Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

Medical vehicles, seen on March 23, 2020 outside Jeddah's King Fahad Medical City, are to be used in the campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. (Saudi Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

  • The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26
  • Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year

JEDDAH: Leaders from the G20 will hold a videoconference to “advance a coordinated global response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its human and economic implications,” according to a statement published by the Saudi secretariat. The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26. Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year.

The meeting is set to discuss the implications of the global pandemic — which has now infected more than 430,000 globally in 196 countries and territories, its social and economic impact, and measures to stave off a global economic recession. Representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will also participate.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News that the G20 has never been more relevant than it is today. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri

“The G20 represents a structure which includes the world’s twenty largest national economies,” he said. “This summit is exceptional as it will not only focus on the implications for the health of global citizens due to the spread of coronavirus, but also on the threat it poses to economies, global food security and many other issues.

“I think 70-80 percent of the summit will focus on these discussion points. The world’s largest economies are bearing a heavy burden as they provide support to many developing countries facing this pandemic and a roadmap must be put in place to face the crisis,” Al-Shehri continued, adding that unity was vital, as countries “can’t fight this fight alone.” Without a united global front, he said, the economic and health implications of the virus will be much harder to overcome.

The virtual summit, Al-Shehri believes, will encourage greater coordination and critical exchange of experience and knowledge. 

The government of Saudi Arabia has, like many others around the world, taken extreme precautionary measures as a result of the call for international coordination and multilateral efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. This has played an important role in ensuring the safety and well-being of residents of the Kingdom, but also of other countries. 

“Saudi Arabia was (one of the first countries) to send emergency medical aid to China at the beginning of the outbreak,” said Lina K. Almaeena, Saudi Shoura Council member.

Lina K. Almaeena

“The Kingdom has also responded to the WHO’s urgent appeal and has provided $10 million in financial support. It has taken bold and assertive measures to curb the spread of the virus by suspending schools, Umrah pilgrimage, and travel to and from the country as a means to protect citizens and residents of all nationalities and religions living within its borders, as well as guaranteeing medical treatment to all.

“The coronavirus has made it clearer than ever that we are all global citizens,” Almaeena continued. “I hope that the virtual G20 Summit — led by Saudi Arabia — will come up with innovative recommendations that will further curb the outbreak.”

“The extraordinary initiative taken by King Salman is critical, as the world is going through a major crisis with the coronavirus pandemic — a crisis that the world has never seen the likes of before,” Dr. Alia Aldahlawi, Saudi Shoura Council member, told Arab News. “At the present time, a global coordinated response, in cooperation with all health agencies and institutions, must put standards in place to confine the spread, reduce infection rates and gain control over the pandemic.

“I believe this exceptional meeting will have a major impact in crisis management, led by the Kingdom, with positive outcomes on the economic and health front at an international level,” she added.


Saudi Arabia confirms 154 new coronavirus cases

Updated 48 min 13 sec ago

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.”