JEDDAH: Cases of the killer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among Saudi children were on Thursday reported to have shot up by 125 percent during Ramadan, health officials revealed.
And a “dangerous” rise of 100 percent in infections among women over the same festival period prompted fresh warnings from authorities for people to avoid social gatherings and adhere to preventive measures aimed at stopping a second deadly wave of the virus.
Saudi Arabia’s R0 — pronounced R-naught — infections rating was getting perilously close to one, said Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. Above that figure, each infection among the population would cause more than one new COVID-19 case, and the disease would spread exponentially, resulting in an outbreak. If R0 was below one, the disease would shrink and eventually die out.
“The number of reported cases for children has gone up to 125 percent, and there’s been a 100 percent increase for females as well, which proves that social gatherings are dangerous,” he added.
Pointing to the upcoming Eid curfew, Al-Aly warned that if people neglected social distancing and ignored safety regulations the number of COVID-19 cases could spiral.
He said: “What is the point of curfew? Why is the government implementing all these preventive measures and steps? Is it all to cheat the system and create opportunities to dispel what is meant to keep us healthy? Harming ourselves and society? Shouldn’t we instead abide and be very careful to follow the regulations to save ourselves and our loved ones?
“It is our responsibility as individuals to save each other. The point is not for a day or two to pass where you follow preventive measures. The point is to follow through until the pandemic is a thing of the past.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Thursday recorded 2,039 new cases of COVID-19 — 41 percent of them were Saudis and the rest expats — taking the total number to 46,869. There were 27,535 active cases, 156 of which were in critical condition.
Al-Aly announced 1,429 recoveries — making 19,051 in all — and 10 new fatalities, raising the Kingdom’s death toll to 283. The latest deaths involved expatriates of several nationalities in Makkah, Jeddah, Yanbu, and Riyadh aged between 43 and 90, most of whom had chronic diseases.