RIYADH: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance has stressed the need to take precautionary measures in mosques, including social distancing and the wearing of face masks, to protect worshippers from the COVID-19 virus and its variants.
The ministry said it constantly updates its health guidance and works to implement it, calling on imams and preachers to educate society about the importance of maintaining public health and adherence to the regulations.
The ministry called on worshippers who witness any failure to implement the instructions to report it to the services center on 1933.
Saudi Arabia in ‘critical phase’ of tackling COVID-19, says ministry spokesman
Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly stressed the importance of receiving the necessary vaccine doses and booster shots
Updated 16 January 2022
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rapidly increasing due to the omicron variant, with cases having more than doubled since the beginning of the year.
In a press conference on Sunday, Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the country was currently going through a critical phase in tackling the spread of COVID-19.
He stressed the importance of people receiving the necessary vaccine doses and booster shots.
He also urged people to follow preventative measures such as wearing face masks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distance during the critical phase, with the ministry saying: “Our immunization is our life.”
Saudi Arabia confirmed 5,477 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and one new death.
Al-Abd Al-Aly said although Saudi Arabia was witnessing a jump in confirmed infections, the number of critical cases was lower compared to the previous year’s and that this was a result of the vaccine’s effectiveness and national efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the pandemic outbreak.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual.
Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever and breathing difficulties.
The ministry also announced on Sunday that it had begun administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged between five and 11.
Health officials began administering the COVID-19 jab late last year after the Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for this age group. Priority was given to those considered vulnerable and at high risk from the virus.
The ministry, which has 587 vaccine centers throughout the Kingdom, urged people who had not yet received a jab to register to receive one through its Sehhaty app.
People urged to be vigilant as more thunderstorms, snow forecast for Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom’s civil defense called on everyone to be wary of the severe conditions
The weather warning have been issued until Tuesday
Updated 9 min 52 sec ago
RIYADH: Weather warnings have been issued for several regions across Saudi Arabia lasting until Tuesday, with a significant drop in temperatures, the country’s General Directorate of Civil Defense said Sunday as it urged people to be vigilant.
The authority warned of thunderstorms with light to medium rain and brisk winds that may lead to torrential flows in the capital Riyadh, the Eastern Province, Baha, Asir, Makkah, Tabuk, the Northern Borders, and Madinah.
It also forecast snow in the mountains of Tabuk, parts of Al-Jawf, and the Northern Borders.
Civil defense spokesman Lt. Col. Mohammed Al-Hammadi called on everyone to be wary of the severe conditions, to stay away from places that could flood, and to follow the authority’s instructions and updates announced through news outlets and social media.
The directorate said that most regions would experience a significant drop in temperatures, reaching between zero and 5 degrees Celsius.
The warnings were issued based on data received from the National Center of Meteorology.
Al-Hammadi added that civil defense was ready to implement the necessary plans and measures for weather-related incidents.
Saudi civil defense issued a similar warning a week earlier, with Gulf countries having been on alert since the start of the year due to heavy rains that have caused torrential flows and a significant drop in temperature in recent days.
Saudi and Egyptian forces continue joint warfare maneuvers
The Tabuk 5 exercise began on Jan. 6 in the Kingdom’s northwestern region
Updated 16 January 2022
JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Land Forces continued a joint exercise with the Egyptian Armed Forces in the Kingdom’s northwestern region, the Saudi Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.
The Tabuk 5 exercise, which began on Jan. 6, is “an extension of the joint exercises between the two countries to raise the level of integration, unify the areas of military cooperation and enhance the capabilities of the forces participating in the maneuvers,” the ministry said.
During the past days, the joint forces conducted the preliminary stages of training, which included many activities, events and lectures to unify training concepts, coordinate efforts, and achieve integration between the participating forces.
