JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia faces tough new preventive measures if the public continue to ignore precautions against the spread of COVID-19, the health minister warned on Sunday.
“We have unfortunately in recent days registered a noticeable increase and continued rise in infections. One of the main reasons is gatherings and complacency with precautionary measures,” Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said.
“Lack of compliance will force us to take measures to protect society. I ask you to help us preserve the gains we made in combating the coronavirus. This is a very difficult stage.”
The Kingdom recorded 261 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to 368,074, and three more people died, raising the death toll to 6,375 since the pandemic began early last year.
The new figures reverse the trend of infections falling from a peak above 4,000 in June to dip below the 100 mark in early January. There are currently 2,126 active cases, of whom 362 are in critical care, an increase of 10 in the past 24 hours.
The Ministry of Interior said it had recorded 18,563 violations of precautionary health regulations in one week.
#الصحة تعلن عن تسجيل (261) حالة إصابة جديدة بفيروس كورونا (كوفيد-19)، وتسجيل (3) حالات وفيات رحمهم الله، وتسجيل (274) حالة تعافي ليصبح إجمالي عدد الحالات المتعافية (359,573) حالة ولله الحمد. pic.twitter.com/XdiXjSLMZS
— و ز ا ر ة ا لـ صـ حـ ة السعودية (@SaudiMOH) January 31, 2021
“The second wave of the pandemic is bigger than the first and we’re not immune to it,” Al-Rabiah said. “It’s imperative that we take the pandemic seriously.”
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said that although residents had endured much in the past year with the emergence of the pandemic, many more sacrifices would have to be made.
He said there had been a 50 percent increase in daily confirmed cases in the past week across almost all regions.
“There’s a 200 percent increase in numbers in January alone from the lowest daily confirmed cases,” he said.
Al-Aly said 75 percent of cases reported recently were due to public gatherings and restaurants that did not adhere to social distance protocols, weddings exceeding the number of guests allowed, large social gatherings and celebrations.
Regional governors called for increased awareness campaigns on the importance of social distancing and adhering to preventive measures, and sticking to health and hygiene protocols.
They also called on all business sectors to keep a watchful eye out for members of the public who were breaking health regulations.