Saudi Arabia will ease COVID-19 lockdown from Thursday

Saudis shop at a supermarket at the Panorama Mall in the capital Riyadh on May 22, 2020, as Muslims prepare to celebrate the upcoming Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. (AFP)
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Updated 26 May 2020

Saudi Arabia will ease COVID-19 lockdown from Thursday

  • Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the easing will take place in phases
  • Al-Rabiah said the people of the Kingdom had shown a “high amount of responsibility"

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will enter a new phase of the coronavirus crisis this week, as the country takes the first tentative steps toward a return to normal life.

However, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah stressed that for this gradual return to normality to succeed, everyone must follow all precautionary measures put in place by the authorities.

“As of Thursday, we will move from one phase to another according to a careful health assessment,” said Al-Rabiah. “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.”

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

The minister thanked citizens and residents for their assistance in managing the crisis by adhering to regulations, and called on everyone to continue to wear masks that cover their noses and mouths when they are outside their homes.

Earlier, the Ministry of Health said that although there has some debate recently in scientific circles about how easy it is for the novel coronavirus to be transmitted by contact with surfaces contaminated by infected people, for example in droplets from the respiratory system when they cough or sneeze, there is as yet no definitive conclusion one way or the other and so caution is advised.


READ MORE: Saudi crown prince says COVID-19 will pass

Saudi Arabia reports 9 new COVID-19 deaths


“This theory cannot be excluded that surfaces are a means to transmit the virus,” said ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. “Some specialized national centers say it is possible, others say it is not easy to spread through surfaces — but there is no research to refute it.”

A further 2,235 cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Saudi Arabia on Monday, taking the total number of infections in the country to 74,795.

There are 28,728 active cases in the Kingdom, 384 of which are described as critical. Al-Aly said an additional 2,148 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 45,668. Nine additional deaths were reported, in Makkah and Baish, raising the toll to 399. The deceased were all expatriates between the ages of 31 and 63.

A further 18,545 screening tests have been carried out, bringing the total number to 722,079.

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Updated 13 August 2020

Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.