Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 press conferences come to an end

Saudi Arabia will no longer require travelers to undergo mandatory COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom. Passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test upon their arrival. (Supplied)
Saudi Arabia will no longer require travelers to undergo mandatory COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom. Passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test upon their arrival. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 March 2022

Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 press conferences come to an end

Saudi Arabia will no longer require travelers to undergo mandatory COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom. Passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test upon their arrival. (Supplied)
  • ‘Saudi Arabia has almost overcome the pandemic completely, thanks to the expansion in the immunization drive and enhanced community awareness programs,’ says health official

JEDDAH/RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Health ended its COVID-19 press conferences, after the country lifted most precautionary and preventive measures related to combating coronavirus.

In the final press conference, Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly and Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub thanked everyone who had taken part in organizing the briefings for the past two years, as well as thanking the media and the general public for their awareness and adherence to precautionary measures to tackle the pandemic.
“The Kingdom has almost overcome the pandemic completely, thanks to the expansion in the immunization drive and enhanced community awareness programs,” Al-Aly told the press conference.




The issue of daily statistical reports of coronavirus cases will also be suspended.
Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly
Health Ministry spokesman

From March 22, 2020, at the start of the pandemic in the Kingdom and amid a time of uncertainty and fear, people across the country would tune in to the ministerial press conferences to learn about the virus and seek reassurance from experts about the measures the government was taking during the global health emergency. 
Almost two years on, there have been 225 press conferences featuring different ministries and government agencies.
They included the ministries of interior and education, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and the Public Health Authority. Together, they guided the public on the steps needed to combat the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In the final press conference, Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly and Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub thanked everyone who had taken part in organizing the briefings for the past two years, as well as thanking the media and the general public for their awareness and adherence to precautionary measures to tackle the pandemic.

• From March 22, 2020, at the start of the pandemic in the Kingdom and amid a time of uncertainty and fear, people across the country would tune in to the ministerial press conferences to learn about the virus and seek reassurance from experts about the measures the government was taking during the global health emergency.  

• Almost two years on, there have been 225 press conferences featuring different ministries and government agencies. They included the ministries of interior and education, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and the Public Health Authority. Together, they guided the public on the steps needed to combat the pandemic.

Taiseer Almofarej, executive director of corporate communication and awareness at the SFDA, said that each stage he participated in was a response to what was happening at the time. 
“At the beginning we sensed a responsibility during the slogan we are all responsible, and then anticipation during the phase of returning (to normal life) cautiously, and motivation during the vaccine rollout,” Almofarej told Arab News.

Education Ministry spokesperson Ibtisam Al-Shehri said the COVID-19 crisis was difficult for everyone, and even more so for the millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers in the Kingdom because of the uncertainty brought on by school closures and the unfamiliarity with new teaching methods.

She recalled the scenes of empty schools and classrooms after in-person attendance was suspended, but also the efforts that were made to reach students during lockdown.
“I felt proud that I was part of the work team who, with the support of rational leadership and follow-up from the minister of education, made great efforts to continue the study and educational process for students and not stop it for one day,” she told Arab News.
Al-Shehri, who is the first Saudi woman to be an official spokesperson in a government agency, said that while social relations were affected during the pandemic due to precautionary measures, people were able to adapt to the new conditions.
“We are eagerly returning to normal life,” she added, expressing her happiness that the crisis was being overcome.
Saad Al-Hammad had permission to move during the curfew period because of the nature of his work, as a spokesperson for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, and he remembered how Riyadh’s streets were almost empty of pedestrians, cars, and activity.
“It was making me constantly think about the human condition and life,” he told Arab News.
He said he was happy at the declining number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia and how life was returning to normal.
Al-Hammad, who also writes for the online Sabq newspaper, said: “The pandemic may have drawn new patterns of relationships and human communication, but it did not shake our connection with our loved ones, relatives and friends.”
Sultan Al-Qahtani, the spokesman for the Saudi Housing Program, felt that his routine had “really changed” since Sunday.
He also said that the lessons learned during the pandemic were useful and had benefits, adding that having to communicate remotely for long periods had placed him in several difficult situations.
“Distance communication is a form of communication, but sometimes, especially in delicate or complex topics, for example, you may need to communicate with others face to face.”
The Ministry of Health press conference aired everyday during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. It then went on to three times a week, and eventually ended up taking place once a week.
Al-Aly said the ministry would continue providing important information and developments related to the pandemic and that a press conference would be held only if necessary or new developments took place. 
The ministry has also stopped the daily reports being shared though the Saudi Press Agency.
“The issue of daily statistical reports of coronavirus cases will also be suspended. However, the data will be available for experts and specialists on the official website of the ministry,” the spokesman said.
The precautionary measures lifted include all social distancing measures, including the axing of social distancing in the Two Holy Mosques. Wearing masks outdoors is no longer mandatory.
Saudi Arabia will no longer require travelers to undergo mandatory COVID-19 quarantine upon arrival in the Kingdom. Passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test upon their arrival.
But all arrivals in the Kingdom on visit visas of any kind are required to get insurance that covers the cost of treatment from any coronavirus infection.
Wearing masks indoors is still required and people will still need to show their immunity status on the Tawakkalna app to enter commercial establishments such as hotels and restaurants.
“Feelings of pride prevail over any other feeling, and we have the right to be proud of what Saudi Arabia has provided during the pandemic at all health, social, humanitarian and economic levels, as these efforts were a model for professional dealing in crisis management worldwide,” Almofarej said.


