MOH News

COVID-19 Follow-up Committee Reviews Latest Updates of the Fight Against the Pandemic
23 March 2020

On Monday afternoon, the COVID-19 Follow-up Committee held its 33rd meeting. Chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr. Tawfik bin Fawzan al-Rabiah. The meeting was attended by the committee members, who represent the relevant government agencies. During the meeting, all relevant COVID-19 updates and reports were reviewed. 

The committee has discussed the global epidemiological situation, as well as the cases reported locally and their health condition. All precautionary measures carried out at the points of entry into the Kingdom will continue in full, the committee stressed, and will be further tightened. Hence, the committee has called on everyone to stay home, and refrain from going unless necessary (during the hours when going out is permissible).

The meeting was followed by a joint press conference, the participants in which included Dr. Muhammad al-Abdulaali, MOH spokesman, Lt. Col. Talal al-Shalhoub, Ministry of Interior spokesman, Mr. Ali al-Mutairi, Communications and Information Technology Commission spokesman, and Mr. Abdul-Rahman al-Hussein, Ministry of Commerce spokesman. The MOH spokesman mentioned that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has amounted 343,000 cases, of which 99,000 cases have recovered to date.  As for the COVID-19 death toll, it has jumped to 14,700.

“51 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Kingdom,” said Al-Abdulaali. “These include 25 cases coming from abroad, and are currently quarantined. While the remaining 26 cases have been in contact with previously reported cases.” This brings the total cases tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kingdom up to 562 cases, of which 19 cases have recovered, and—thanks be to Allah!—no deaths have been reported to date.

Al-Abdulaali pointed out that these new cases were recorded in the following cities and governorates: 18 in Riyadh, 12 in Makkah, 6 in Taif, 5 in Bisha, 3 in Dammam, 3 in Al-Qatif, 2 in Jazan, 1 in Najran, and 1 in Al-Qunfudah. Of the total COVID-19 cases in KSA, 266 are males, and 296 are females—all adults except for 29 cases in children. Laboratories have conducted 28,000 COVID-19 tests: except for the 562 confirmed cases, all other cases have tested negative for the virus. 

Al-Abdulaali stressed that everyone should stick to the preventive health precautions, for the safety of their health and their community. Such precautions include avoiding hand-shaking, washing hands with water and soap over and over again, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, disposing napkins, staying home as much as possible, keeping away from gatherings, and never going out unless a strong need arises. As for those coming from abroad, they must self-isolate themselves for 14 days. He reiterated the importance of self-assessment against the COVID-19 symptoms, making use of the ‘Mawid’ service, provided by MOH for all citizens and residents. So far, around 70,000 individuals have benefited from the service.

He went on to warn against rumors, and encourage everybody to get information from the authentic sources, most importantly the MOH announces. “Anyone who experiences symptoms, or has a question can call the 937 Service Center,” said the MOH spokesman. “The Center has received over 325,000 COVID-19-related questions and inquiries to date.”

For his part, Lt. Col. Talal al-Shalhoub, spokesman of the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and director-general of media affairs, said: “We all know about the Royal Order issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, by virtue of which the curfew shall be effective as of Monday, 28th of Rajab, 1441H. We know also about the MOI’s subsequent statement, in which the Ministry pointed out the penalties to be applied to the violators.”

“Security men shall start enforcing the curfew order today at 07:00pm till 06:00 in the morning,” Lt. Col. Al-Shalhoub pointed out. “The security men are now deployed throughout the Kingdom’s cities, governments, towns and villages to put the curfew into effect.”

“The statutory penalties shall be strictly applied to anyone who infringes the curfew,” Al-Shalhoub stressed. Meanwhile, he called on everybody to show cooperation, and mentioned that going out shall only be permissible in cases of ‘absolute necessity’. The MOI statement defines which cases shall be deemed to be absolute necessity. To inquire whether a certain case is an absolute necessity, citizens and residents are encouraged to call 911 if in the Western Region, and 999 in the remaining regions.

In his statement in the joint press conference, the spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), Abdul-Rahman Al-Hussein, made clear that the curfew will not affect the essential services that citizens need. Such services, including more than 9 sectors working during the curfew hours, can still be delivered to citizens through online tools.

The MOC is working closely with the rest of government agencies around the clock to serve citizens and residents, Al-Hussein said. He touched on the initiative made by the Ministry, in cooperation with the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), to stimulate the delivery services working in the Kingdom to expand and work harder, with a view to meet the local demand on grocery items, vegetables, fruits, meat, and the like food items. The underlying goal is to secure such items to citizens and residents during the curfew hours.

The MOC spokesman affirmed that the Ministry’s oversight teams will continue to work during the curfew hours. They will be present at all food sectors and warehouses, he said, to ensure the availability of food items. He revealed that citizens and residents can report any violations in this respect by calling Customer Protection number (1900), or through the mobile application designed for that purpose (Balagh Tijari - Commercial Report). Through its oversight teams deployed across the Kingdom, MOC has observed that, by and large, the shopper turnout remains within the normal range. Meanwhile, he thanked consumers for their awareness, and for avoiding overcrowding at the stores and outlets, especially given the fact that the Kingdom has an abundant stock of food supply.

Ali al-Mutairi, director-general of corporate communication at CITC, mentioned that, ever since the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold, the Commission has embraced a package of precautionary measures. These included circulating safety requirements to all courier companies, and activating the CITC-certified home-delivery platforms and applications. Moreover, Al-Mutairi said, the Commission has conducted several inspection tours to ensure the observance of such measures on a continuing basis, especially given the big demand induced by the curfew.

Al-Mutairi called on citizens and residents to use the home-delivery applications listed on the CITC website. These applications are available around the clock, he said, so that everyone can make orders from the sectors exempted from the curfew. He strongly encouraged anyone who observes a violation to report it by calling the 24/7 number: 19966.

Last Update : 26 March 2020 08:12 AM
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