Saudi minister urges more vaccine take-up as daily virus cases rise above 1,000

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (SPA/File)
Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (SPA/File)
Short Url
Updated 23 April 2021

Saudi minister urges more vaccine take-up as daily virus cases rise above 1,000

Saudi minister urges more vaccine take-up as daily virus cases rise above 1,000
  • We will be in a seriously critical state if numbers rise above 1,500, expert warns

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has urged people living in the Kingdom to be vaccinated against coronavirus as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, climbing above 1,000 new cases a day.
“More than 950 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered around the world, and the vaccine has demonstrated a high level of safety and efficacy,” Al-Rabiah said on Twitter.
“Advice from the heart, take the step and get the vaccine for your health and safety,” he added.
Al-Rabiah said that over 3 million people have died from COVID-19, and more than 100 million people suffer from the effects of the disease.
King Saud University professor of anesthesiology and intensive care Nasser Tawfiq blamed the recent spike in cases on violations of health protocols in the weeks before Ramadan as people were preparing for the holy month.
In an interview with Al-Ekhbariya channel, Tawfiq said that cases are now increasing weekly compared with last year when numbers rose day after day.
Breaking any numbers barrier will take longer, “and the best way to make a difference is with vaccines,” he said.
“We will be in a seriously critical state if numbers rise above 1,500,” warned Tawfiq.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry urged people to follow precautionary and preventive measures, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
Forty-four percent of infections occur and become contagious before any symptoms appear, the ministry explained on Twitter. 
Saudi Arabia reported 11 more COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. The death toll now stands at 6,869.
The Health Ministry reported 1,055 new cases, meaning that 409,093 people have now contracted the disease. There are 9,776 active cases, with 1,182 of these in critical condition.
According to the ministry, 468 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 220 in Makkah, 157 in the Eastern Province and 45 in Madinah.
In addition, 824 patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 392,448.
Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 16,414,039 PCR tests, with 61,923 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their jabs of the coronavirus vaccine, with 7,713,668 people having been inoculated so far.


Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
Updated 09 May 2021

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait

Arab coalition intercepts, destroys Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait
  • The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects
  • The coalition confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law

DUBAI: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, state news agency SPA reported.
The coalition said it is taking operational measures to deal with sources of threat to protect civilians and civilian objects.

The coalition also confirmed that the Houthis’ attempt to target civilians was a serious violation of international law.

The Iran-backed militia has been intensifying attacks against Saudi Arabia, targeting key oil facilities and civilians amid international and Arab condemnation in support of the Kingdom’s security.

 


KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan
The findings revealed a 39 percent increase in mobile phone use and 52 percent of people spent their time on other entertainment activities. (Social media)
Updated 09 May 2021

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan

KSA poll finds 72 percent fall in Saudi socializing in pandemic-hit Ramadan
  • Saudis reduced visits to relatives by 46 percent and to friends by 54 percent, the center found

JEDDAH: A new poll has revealed that Saudis reduced their participation in social events by more than 70 percent amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The results were part of a recent telephone study by the Saudi Center for Opinion Polling that surveyed a random sample of 1,190 people aged 18 years and older during Ramadan.
Saudis also reduced visits to relatives by 46 percent and to friends by 54 percent, the center found. During Ramadan, 42 percent of people maintained regular levels physical exercise, while 39 percent of respondents said they watched less television.
The findings also revealed a 39 percent increase in mobile phone use and that 52 percent of people spent their time on other entertainment activities.
Speaking to Arab News, Arwa Meer, an admin supervisor at a Jeddah hospital, said that she had reduced her social activities due to the nature of her work environment.
“Last Ramadan, I was working for the whole period of the COVID-19 curfews and lockdowns. Even if I had time, I wouldn’t see anyone because I was in constant contact with COVID-19 cases. That was something that made me refrain from seeing anyone,” Meer told Arab News.
However, this year has also created a similar situation, she said. “There’s potential exposure to COVID-19 cases as I continue my work at the hospital. Some of my colleagues got infected, so that made me refrain from social gatherings and visits even more. Even with my family at home, I try to avoid physical contact with them as much as possible, just as a precaution not to possibly infect anyone if I was a carrier.”
When asked if her visits to friends had also changed, the supervisor said the pandemic forced her to become “less social.”
She added: “The pandemic has made us all a little less social actually. It’s been a long time since I’ve last seen my friends. I see them maybe once a month. This Ramadan, I didn’t see my friends at all, not for iftar or sahoor.”

