Saudi health ministry records 177 new coronavirus cases

Saudi health ministry records 177 new coronavirus cases
The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia to 361,536. (File: AFP)
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Updated 24 December 2020

Saudi health ministry records 177 new coronavirus cases

Saudi health ministry records 177 new coronavirus cases
  • The new cases bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia to 361,536

JEDDAH: Dr. Hani Joukhadar, the undersecretary for public health at the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the Kingdom is “very reassuring.”
In an interview with Al Ekhbariya TV channel, Joukhadar noted that the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has been below 200 “for the past few weeks,” but stressed that the ministry continues to monitor the mutation of the virus closely.
“The ministry has also been analyzing the genetic strains of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said, adding that the new strain of the virus recently detected in the UK has not been found in the Kingdom so far and claiming that the new strain is not the reason behind the spiking number of infections around the world, but rather “the lack of precautions during the festive season.”
Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, the company that co-manufactures the only vaccine currently approved for use in Saudi Arabia, told a news conference on Tuesday: “We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant. But scientifically, it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine also can deal with the new virus variants.”

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 177 new cases on Wednesday.

• 169 more people have recovered from the disease.

• The number of active cases is 2,970 of whom 380 are in critical condition.

• Nine more people died of virus-related complications.

He added that testing on the new strain should be complete in two weeks. “The likelihood that our vaccine works ... is relatively high,” he said.
Joukhadar said a large number of people in the Kingdom, both expat and local, had already registered to receive the vaccine. “The ministry is currently working on establishing other vaccination centers across the Kingdom, with one opening tomorrow,” he added.
Dr. Abdullah Assiri, an infectious diseases consultant and assistant deputy minister for preventive health, said: “The vaccine that was approved in the Kingdom, and the other vaccines currently under study, are safe and very effective vaccines, and (they are) the ticket out of this pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported nine new COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll now stands at 6,148. There were 177 new cases reported in the Kingdom, meaning 361,536 people have now contracted the disease, of which 2,970 are active cases, 383 of whom are in critical condition.
According to the ministry, 59 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 31 in Makkah, and 26 in Madinah.
In addition, 169 more patients had recovered from coronavirus in the 24 hours preceding the announcement, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 352,418.
More than 500,000 people have so far registered on the Health Ministry’s Sehaty app to receive the COVID-19  vaccine.