.”

Al-Aly said that Saudi Arabia’s health care absorptive capacity was under constant evaluation, and in case any additional interventions were required, emergency plans were ready to be implemented when necessary.




Jeddah has been added to the list of Saudi cities placed under extended curfew hours as a measure to contain the spread of the COVID-19 diseases. (AN photo by Adnan Mohandali)

Volunteer initiatives and opportunities were open for individuals, charities, profit and non-profit organizations, as well as government institutions and agencies, and they were not limited to health care.  

“We have various organized programs available within the umbrella of the community partnership provided by the Ministry of Health,” Al-Aly said.  

He also encouraged people to perform daily self-check-tests using the available options such as the Mawid app.

Deaths caused by the coronavirus rose to eight, as the ministry announced four new cases of non-local residents in Jeddah and Madinah, with two cases in each city. 

Movement restrictions do not include groups previously exempt from the curfew.

For more information about excluded groups, please call 999. Residents of the Makkah region can call 911.

_____________

Numbers:

Total cases: 1,299

 Deaths: 8

 Recoveries: 66

 Patients in ICU: 12

_____________

99 new cases

28 cases related to travel

68 cases were in direct contact with previously announced cases

29 new recoveries

4 new deaths

 


Saudis head out as lockdown eases

Updated 22 min 9 sec ago

Saudis head out as lockdown eases

  • First day of phased reopening sees visitors flock to waterfronts and malls

JEDDAH/RIYADH: As the 24-hour-curfew period ended, residents of Saudi Arabia headed back outside on the first day of the government’s three-phase plan to transition back to normality after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as people rushed to take advantage of the newly relaxed measures, streets quickly became crowded and several observers noticed that many were failing to observe social-distancing measures.

Prince Abdulrahman bin Mosaad tweeted: “For there to be traffic in the streets is natural after canceling the 24-hour curfew, but what’s abnormal and unbelievable is the amount of people underestimating the necessity of putting on a face mask and a pair of gloves and keeping a two-meter space between people crowding at stores. This is only the first day. Unfortunately, I don’t think Shawwal 29 (June 21) will be the day we go back to normal.”

In a follow-up tweet, Prince Abdulrahman reminded people that the pandemic does not have a cure or a vaccine yet, and wondered whether people would need to lose a loved one before they came to appreciate the severity of the situation.

University lecturer, Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani (@fattah53), agreed, tweeting: “Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. It’s very simple; don’t go out unless it’s necessary. If you absolutely have to, follow precautionary measures from wearing a mask to keeping an acceptable distance between you and others.”

Abdulaziz Al-Omar (@11a_alomar) also replied with suggestions. “It’s important to monitor and penalize facilities and shops that do not follow precautionary regulations, as well as fines against those who don’t wear a mask and don’t keep their distance from others,” he tweeted.

The hashtag #JeddahNow was quickly trending on Twitter in response to the number of people leaving their homes unnecessarily.

A number of users suggested that individuals neglecting social distancing and going out in public without a mask and gloves would be “more afraid of a SR10,000 fine than they are of the pandemic.”

However, many thought that people were overreacting to the traffic around the city’s corniche.

Sa’ad Mughram (@saad_mghrm) tweeted: “Don’t blame people for traffic. There are families that have been pressed together for three months in small apartments and reef houses. It’s their right to go out and see the sky on a short car ride.”

He added: “Overcrowding stores needs to be addressed, but things can be dealt with calmly, without overreacting and perfectionism from some.”

Sadly, not many understand the dangers of the virus, and what they could be doing to their loved ones. 

Abdulfattah Al-Qahtani , University lecturer

Some hailed the efforts made by several popular stores around the Kingdom that are enforcing social distancing, such as Madinah’s Starbucks, where a photo circulating on social media showed people lined up with the recommended space between them, demonstrating what was described as “classy behavior.”

Abdullah Al-Humaid, (@abn_humaid) commented: “It’s wonderful to see such awareness displayed in our society. These are people maintaining social distancing while wearing gloves and face masks.”

Meanwhile, many headed onto the streets of Riyadh looking to regain a sense of normality. “Of course, I went out. I took my mom and sister and drove to the nearest mall to run some errands,” 26-year-old Sarah Al-Jasser told Arab News.

However, Al-Jasser said she was unable to enter the shops inside the mall because of long queues. “I was surprised that people were out this early. We were at the mall by 9:30 a.m. and didn’t expect it to be this crowded,” she said.

By 2:30 p.m. most shops and malls were already closed and empty of customers and shopkeepers, abiding by the 3 p.m. curfew.

Rayed Mustafa, 33, told Arab News he believes the situation is still unsafe: “Just because the country is opening up doesn’t mean it’s safe to go out.”  However, that did not stop him from leaving  the house. “I pulled an all-nighter, put on my face mask and gloves and hit the streets at 6:30 a.m. to cruise the city.”

He added that he stayed in his car and was merely hoping to get some fresh air for his mental well-being. “I’ve been confined in a very small apartment for over a month,” he said. “I needed that change of scenery.” 

He said he made sure to abide by the safety and health measures put in place by the Ministry of Health, and refrained from mingling with people.

Mustafa was taken aback by the number of people he saw on the streets. 

“One of the main streets in Riyadh was filled to the brim — some celebrating, others going out for coffee,” he added.

Billboards have been placed around the Kingdom reminding people to comply with the recommended precautions in order to ensure their safety.