HIGHLIGHT

The results were part of a recent telephone study by the Saudi Center for Opinion Polling that surveyed a random sample of 1,190 people aged 18 years and older during Ramadan.

Sharing the same sentiment, 28-year-old Talal Al-Shammari from Jeddah said that it is “only natural” that family visits will decrease during the current circumstances.
“Nobody wants to be put in such a situation to be infected in the first place. Everyone is afraid for their family members over themselves,” he told Arab News. “No one would ever want to harm their relatives or friends, especially the elderly, those with a weaker immune system or children.”
The survey found that online shopping was also unaffected during Ramadan when compared with previous levels.
Meanwhile, 68 percent of people surveyed reported that higher levels of advertising during Ramadan did not affect their buying decisions. “Another surprising result is that the majority (79 percent) were reluctant to eat in restaurants during Ramadan,” the survey said.
Other results revealed that total hours of sleep during Ramadan increased for just 25 percent of respondents, while the majority of those surveyed said that they did not “significantly change their lifestyles” during Ramadan.
The survey also found that 58 percent of people did not notice a change in their moods or emotions during the period.
Work discipline remained the same for 81 percent of people, as did working hours for 79 percent of respondents.
The Saudi Center for Opinion Polling is a not-for-profit organization authorized by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, and the Ministry of Commerce.


Saudi authorities intensify preparations at Two Holy Mosques ahead of 27th and 29th nights of Ramadan

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
Updated 09 May 2021

Saudi authorities intensify preparations at Two Holy Mosques ahead of 27th and 29th nights of Ramadan

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said they are working in joint cooperation around the clock. (SPA)
  • The authority intensified COVID-19 preventive measures inside the Two Holy Mosques

JEDDAH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia intensified preparations to receive pilgrims and worshipers for the 27th and 29th nights of the Muslim month of Ramadan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Hani bin Hosni Haider, spokesman for the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, said the authority intensified coronavirus preventive measures, particularly purification and sterilization operations, and technical and transportation operations, including providing vehicles inside the Two Holy Mosques.
Haidar said staff are working around the clock and have also intensified regulating entry and exit mechanisms and services provided to pilgrims and worshipers under the supervision of head of the presidency, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais.
He said that the presidency coordinated with relevant authorities to organize the movement of pilgrims and worshippers inside the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque and its squares, to ensure their safety and to fulfill the precautionary health requirements.
Haidar said the “presidency was keen to intensify its efforts to achieve the aspirations of the Kingdom’s leadership and highlight the great efforts the state is making toward the Two Holy Mosques.”


Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 
Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 

Saudi authorities bust hashish, khat smuggling operations 
  • A total of 41 people have been arrested in connection with the drug smuggling attempts

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested several people in connection with the seizure of a large quantity of illegal drugs in the Jazan and Najran regions.
Lt. Col. Mesfer bin Ghanam Al-Quraini, spokesman for the Border Guards, said that the seizures came as part of the continuous monitoring of criminal drug activities targeting the Kingdom.
Al-Quraini added that 802 kilograms of hashish was seized in Jazan and Najran, and 25 individuals suspected to be involved in the smuggling operation were arrested, including 14 Yemeni nationals, four Ethiopians, three Saudis, two Somalis and two Pakistanis.
He said that among several other security operations conducted by the Border Guards, 25.4 tons of khat were seized in the Jazan region and 16 people were arrested, all of whom are Yemeni nationals.
The spokesman said: “The Border Guards will continue to carry out their tasks with great determination to confront attempts to smuggle narcotic substances across all borders, and arrest those involved.”


