JEDDAH: People who intentionally transmit COVID-19 and place the public’s health at risk in Saudi Arabia will be “severely punished” and face fines and jail time, the Kingdom’s Public Prosecution has warned.
The government agency released a statement on Friday that said individuals who commit the crime will face up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to SR500,000 ($266,000), while expats will be deported and prohibited from ever returning to the Kingdom. The statement added that if the violation is repeated, the punishment will be doubled.
Penalties for private rights vary, depending on the gravity of the crime and the resulting harm.
It comes as health authorities warn that an alarming rise in daily coronavirus cases in recent weeks was the result of improper public behaviors. These behaviors include overcrowding in public places, private gatherings exceeding the maximum people limit, and noncompliance with social distancing, face mask and hand-washing guidelines.
For the fifth day in a row, Saudi Arabia reported a daily case count above the 1,000 mark after 1,072 cases were recorded, raising the total number of cases to 411,263 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Riyadh region reported the highest count with 447. It was followed by Makkah with 236 and the Eastern Province with 164.
The rest of the Kingdom’s regions reported fewer than 50 cases each, with Baha and Jouf each recording just 10 cases.
As the number of cases continues to rise, the number of active cases is approaching the 10,000 mark. There are now 9,874 active cases in the Kingdom, 1,224 of which are in critical condition.
The number of recoveries has increased to 394,529 over the course of the pandemic, with 858 new recoveries reported in the past 24 hours. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is holding steady at 95.9 percent.
The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,887 after nine more coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
The Saudi Ministry of Health has announced that more than 8 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across 587 vaccine centers in the Kingdom. Vaccines are being delivered at a rate of about 149,213 per day.
Almost 22.9 percent of the Kingdom’s population have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far.