JEDDAH: Saudi health authorities are urging parents to organize coronavirus vaccinations for their children aged 12 and above to further protect the population from emerging and dangerous variants of the disease.
In a joint press conference on Sunday headed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Interior spokespersons, health spokesperson Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly warned that though it is natural for viruses to mutate, the Delta variant has become a “cause for concern.”
Despite the warning, studies have shown that vaccines are effective in protecting children from the dangerous variant, Al-Aly said.
The ministry received questions on the use of vaccines, and the spokesman confirmed the safety of jab distribution among children.
Al-Aly was asked: “Children have a strong immune system, and there has been no critical coronavirus cases among them. Why should they be vaccinated?”
He responded: “This piece of information is wrong. Yes, critical cases number less among children and the youth in general, including those 18 and under, even 12 and under. They are less susceptible to extreme complications than those in older categories, but it is not true at all that they are not exposed to critical cases.”
The spokesman confirmed that the new Delta variant has affected children in different parts of the world. “Critical cases for children have been reported around the world, and the Delta variant was registered in the younger category of patients,” he said.
Speaking at the same press conference, Ministry of Interior spokesman Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that pilgrims attempting to gain access to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and other holy sites during the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage without a permit will be fined SR10,000 ($2,666) starting July 5 until July 23.
In just one week, the Ministry of Interior registered 2,0213 COVID-19 health measure violations.
A total of 1,173 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Sunday, meaning that 492,785 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The Eastern Province topped the regional list with the highest case count with 273. It was followed by Riyadh with 227, Makkah with 222 and Qassim with 115 cases. Jouf continues to be the region with the lowest numbers, with just eight cases reported on Sunday.
The number of active cases declined to 11,970, with critical cases also falling to 1,348, a decline of 16 from the previous day.
A further 1,389 new recoveries were recorded, bringing the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 472,939. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is holding steady at 96.9 percent.
Thirteen new COVID-19-related deaths were reported, raising the Kingdom’s death toll to 7,876.
The Kingdom has administered more than 18.4 million COVID-19 vaccines so far at a rate of 148,346 doses per day. Almost 53 percent of the Kingdom’s population has been inoculated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 1.73 million people have received both doses so far as the Kingdom moves forward with second dose inoculations for people above the age of 40.
There were 85,539 PCR tests carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number conducted in the Kingdom to more than 22.2 million.
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority-affiliated Tawakkalna app has announced the release of a new version that contains updated options, including a health passport program for easier travel.
The passport update includes information about the COVID-19 travel insurance policy, which has been approved by the Saudi Central Bank and Council of Cooperative Health Insurance.
The health passport contains traveler information regarding immunization status, the date and result of the most recent PCR test, and the insurance policy and its validity.
It also improves travel procedures by providing travel-related information as part of efforts to improve the application experience for Tawakkalna users.
The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority urged people to update their Tawakkalna apps to the most recent version in order to make use of the service.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dahwah and Guidance reopened nine mosques across three regions after they were temporarily evacuated and sterilized, bringing the total number of mosques sterilized and ready to enter within 148 days to 1,757.