Mandatory jabs for office-goers ‘will make workplaces safer’ in Saudi Arabia

Mandatory jabs for office-goers ‘will make workplaces safer’ in Saudi Arabia
Updated 09 May 2021

Mandatory jabs for office-goers ‘will make workplaces safer’ in Saudi Arabia

Mandatory jabs for office-goers ‘will make workplaces safer’ in Saudi Arabia
  • Saudi ministry’s decision would facilitate herd immunity and reduce the number of cases, says expert

RIYADH: The days of working from home may be numbered following a recent government decision making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for employees, with people telling Arab News that the move would curb the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

While some companies are still allowing staff to work from home, others are formulating plans in response to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announcing on Friday that jabs would be mandatory for in-person attendance at workplaces in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
The ministry will clarify the procedures and date for implementing the decision, which is part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
People said the vaccine policy would make the workplace safer.
“I know that a lot of people do not want to take it or do not believe in the safety of the vaccine,” Dr. Mona Al-Munajjed, a writer and adviser on social issues, told Arab News. “However, the rate of people infected is higher and the vaccine is the only way to contain the spread of coronavirus and put fatalities under check. The decision by the ministry is to keep us safe by curbing the spread of COVID-19. The decision is for the safety of employees. In some offices there are too many employees and mixing can cause infection. This is why it is a must to take a vaccine.”
Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, an adviser and law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said the decision would facilitate herd immunity and reduce the number of cases. It would also expedite the return of economic activities in the tourism and entertainment sectors, as well as others, to their pre-pandemic levels, he added.

Such recovery will enhance economic activities that require social interaction and not distancing in order for life to go back to normal.

Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy

“Such recovery will enhance economic activities that require social interaction and not distancing in order for life to go back to normal,” he told Arab News.
“We all have seen the suffering in many developed and advanced countries such as the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and lately India in their fight against this pandemic in terms of deaths, the number of infected cases as well as the economic and social toll inflicted on them, while Saudi Arabia managed with flying colors in organizing vaccination centers and services that run smoothly and efficiently which many other countries failed to do. This achievement by the Kingdom is due to the care and hard work of its leadership to protect the health of its citizens and residents.”
Saudi Arabia’s daily case count at the height of the pandemic was nearly 5,000. More than 425,000 people have been infected since the beginning of the pandemic in March, around 1.2 percent of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million population.
Dr. Manzer H. Siddiqui is from India and works as an associate professor at King Saud University. He said mandatory vaccinations for the workplace were an effective and efficient way to curb the spread of COVID-19, and that the ministry’s decision would save lives and ensure public safety.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Sectors where working from home is not an option will benefit from the ministry’s decision, especially those where people are in close proximity to one another due to the nature of their job.

• Some companies are still allowing staff to work from home, others are formulating plans in response to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announcing on Friday that jabs would be mandatory for in-person attendance at workplaces in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

“Moreover, it will also be crucial to keep all sectors working properly as well as reducing psychological fear and anxiety,” he told Arab News.
Sectors where working from home is not an option will benefit from the ministry’s decision, especially those where people are in close proximity to one another due to the nature of their job.
Waqas Hussain is a Pakistani who is working on the Riyadh Metro project. He said that mandatory vaccines would ensure people’s personal safety and that of their families as well.
“The nature of my work is hectic and busy, with many people coming and going,” he told Arab News. “One can only do so much to keep surfaces clean, wash up and keep the mask on, but it’s a daily struggle especially with the summer near and high temperatures during the day. Many still follow the safety rules but mistakes can happen and that is not something I can afford, especially with my family involved in my daily life. It’s hard to change workplace behavior but you can see that everyone is on board and vaccines are one step closer to returning back to our normal lives safely. My family is safer because of it and it’s something to appreciate and be thankful for.”