JEDDAH: The Saudi government has begun distributing SR500,000 ($133,333) in financial assistance to families of healthcare workers who died of COVID-19.
The aid was to recognize the healthcare workers’ service and sacrifices during the pandemic, according to the health minister and chairman of the Saudi Health Council, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah.
Grant beneficiaries include relatives of Saudi and expatriate workers, including civilian and military personnel in the public and private healthcare sectors.
The grant distribution came as Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly confirmed at a press conference on Sunday that the country’s epidemiological curve was witnessing a noticeable decline in the number of new cases, stressing that vaccines had played a major role in this development.
He slammed claims that children had died after being jabbed. “They are lies and fallacies that have nothing to do with reality,” he said.
The country is preparing for students to return to the classroom by the end of this month, with the Health Ministry and Education Ministry encouraging people to take the vaccine and not fall victim to rumors.
“Don’t be deceived,” said Al-Aly. “The vaccines are safe and effective, 99 percent of those in intensive care units due to COVID-19 are not vaccinated. Experts around the world classify the current stage of the pandemic as the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.’”
The campaign to fully vaccinate students above the age of 12 and education staff continued apace, according to Education Ministry spokesperson Ibtisam Al-Shehri.
“The return to school is the most important factor to indicate a real return to normal life,” she told the press conference, saying that parents must ensure their children did not miss their vaccine appointments.
Fully vaccinated school students at the intermediate and secondary levels will be able to attend school from the start of the new academic year.
But primary students will continue their education online, as will those who are at intermediate level but younger than 12.
“These measures will continue until the end of October or until we achieve herd immunity by 70 percent, whichever comes first,” Al-Shehri added.
There are 3.1 million students at the intermediate and secondary levels in Saudi Arabia and 45 percent have received one dose, 19 percent have had both, and 6 percent have recovered from COVID-19.
Saudi Arabia reported 731 new cases on Sunday, raising the total number of infections to 533,516. Of the new cases, 151 were in Makkah, 132 were in the Eastern Province, and 129 were in Riyadh.
There have been an additional 620 patient recoveries, raising this total to 514,982, and a further 14 coronavirus-related deaths to take the death toll to 8,334. More than 29.9 million vaccines have been administered so far in Saudi Arabia, at a rate of 359,695 per day.