Saudi Arabia announces 16 more deaths from COVID-19 as restrictions partially eased

The health ministry urged citizens and residents to abide by measures to prevent the spread of the virus as the Kingdom starts to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Thursday. (SPA)
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Updated 29 May 2020

Saudi Arabia announces 16 more deaths from COVID-19 as restrictions partially eased

  • The health ministry announced 3,531 new cases of recovery
  • Saudi Arabia will see a partial ease in coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Thursday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has issued a reminder that people must act responsibly even though lockdown measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic have been eased, stressing that the disease still poses a significant risk to lives.

“The pandemic continues, and the virus is present. None of us wants to lose anyone, so do not (risk hurting) yourself or transmitting the virus to your parents and children because of recklessness and negligence,” said ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. “We are tasked with protecting precious lives, and we must fulfill our duty to adhere to healthy behaviors.”

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The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 80,185.

Saudi authorities launched a detailed timetable on Monday for a three-stage easing of coronavirus restrictions, designed to introduce a return to normal life in the Kingdom in less than a month. But Al-Aly stressed that all areas of the Kingdom will be constantly monitored and regularly evaluated, and the Health Ministry may consider a return to stricter precautionary measures if necessary.

“As long as a pandemic exists, waves may occur at certain rates — it is expected to return in waves. We hope for low levels at acceptable rates. The risk is that the waves may be too high or difficult to be contained,” he said, adding that people must remember to follow social distancing guidelines, maintain personal hygiene and wear face masks as instructed. The Kingdom recorded 16 new COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday, raising the total to 441.

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The total number of active cases in Saudi Arabia reached 25,191.

There were 1,644 new cases were reported in the Kingdom, meaning 80,185 people have now contracted the disease. There are 25,191 active cases.

The Health Ministry also announced that 3,531 more patients had recovered from coronavirus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 54,553.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 770,696 tests for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed that Umrah is still suspended at the moment, adding that the decision will reviewed regularly as the situation develops.


Saudi Arabia calls for international action over decaying Red Sea oil tanker

Updated 16 July 2020

Saudi Arabia calls for international action over decaying Red Sea oil tanker

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has called for strong and decisive international efforts to deal with the global threats posed by a decaying oil tanker moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

During a virtual meeting on Wednesday of the UN Security Council to discuss the stranded FSO Safer vessel, which is loaded with more than 1 million barrels of crude oil, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, highlighted the “grave risks” the ship presented.

The 45-year-old tanker has been anchored about 60 km north of Hodeidah since the start of Yemen’s civil war five years ago. Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed on Sunday to allow a UN inspection team access to the ship for a maintenance check.

Al-Mouallimi said: “I would like to express our appreciation for convening this session to discuss the hazardous situation of the tanker and the dangers it is posing to the environment and maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

“The grave risks associated with this floating oil tanker threaten to cause harm to the Southern Red Sea and to the world at large as it is situated in the proximity of Bab Al-Mandab (Strait), through which vital international maritime navigation passes through between Asia and Europe.

“This dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed, and the Security Council bears primary responsibility for securing the safety and security of the area,” he added.

The envoy told delegates that an oil spill from the FSO Safer could have the potential to be worse than the devastating 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska.

He pointed out that loss of oil from the ship could also result in the closing of the port of Hodeidah for months, leading to severe shortages in the supply of fuel and other essentials to the people of Yemen, and severe long-term damage to the region’s fishing industry.

Marine life, the environment, and Saudi shores would also be seriously and adversely affected, he added, and toxic gases and black clouds from any major spillage would damage agricultural land in vast areas of Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“The Security Council has already asserted the need to confront the risks associated with this situation and warned against the catastrophic consequences that would result if this situation remains unresolved. The Security Council did so in its resolution 2511 (2020) and its press statement issued on June 29, 2020,” said Al-Mouallimi.

“We took notice of the announcement made recently by the spokesperson of the UN secretary-general that the Houthi rebels have agreed to allow access to the tanker.

“We remain suspicious of the Houthis plans and intentions, and request that the Security Council must remain vigilante and should stand ready to declare strong and decisive measures to deal with this situation and eliminate the risks posed by it.”

The ambassador said that the Kingdom stood ready to take all necessary steps that the Security Council may deem fit to handle the situation.

“The council must not allow such reckless and irresponsible behavior to stand. The council must ensure that a political solution for the conflict in Yemen is found based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216, the GCC initiative, and the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference, acknowledged by the international community as the elements of international legitimacy.”