MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus are gaining global attention after researchers across the Kingdom highlighted the success of a string of measures adopted in recent months.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in early March, the Kingdom has launched a range of health protocols that have reduced the number of infections from a high of approximately 5,000 in mid-June to only hundreds today.
The World Health Organization has praised the Kingdom’s approach, while many heads of state cited the Saudi example as a “success story” during the G20 leaders summit on Nov. 22.
A study published in the Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal titled “Importance of early precautionary actions in avoiding the spread of COVID-19: Saudi Arabia as an example,” highlighted the effectiveness of the Kingdom’s efforts.
Speaking to Arab News, co-author Khalidah Alenzi said that the objective of the research was to measure the readiness of countries around the globe to deal with the pandemic.
The study, co-authored by Dr. Thamir Alshammari and Dr. Ali Altebainawi, was recently praised by Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, who said that he planned to use it — together with studies from France and Germany — as model for tougher restrictions in the state.
Alenzi, supervisor of the Ministry of Health’s Regional Center for Drug Information and Vigilance in Tabuk, said: “When the Californian governor presented Saudi Arabia as one of the best models for preventive and precautionary measures against the coronavirus, based on the research of the Saudi team, he shed light on only a tiny fraction of Saudi capabilities that have excelled in dealing with the pandemic.”
She said that the research team had shown that preventive and precautionary measures and health protocols had limited the number of deaths, despite criticism directed at these measures initially.
“We were surprised to find that we started early compared with other countries hit by the pandemic, especially those bordering China such as South Korea, and countries in East Asia,” Alenzi said.
“Based on this logic, we got the idea of carrying out independent research on Saudi Arabia to detect the cases of early reaction and present these as a model to be followed. In the beginning we thought of presenting comparative research with other countries such as Italy and France, but we discovered that data analysis would be marked by a huge difference.”
Alenzi said that the Kingdom’s initial measures faced criticism from some foreign experts for being too strict.
Critics had later “backtracked” after a spike in cases and the uncontrollable spread of the virus in their respective countries, she said.
“Had it not been for the extreme precautionary measures proposed by the research team, we never would have been able to avoid a second and third wave of the pandemic,” Alenzi said.
She said that countries such as Spain, where there are over 1.6 million confirmed cases and rising, have faced protests against measures adopted by their governments, and are now suffering from a second wave because of their failure to follow protocols set in place.
Residents of the Kingdom, in cooperation with the government and its institutions, were able to maintain control and have successfully controlled the spread of the pandemic. Saudi Arabia’s total confirmed cases are at 357,000, with less than 5,000 active cases as of Tuesday.
“This pandemic has proven the Kingdom’s highly capable and skilled cadres compared with European states. It has set an example with its ability to provide precautionary and treatment medicines to fight the pandemic,” she added.