Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

Neil Crompton, British ambassador
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Updated 26 March 2020

Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

  • The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic

RIYADH: As the world is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi leadership has called for an extraordinary virtual summit of G20 leaders on Thursday.

The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic. In an unprecedented move, the summit will be held online and in March, as opposed to the usual date in November.

“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. The UK will work with our friends and allies in the G20 and beyond to galvanize a stronger global effort, coordinate public health measures, increase the resilience of the most vulnerable health systems, restore business confidence and protect jobs,” British Ambassador Neil Crompton told Arab News.

“Thursday’s extraordinary G20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, is an important opportunity to discuss urgent and coordinated international fiscal action to protect the global economy.”

Chinese Ambassador Chen Weiqing told Arab News that his country “highly appreciates the wise and responsible attitude of Saudi leaders in calling for the first virtual extraordinary summit as Saudi Arabia holds the current presidency of the G20.”

“China is ready to work with Saudi Arabia and the international community to continue to address global public health security challenges,” he said.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said: “The virtual summit will serve as a mechanism for the leaders of the G20 member states to share the best practices in order to combat both the health as well as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook said: “As the president of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, has already expressed his welcoming remarks during his phone call with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 24, 2020, Korea sincerely appreciates Saudi Arabia’s initiative for the upcoming extraordinary virtual summit of the G20 leaders.”

He added: “We have an urgent need for collaboration at the G20 level as the entire world is suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Swift action taken by the Saudi leadership has made it possible to hold the virtual summit, he said.

The leaders at the summit will address ongoing efforts to control the pandemic, building confidence, and mitigating the economic and social impact of the outbreak, the South Korean envoy ambassador said.


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.”