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Saudi could see up to 200,000 Covid cases, warns minister

RIYADH, April 8, 2020

Saudi Arabia's health minister, quoting four studies, has warned that the new coronavirus (Covid-19) could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in Saudi Arabia, urging the public to adhere to curbs announced in the kingdom.
 
The kingdom has so far reported 2,795 cases and 41 deaths.
 
The Health Minister Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah said the increase in the rate of infection in the coming period depends primarily on the cooperation of all and their commitment to the instructions and guidelines issued by the authorities. 
 
He warned that some of community members failed to implement the theme “We Are All Responsible”. They are neither taking the dangers of the pandemic seriously enough nor adhering to the warnings issued with regard to avoiding close contact and gatherings, he said according to a statement in the ministry website.​
 
“Out of the principle of transparency we are committed to, I share with you the results of four studies conducted by Saudi and international experts specialised in epidemics field. The results of these studies expect that the number of Covid-19 cases over the next few weeks would be 10,000 at the minimum and up to 200,000 at the maximum,” he said.
 
He warned that the commitment to instructions and measures entirely will reduce the number of cases to the minimum, while non-compliance will lead to a huge increase in the number of cases.
 
He mentioned that the Royal order to impose curfew in the evening was requested by MOH in an endeavor to reduce movement and to bring people’s close contact and gatherings to the minimum. 
 
According to the studies the rate of traffic during 24 hours is still very high as it now represents 46% of the total traffic during the normal days. Such rate doesn’t meet the required goal, therefore, the total curfew was imposed in a number of cities and provinces, he added. 
 
On financing the fight against Covid-19, Al-Rabiah said since the outbreak of the virus SR8 billion has been allocated. Following a virtual meeting, HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has approved an additional SR7 billion bringing the total sanctioned amount to SR15 billion, he added.
 
“This amount will further boost the health sector’s readiness to secure medicine, to activate additional beds, to buy medical devices and required health supplies such as ventilators and testing devices and samples, as well as securing the required medical and technical staff from inside and outside,” he said, adding that MOH’s request to allocate another SR32 billion until the end of current fiscal year has been approved.
 
Saudi Arabia on Sunday extended a 24-hour curfew to all parts of five cities in the kingdom, including captial Riyadh. Other cities included in the Ministry of Ministry of Interior order are: Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran and Hofuf. The curfew will also be extended throughout the provinces of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar until further notice in an effort to combat the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
 
An official source at the Ministry of Interior stated that the move is in line with the implementation of the recommendations of the competent health authorities to raise the degree of precautionary measures and preventive measures to preserve the health and safety of citizens and residents.
 
The ministry said it is allowed - in the narrowest range - for residents to leave their homes to buy only the essential needs, such as medicines and food, within the residential neighbourhood in which they reside, and during the period from 6 am until 3 pm every day. Motor transportation within residential neighbourhoods during this period is limited to only one person, in addition to the driver, to reduce contact to the minimum.



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