The director of the fifth edition of the exercise, Maj. Gen. Khalid Mohammed Al-Khashrami, said everything is proceeding according to plan, adding the participants implemented a number of joint training tasks in regular and irregular operations, as well as training in planning and coordinating joint operations and modern warfare methods.
They also carried out ambushes, raids, and reconnaissance using a drone, air incursions, combat in built-up areas, and implemented landing and pick-up exercises, tactical parachute jumping, and free jumping, he said.
Al-Khashrami added that during the coming days, the participating forces will begin several tactical maneuvers, firing with live ammunition, using advanced warfare methods and increasing operational and military coordination.
Saudi Arabia registers 5,477 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
Kingdom has started vaccinating all all children aged 5 to 11
Ministry of Interior records 32,532 violations against precautionary measures, as municipalities shut 51 businesses for COVID-19 breaches
Updated 16 January 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday confirmed 5,477 new COVID-19 infections in the previous 24 hours, meaning 615,430 people have now contracted the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 1,472, followed by Jeddah with 985, Makkah with 425, Madinah confirmed 359, and Al-Hofuf recorded 189.
Of the total number of cases, 336 remain in critical condition.
The ministry confirmed one new coronavirus related death, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,906 since the pandemic began.
The health ministry also announced that 3,405 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 564,947.
Over 53.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 23.4 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the ministry said it has started giving the vaccine to all children aged 5 to 11, after previously only giving it to those considered in the high-risk category in that age group.
The Ministry of Interior reported 32,532 violations in the past week, with the highest number of breaches recorded in Riyadh with 9,722, followed by Madinah with 5,224, the Eastern Province with 3,719, and Makkah with 3,575. Najran region recorded the lowest number of violations with 541.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The Eastern Province Municipality carried out 8,368 tours during the past week and field teams issued fines to 499 commercial outlets and closed eight others for breaching protocols.
Jeddah municipality carried out 5,996 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities in two days, and authorities identified 51 violations and closed 32 businesses.
Authorities in Al-Baha closed 11 commercial establishments and recorded 40 violations during 2,040 inspection tours.
Dr. Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of Al-Baha, said that teams are continuing to intensify their field tours to monitor all facilities around the clock, adding that violating facilities will not be tolerated and maximum penalties will be applied, from issuing fines and penalties to closing businesses.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 327 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.55 million.
INTERVIEW: Recent unrest in Kazakhstan was ‘an assault on our statehood,’ says envoy
‘We received letters from Saudi friends supporting the people of Kazakhstan at this challenging time,” the country’s ambassador to KSA said in an exclusive interview
Updated 16 January 2022
RIYADH: Kazakhstan has experienced a period of unprecedented violence and unrest that had a dramatic effect on the population and threatened to undermine the constitutional order, according to Berik Aryn, the country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. It “is considered as an assault on our statehood,” he said, but added that the situation is now under control.
“The situation in all regions of the country has stabilized and people are returning to normal life,” Aryn said during an exclusive interview with Arab News. “Law enforcement forces have released all previously seized government facilities. The main task today is the defense of our country and its citizens.”
The unrest this month in the country is the worst it has seen in the 30 years since it gained independence.
“On Jan. 2, 2022, peaceful demonstrations started in western regions of Kazakhstan, triggered by a spike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas,” Aryn said.
“Addressing public grievances over the inflation, and social and economic problems, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has decided to control petroleum prices and essential products and services. At the same time, the president urged people not to succumb to internal and external provocations.”
Despite these efforts the protests escalated into violence across the country, he said, including riots, attacks against administrative buildings, military bases and civil facilities, and the seizure of Almaty airport and local and foreign airplanes.
“Regretfully, peaceful demonstrations in Almaty and some other regions were hijacked by perpetrators and both local and foreign terrorist groups,” Aryn said. “Their criminal activities caused riots, looting and mass violence.
“No protest or demonstration in a democratic society can justify attacks and killings of law enforcement officers. These terrorist gangs are fundamentally international, having received severe training abroad, and their attacks should be considered as an act of aggression.”
