JEDDAH: The Saudi Interior Ministry imposed a 24-hour curfew on seven neighborhoods in Jeddah governorate on Saturday as an additional measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The neighborhoods are: Kilo 14 South, Kilo 14 North, Al-Mahjar, Ghulail, Al-Qurayyat, Kilo 13, and Petromin. Entry and exit to these areas are forbidden. Residents can only leave their homes for health care and food needs during the period from 6:00 am to 3:00pm.
Meanwhile, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has announced an open application period for its new research grant program to support the Kingdom’s scientific efforts during the coronavirus crisis.
The fast-track program to support research into the coronavirus is aimed at providing support to institutions to develop detection and monitoring mechanisms in an accurate, fast and economical manner.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Malik, executive director for the Life Science and Environment Research Institute at KACST, told a press conference on Saturday that the grant would provide direct financial support to scientists in research centers and universities around the country.
“The program will focus on developing diagnostic and serological tests for the virus and support epidemiological surveys, artificial intelligence systems and active genetic surveillance for the new virus,” Al-Malik said.
“KACST will also allow the grant awardees to use its laboratories around the country whenever they need it,” he said.
Al-Malik is inviting researchers interested in COVID-19-related work to submit their proposals at the portal (https://covid19.kacst.edu.sa/grants/) between April 4 to 20. Winners will be announced ten days after the deadline.
The initiative was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health, the Saudi Health Council and the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Health Ministry has announced 140 new COVID-19 cases, two of which are related to travel, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,179 with 1,730 of them still active cases.
While the number of recoveries increased to 420, four new deaths were announced, three of whom were non-Saudis, increasing total deaths to 29.
During the department’s daily conference, Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly clarified that the bodies of those who died of COVID-19 were bathed and shrouded according to Islamic tradition by trained health practitioners or under the ministry’s supervision to ensure everybody’s safety.
“Their dignity is maintained from the moment they pass away until burial . . . after completing all these procedures (bathing and shrouding) under our supervision, the body no longer carries the infection.”
The ministry advises people to get their information from official sources and has dedicated a web page for updates about disease numbers in the Kingdom (covid19.moh.gov.sa).