NHL to be first global central lab in Middle East: Minister

Updated 19 March 2016

NHL to be first global central lab in Middle East: Minister

RIYADH: The National Health Laboratory (NHL) in Riyadh will soon be made the first global central laboratory in the Middle East, Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih has said here.

As part of the development plan, the minister has issued directives to equip and operate the laboratory in such a way that it can play a vital role vis-a-vis national and international surveillance networks and top quality services.
In this regard, the NHL organized a workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the technical specifications and preliminary design of the schemes, proposed for biosafety laboratories that are suggested to be established in the NHL.
The scheme is aimed at ensuring the best results, by means of participation of specialists, as well as briefing on the global standards adopted in designing such laboratories.
The two-day workshop comprised many worksheets and fruitful discussions, notably the definition of the project, a detailed presentation of the engineering designs of biosafety laboratories, the general specifications and engineering standards, and the laboratory equipment and furnishing, in addition to the preparation of the general specifications of the project.
The workshop also included many discussions on advanced devices that will be available at the NHL.
Dr. Ali bin Muhammad Al-Shanqeeti, CEO of the laboratory, said this project will be implemented at the highest international standards adopted for the establishment of such laboratories, in line with the global lab-style; so as to be the first of its kind in the Middle East.
He said the NHL will play a key role in the diagnosis of communicable diseases and the identification of their high-risk causes that require a special control by a high-level specialized technical staff, in such a manner that helps the NHL achieve its objectives and move forward according to the road map set to it as part of the strategy of the MoH Agency for Laboratories and Blood Banks.
It is worth mentioning that this workshop was attended by a number officials from relevant departments in the MOH and a number of specialists in the field of laboratory, with participation of one of the international companies specialized in this domain.
The participants paid a reconnaissance tour to the NHL headquarters here, which consists of four buildings housing laboratories, in addition to the three-story main building, which has offices of the administrative and technical staff, in addition to the scientific lectures at the auditorium.

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 3 min 54 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.