Al-Sheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

Al-Sheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit
Updated 07 October 2022

Al-Sheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

Al-Sheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

JAKARTA: A delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, headed by speaker of the Shoura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh, participated at the eighth G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit on Oct. 5, 2022.

The summit, held in Jakarta, was themed “Recover Together, Recover Stronger.”

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Duarte Pacheco, and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia Puan Maharani, were also present.

Widodo delivered the opening speech and welcomed the various parliament speakers, stressing the importance of the group, which seeks to solve all problems facing the world’s population, referring to the significance of communication among all countries to realize economic recovery and create a more prosperous and developed world.

Indonesia is the host of this year's gathering of the world's top 20 economies, coming next after Italy (2021) and Saudi Arabia (2020).

The G20 members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.


Saudi Arabia’s Qassim launches breast cancer awareness campaign 

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim launches breast cancer awareness campaign 
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim launches breast cancer awareness campaign 

Saudi Arabia’s Qassim launches breast cancer awareness campaign 

QASSIM: Al-Qassim Health Cluster launched a breast cancer awareness campaign, “Qassim is Rosary,” on Wednesday as part of international Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. 

The Qassim Health Assembly said that more than 180 of its health centers and facilities have been designated to conduct initial examinations for the early detection of breast cancer.

The campaign, targeting women aged between 18-60, aims to educate the community about the dangers and causes of breast cancer, as well as methods of prevention and early detection. 

It also encourages women to book mammogram appointments at clinics available in the region. 

The event also featured stories of women who recovered from breast cancer as well as folkloric performances.

The awareness campaign will be held at women’s government facilities, universities and colleges, and parks.


Global Health Exhibition starts in Riyadh Sunday

Global Health Exhibition starts in Riyadh Sunday
Updated 06 October 2022

Global Health Exhibition starts in Riyadh Sunday

Global Health Exhibition starts in Riyadh Sunday

RIYADH: Thousands of medical professionals and industry leaders are heading to Riyadh for this year’s Global Health Exhibition.

The conference is being held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center from Sunday to Tuesday under the patronage of Minister of Health Fahad Al-Jalajel. 

It is expected to attract more than 10,000 specialists and 250 companies from 30 countries.

The exhibition provides opportunities for visitors to meet fellow professionals and policymakers, and coincides with large investments by Saudi Arabia into healthcare under its Vision 2030 reform plan.

The forum will host conferences on public health, integrated care, and the future of medical laboratories and radiology.

The event will also launch the Leaders Forum, which will bring healthcare leaders and government officials together to discuss digital transformation and efficiency.

The GHE attracted thousands of healthcare professionals and companies in 2018 to 2019 and virtually in 2020 to 2021.


Saudi Arabia’s Al-Baha to double Shadawi coffee production

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Baha to double Shadawi coffee production
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Baha to double Shadawi coffee production

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Baha to double Shadawi coffee production
  • Over 1,000 new jobs, tourism boost expected, says agriculture official
  • Farmers provided funding, irrigation equipment and seedlings

Al-Baha plans to double its production of its famous Shadawi coffee beans, a move that would create jobs and income for the region, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Al-Baha is home to more than 200 farms that have over 22,000 trees growing beans of the highest quality, SPA reported.

There is room for growth, with an overall area of 1.6 million square meters available that has the capacity for 300,000 trees.

Fahd bin Muftah Al-Zahrani, director of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in the region, said: “Coffee production will increase by 100 percent. It will also create 1,000 new jobs. It will have a business, training, and exhibition center, making the region a distinct agricultural tourism destination.”

Al-Zahrani said the mountainous terrain requires careful cultivation to allow the trees to flourish.

The ministry has started providing farmers with access to water sources, and tanks for storage with the capacity ranging from 60 to 240 tons.

Farmers have also been supported with modern irrigation equipment and seedlings. This initiative has so far benefitted 122 farmers.

In addition, the ministry is providing financial support for small farmers through its Rural Program, which will help them produce, manufacture and market the coffee beans.


Saudi Red Crescent Authority courses benefit 113,000

Saudi Red Crescent Authority courses benefit 113,000
Updated 06 October 2022

Saudi Red Crescent Authority courses benefit 113,000

Saudi Red Crescent Authority courses benefit 113,000

 

RIYADH: The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has successfully organized 918 training courses and awareness lectures across the Kingdom, benefitting more than 113,000 people this year, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

On the occasion of World Teacher’s Day, Abdulaziz Al-Suwaine, the authority’s official spokesperson, said: “The authority is keen to spread the culture of first aid in educational institutions and introduce people to ways to deal with cases of sickness that require urgent intervention before the arrival of the emergency teams.

“This aims to save more lives and alleviate suffering, which would strengthen the health safety means in communities and educational facilities. Therefore, the authority held numerous awareness-raising training courses and lectures in these institutions.”

Of the 214 training courses organized at educational institutions, the Qassim region had the highest share with 52. Meanwhile, the Eastern region received 704 awareness lectures.

“The authority has previously launched several awareness-raising initiatives. The most significant of these initiatives was ‘A Safe School,’ which aims at training all those working within the educational system, be it teachers, administrative employees or students, to introduce them to the basics of first aid. The initiative included the provision of a set of training courses and lectures that suit different age groups,” Al-Suwaine said.