JEDDAH: An “alarming” rise in the number of critical care coronavirus patients “in the past few days” was due to not adhering to social distancing measures, Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said on Tuesday.
There are currently 1,264 patients receiving treatment for COVID-19 in intensive care units. The recent increase “included different age groups, but mostly the elderly and those with chronic illnesses,” and are “mostly in Jeddah and Riyadh,” he said.
He stressed the importance of following precautionary measures such as wearing a face mask, social distancing, washing hands, limiting gatherings and avoiding handshakes.
“This increase in critical cases indicates that there are unhealthy activities such as large gatherings occurring,” he said.
“We should take a moment to reflect on our behavior and how it may affect the health of our mothers and fathers, and our loved ones surrounding us. We should commit to the given healthy guidelines.”
The Interior Ministry previously announced penalties for violators. The penalty for family gatherings of more than 50 people at homes, rest houses or farms is SR10,000 ($2,664).
The penalty for nonfamily gatherings of more than 50 people is SR15,000. For funerals and parties of more than 50 people, it is SR40,000. The penalty doubles if the violation is repeated.
Noncompliance by private sector entities will also result in SR10,000 fine. The private sector must ensure that employees returning to work should adhere to all precautions such as wearing a face mask. Companies should provide disinfectants and check employees’ and customers’ temperature. Shopping malls and markets should ensure that carts and baskets are disinfected properly and regularly.
A total of 1,869 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Tuesday, meaning 89,011 people in Saudi Arabia had now contracted the disease. There are currently 22,672 active cases.
A total of 1,484 newly recovered cases were announced, taking the total number of recoveries to 65,790. Twenty-four new deaths were reported, raising the death toll to 549.
More than 850,000 polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in the Kingdom so far.