Opinion

Saudi Arabia announces first case of coronavirus

The Kingdom's health ministry said it sent an infection control team immediately to check on the citizen. (Screenshot/Ministry of Health)
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Updated 03 March 2020

Saudi Arabia announces first case of coronavirus

  • Kingdom's health ministry sent an infection control team immediately
  • Virus identified in Saudi citizen traveling from Iran through Bahrain

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported its first case of the new coronavirus on Monday amid growing fears that a surge in the number of those infected in Iran is threatening the whole region.

The Kingdom had been free of the virus for more than three months as it spread from China to 66 countries.

Almost all those infected in the Middle East have recently traveled to Iran, or have been in contact with someone who has been there.

The Saudi virus patient traveled from Iran via Bahrain over the King Fahad Causeway, the Health Ministry said on Monday.  The man is in quarantine and all those he has been in contact with are being tested.

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READ MORE - LIVE: Middle East on high alert as Jordan, Tunisia announce first cases of coronavirus

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In Iran, the number of those infected rose by 523 to 1,501, and the death toll from the virus rose from 54 to 66. 

Among the dead was Mohammad Mirmohammadi, 71, a member of the  Expediency Council, the powerful body that advises Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and settles disputes with parliament.

The virus has killed more people in Iran than anywhere except China. A team from the World Health Organization arrived in Tehran on Monday with medical supplies, protective equipment for health care workers and laboratory kits to test nearly 100,000 people.

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Elsewhere in the region, virus cases were reported for the first time in Tunisia and Jordan, and there were 10 new cases in Kuwait, six each in Iraq and Bahrain, four more in Qatar, three in Lebanon, two in Iraq and a second case in Egypt.

Worldwide, the virus has infected at least 89,000 people and killed more than 3,000, mostly in China. Outside China there have been more than 8,800 cases and 130 deaths, with secondary outbreaks in Iran and northern Italy.

The first new cases were reported on Monday in Andorra, Armenia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Iceland
and Indonesia.

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Saudi Arabia confirms 154 new coronavirus cases

Updated 31 March 2020

Saudi Arabia confirms 154 new coronavirus cases

  • Sixteen of the new cases had come from abroad

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly on Monday confirmed 154 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Kingdom. Sixteen of the new cases had come from abroad.

“Since their entry into Saudi Arabia, they have been placed in quarantine,” said Al-Aly at the daily press conference held to announce updates on COVID-19 in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia announced free treatment to all COVID-19 patients in both government and private health facilities in the Kingdom.

Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced the royal order and said it included citizens, residents and those in violation of residency laws.

Al-Aly said: “This gesture is undoubtedly — as the health minister stressed — customary in this country. It is a very important humanitarian step. It adds to all the previous steps that the country has taken to give this community the highest levels of protection and health security.”

Al-Aly provided a breakdown of the latest cases. The majority were recorded in Makkah, with 40 cases, followed by Dammam (34), Riyadh (22) and Madinah (22). Jeddah, Hofuf, Khobar, Qatif and Taif all recorded a low number of cases.

Tabuk, Buraidah, Yanbu, Al-Ras, Khamis Mushait, Dhahran, Samtah and Al-Duwadimi reported one case each.

“This brings the total number of registered cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom to 1,453. Most of the patients are in a stable condition and are showing uplifting results,” Al-Aly said.

He said 22 cases are still receiving intensive care, given their critical health conditions. “No additional deaths were recorded and 49 additional cases were treated, bringing the total number of recovering cases to 115,” he added.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases worldwide has reached 734,000. Around 34,000 people have died; 152,000 have recovered.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Talal Al-Shalhoub said that a number of neighborhoods in Makkah will be isolated as a further precautionary measure.

He said the restriction was introduced to limit the spread of the virus in the Kingdom and to preserve the health and safety of citizens and residents.

Al-Shalhoub said the isolation measures would be implemented in Ajyad, Masafi,Misfalah, Al-Hujun, Al-Nakkasa and Hosh Bakr.

He added that the restrictions will be “preventing entry or exit … and preventing touring throughout the day for 24 hours, from 3 p.m. as of March 30 until further notice.”

Residents of the selected Makkah neighborhoods will be allowed to leave their homes for necessities such as health care and groceries “within the scope of the isolation between 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

The ministry said that all activities that have been allowed during curfew hours should be carried out in the strictest limits and in accordance with the procedures and controls determined by the concerned authority.

Saudi intensive care unit patient Moayad Qashqari encouraged all residents to seek medical attention if they experience any symptoms.

Commenting on the royal order, he said: “This is a call for all residents in our country; whether they are residence violators or those whose residency has expired. The hospital doors are opened for them, they will not be rejected if their residency has expired.”

He added: “They will be provided with treatment to go home fully recovered. All residents must take this step to look after their health and the well-being of their families. If it isn’t fatal to one person, it could be fatal to someone else.

“We advise everyone to be cooperative and take responsibility.”
 

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