Confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 39,000 in Saudi Arabia

Health workers prepare to perform nose swab tests during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed 39,000 in Saudi Arabia

  • The total number of confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia had risen to 39,048
  • Transport ministry ensures smooth movement of goods across the country

JEDDAH: The reporting of 1,912 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday has brought the total number of cases recorded in the Kingdom to 39,048.

Of the new confirmed cases announced on Sunday, 35 percent of whom were Saudi.

The vast majority were in Makkah (438 cases), Jeddah (374), Riyadh (363), and Madinah (248); 21 percent are female. 89 percent are adults, 8 percent are children and 3 percent are above the age of 65.

There are currently 27,345 active cases, with 143 in a critical condition. 1,313 new recoveries were recorded, making the total recovery at 11,457 cases.

The ministry reported 7 new deaths of expatriates in Makkah, Riyadh, and Jeddah, raising the death toll to 246.

Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the health situation assessment across the country will continue until the ministry sends its recommendations regarding the precautionary measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom.

“An increase in numbers is not the only factor that affects assessment conclusions; they are also affected by the distribution of cases, whether there are virus clusters and how quickly the infection is spreading,” said Al-Aly.

“Moreover, early detection results, virus effects on the health of patients, and recovery and death rates also affect the conclusion, and on top of it all is the level of community commitment to precautionary instructions.”

Al-Aly said fever is the most common symptom of infection as 99 percent of confirmed cases experienced fever, while 60 percent had a cough and 30 percent had difficulty breathing.

“Other symptoms include fatigue, joint and muscle pains, and loss of appetite. However, these are associated symptoms for the vast majority of cases,” Al-Aly said.

Meanwhile the Saudi transport ministry said that the whole transport system and the public and private logistical sectors are working to ensure the availability of goods, food and medical supplies through all the Kingdom's land and airports.

Yasser Al-Mesfer, the ministry’s spokesperson, said that more than 9 million truck trips were conducted crossing the Kingdom to transport goods since the beginning of the pandemic to provide the continued and smooth movement of goods in the country. 

The Public Authority for Transport issued over 8,000 movement permits for different types of cargo transport facilities to move around the country as curfew measures continue.

The length of the average road truck trip decreased by nearly 40 percent, due to the decrease in traffic flow, allowing trucks to easily move between cities in comparison to prior to the curfew.

More than 100,000 tons of medical supplies and food were shipped in more than 300 air cargo flights, while 2.5 million containers arrived through the country’s seaports carrying approximately 90 million tons of cargo.

Saudi Arabia partially lifted lockdowns and curfew restrictions on April 29 and allowed some economic and commercial activities to resume their activities until May 13 (Ramadan 20); however, there is no official confirmation whether the current situation will continue or the cities will go back to 24-hour lockdown.

On Sunday evening the Ministry of Interior announced that from Monday coronavirus restrictions would be eased in the cities of Samtah and Addayer in Jazan Region, following the recommendation by health authorities there, allowing residents to leave their homes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

Updated 52 min 36 sec ago

Technical glitches on Absher prevent exempt Saudis from traveling abroad

  • On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom
  • However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher

JEDDAH: Absher, the “one-stop shop” web-portal for Saudi government services, has been experiencing technical glitches that have left many citizens and expats unable to travel, despite them meeting the “exceptional case” categories outlined by the Interior Ministry more than two weeks ago.
Earlier this year and as part of its response to COVID-19, the Saudi government suspended all international flights to and from the Kingdom in a move that has successfully reduced infections across the country.
On Sept. 13, the Saudi government issued a list of categories of people permitted to travel outside of the Kingdom. These include diplomats, humanitarian cases, Saudis who live outside the Kingdom for work or study, among others. To be able to leave the country an eligible individual must apply — with supporting documents — for a permit to the passport authority.
However, only a few days after the announcement, many students, patients and other exempted residents were unable to apply due to a technical fault on Absher.
“The option to request the permit suddenly vanished from the relevant page, so while you could access Absher you just couldn’t submit your request. I tried every day for nearly two weeks,” said a Saudi woman who holds residency in a neighboring country. She added that while there was no announcement, the only information that she read in the local press was that the service was facing technical glitches.
“Yesterday, they announced that Absher was back but said that new requirements were set,” she said. “These include providing a copy of the residency card abroad and proof that an applicant has lived out of the Kingdom for six months every year for the past three years. In addition they requested a copy of my tenancy contract.”
“I spent all day collecting the documents. When I tried to upload the PDF the first time it told me that the file was too big, so I went to find software to reduce the size and when I finally managed to do so, I couldn’t log in as the whole website was down with a message saying that it was either temporarily unavailable or that they were serving someone else,” she said.
Other people, including one Saudi cancer patient who is due to return for treatment in Germany, spoke of the same technical glitches. When Arab News tried to log on to verify earlier today, it was unable to with an automated message that said “currently we are serving others, please try again later.”  The problem seems to have been resolved for some users by 10 pm.