Saudi Arabia using electronic bracelets to battle COVID-19

A Saudi volunteer supervisor wearing a protective face mask and gloves checks the temperature of another volunteer before preparing boxes of Iftar meals provided by a charity organization following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Saudi Arabia using electronic bracelets to battle COVID-19

  • The overall death toll from the coronavirus in the Kingdom is now 351

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has begun using electronic bracelets with contact-tracing and social-distancing alerts to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Health Ministry confirmed on Thursday.

“It’s not just to monitor and follow up on infected individuals, but to provide further services to reassure citizens and residents,” said the ministry’s spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly.

The number of people getting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests is also on the rise, with 14,980 tests carried out in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of COVID-19 tests to 633,064.

The Kingdom recorded 2,532 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — 39 percent of them Saudis — bringing the total number of cases to 65,077. 

Of the new cases, 714 were recorded in Riyadh, 390 in Jeddah, 299 in Makkah, 193 in Madinah.

There are currently 28,686 active cases, with 281 in critical condition.

Al-Abd Al-Aly said 2,562 more patients have recovered from the disease, taking the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 36,040.

The ministry reported 12 new deaths, raising the toll to 351. Of the latest fatalities, one was Saudi and 11 were expats of several nationalities, aged 45-87. Most of them suffered from chronic diseases.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources announced that it has supported six local factories that help produce 5 million face masks every week.

In addition, 60 new factories were dedicated to producing 3.6 million hand sanitizers per week.

Regarding the virus outbreak in the Dammam Second Industrial City, the spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, Jarah Al-Jarah, said: “From day one, the ministry formed a team working 24/7 to contain the situation and the spread.” 

He added: “In collaboration with the Health Ministry, a field hospital with 200 beds is now operational in the area, along with a 10,000-square-meter temporary housing for employees.”

Currently there are 163,894 volunteers registered at the ministry’s health volunteering platform established at the beginning of the pandemic; 72,000 of the registered volunteers are ready to work when needed after completing the compulsory training program while more than 19,000 are active volunteers.

Volunteering included working in hospitals and the ministry’s quarantine areas, offering medical consultations, participating in screening and epidemiological investigations and working at emergency and ambulance units, in addition to many other public health services.

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Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.