Saudi Arabia is one of our essential partners in the Middle East. Our countries have built up a trusting political dialogue at a high level, established cultural and humanitarian ties, and are developing trade, economic and investment cooperation.
Berik Aryn, Kazakhstan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia
According to preliminary data, 225 people died during the riots. Some of them are armed bandits who participated in terrorist attacks. Among the dead were 19 police and military personnel. Unfortunately, civilians also became victims of acts of terrorism. 4,578 people were injured, 3,393 of them were law enforcement officers.
Authorities are investigating crimes committed during the unrest and a number of people have been arrested, Aryn said, and among the detainees are foreign citizens whose identities are being established.
The envoy said that destructive forces had tried to take advantage of the situation to destabilize the country. They set fire to and tried to destroy administrative buildings, police stations, hospitals and other social facilities, he added.
Armed with military weapons and equipment, they attempted to seize control of strategic facilities in the south of the country such as Almaty airport, the National Security Committee building in Almaty, the offices of TV stations, and other important facilities, Aryn said.
“In doing so, they killed and used force against civilians,” he added. “They cannot be called insurgents since their actions are considered terrorist and extremist acts. Indeed, the investigation and the court will determine the degree of guilt of each detainee and the innocents will be released. Call centers were opened throughout Kazakhstan to provide legal assistance to citizens affected by the terrorist attack.
“Kazakhstan will continue to ensure the rights and interests of all representatives of our multiethnic and multireligious people and the safety of foreign citizens in the country, including the diplomatic corps and journalists. The government guarantees the protection of foreign investment and foreign companies’ business.”
The attempted coup d’etat and the efforts to damage the country’s integrity failed because the vast majority of Kazakhstan’s people displayed patriotism and unity in the fight against the extremists during the tragic events, the envoy said.
On Jan. 11, the president addressed parliament and outlined the priorities for building a bright future for Kazakhstan, which included enhancing people’s welfare, reforming the political, social, economic and law enforcement systems, and strengthening national security, according to Aryn.
He also introduced the new prime minister, Alikhan Smailov, who assumed office on Jan. 5. Smailov said that his government will endeavor to fulfill the tasks set by the President to improve the quality of life of the people of Kazakhstan.
Responding to the support for stability that his country has received from the international community, Aryn said: “The president addressed the heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to provide military assistance for the counterterrorist operation.”
The CSTO is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of select post-Soviet states. Aryn said that during a speech in Parliament, President Tokayev announced that CSTO peacekeepers sent to assist efforts to restore order had completed their mission, and on Jan. 14 they started a gradual withdrawal from the country.
“Many countries and leaders of the world community supported the people of Kazakhstan and President Tokayev,” Aryn added. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states and Arab leaders were among the first to condemn the terrorist acts in Kazakhstan and express their support.
“On Jan. 13, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, during a telephone conversation with Mukhtar Tileuberdi, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan, expressed support and solidarity of the government of Saudi Arabia to the people of Kazakhstan.
“We received a massive number of letters from our Saudi friends, who decided to support the people of Kazakhstan at this challenging time, and we express our gratitude for this support.”
Arynb said that Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia have close ties and their humanitarian cooperation includes active collaboration through the work of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).
In 2017, financial assistance from the Kingdom worth $7 million helped fund construction of a regional tuberculosis clinic in Semeyr with 80 beds. Earlier, a medical center for mothers and children in Nur-Sultan received equipment worth more $3.5 million.
“Saudi Arabia is one of our essential partners in the Middle East,” Aryn said. “Our countries have built up a trusting political dialogue at a high level, established cultural and humanitarian ties, and are developing trade, economic and investment cooperation.
“We attach great importance to further comprehensive development and expansion of bilateral relations.”
In December 1991, Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence, Aryn said, and diplomatic relations were established in 1994. In the years since then, the relationship has developed rapidly.