MOH News
 Ventilators are Readily Available at all MOH’s Facilities, COVID-19 Monitoring Committee Stresses
07 April 2020

​On Tuesday morning, the COVID-19 Monitoring Committee held its 48th 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. The Committee commended the citizens’ compliance with the curfew, and called on them 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, Mr. Ahmed Al-Towayan, General Manager of the New Communication and Media Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tayseer Al-Mefareg, the Executive Director of Communication and Awareness Administration, Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and Mr. Ali Al-Mutairi, Communication and Information Technology Commission spokesman. The MOH spokesman mentioned that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has jumped to more than 1,400,000 cases, of which 285,000 cases have recovered to date. As for the COVID-19 death toll, it has jumped to 75,000.

 “272 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Kingdom, bringing the total confirmed cases to 2,795, of which 2,139 are active cases” said Al-Abdulaali. He pointed out that 64 new cases have recovered today, bringing the total recoveries to 615 cases. As for the COVID-19 death toll, it has jumped to 41. The MOH spokesman reiterated that anyone who develops symptoms, or is willing to get medical advice, can use the self-assessment application ‘Mawid’, or call 937, which works around the clock.   

For his part, Mr. Ahmed Al-Towayan, General Manager of the New Communication and Media Center at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “following the directives by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his Crown Prince, may Allah protect them, the ministry has launched an electronic platform to enable Saudi citizens abroad wishing to return home to register their information. Registration of requests to return citizens from abroad began on last Sunday April 6th, 2020. 

He thanked the ministries of health, tourism, education, communication and information technology, transport and the General Authority for Civil Aviation for their cooperation with the foreign ministry in launching the platform to enable Saudi citizens abroad to return home safely. The return procedures take five steps implemented by the Saudi missions around the world in addition to the civil aviation and ministries of tourism and health.

He said these steps include submitting a request and receiving an electronic message, setting travel times, going to the airport, arriving in the Kingdom, getting initial examination before taken by special vehicles to the guest houses prepared the tourism ministry and enhanced by the health ministry with the required health standards. They will be quarantined for 14 days, after which they will leave to their homes, he added.  

 “The return trips will be to three cities (Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam), and transportation will be provided for citizens living in other cities, he said, adding that priority would be given to the elderly, emergency cases, persons with special needs and those with cancelled tickets. 

 “We are processing the requests as quickly as possible, Al-Towayan said, stressing that the concerned authorities are doing their best to ensure safe return of all citizens registered with the service”.

He called on everyone to communicate with the e-platform as it is not required to visit the Kingdom diplomatic missions, stressing that, ever since the pandemic was spread, these mission continue and will continue serving the citizen. As per the official directives the due services will be provided to the citizen regardless of the county he lives in, until his safe arrival in the kingdom.
According to Al-Towayan, 196 Saudi citizens have arrived today from the Kingdom of Bahrain via King Fahad Causeway in accordance with the designated plan to bring Saudi citizens back home.

In case a citizen living abroad cannot access Absher app or has lost his passport, he explained that, “the citizen who lost his passport will be issued a laisse-passer and the Amer Center will provide him with a ticket number issued by the Saudi embassy or consulate in the host country”. 
For the citizens stranded abroad since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Kingdom diplomatic missions will aid them and priority will be given to them to return back home safely, he said.

Mr. Tayseer Al-Mefareg, the Executive Director of Communication and Awareness Administration, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority SFDA said that, as a part of its scope of work, the authority has taken a number of precautionary measures, including ensuring the safety of all imported food products, as well as drugs, pharmaceuticals, face masks and sanitizers.
 
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the authority has taken several measures, including suspending export of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, he said. In this regard, we have secured urgent medical equipment and laboratory detection devices from 13 international factories and formed committees, including many government agencies, to support the private sector and facilitate the import of medical supplies and raw materials for sterilizers and face masks, which have been in high demand, he said. 
 
Al-Mefareg said, “One month ago we had 13 sterilizer factories in the Kingdom, today we have 35 factories producing around 1,441,000 liters of sterilizers a week, while the mask factories (8 factories) produce about 3,500,000 pieces weekly”.

He confirmed that the face masks and sterilizers are widely available in pharmacies and warehouses, more than 2,047,000 sterilizers and around 20,000,000 masks of different types. Through the authority’s website or “Reassure Me” app on the smart phone, everyone can locate the pharmacies with good quantities of masks and sterilizers. There are more than 1000 pharmacies listed in both the website and app.

During the past month, more than 81,000 users have downloaded the app and over 830,000 visited the website. Also, you can talk and get information and tips about the sterilizers through the authority’s WhatsApp number, he said. 

He said that, during the past month, all communication channels have been opened for the private sectors, whether through the unified call center, Internet, or video call or e-forms to support drug, sterilizers and medical equipment companies. The government communication office has received 42,000 requests and over 26,550 calls. 

He highlighted the cooperation with the ministries of health and commerce and security agencies to protect the public from the counterfeit products, through over 12,314 inspection visits to facilities, pharmacies and warehouses, he said, adding that more than 277 sample of sterilizers have been tested. Warning messages against counterfeit sterilizers were published on the Saudi Press Agency’s (SPA) website, the authority’s website and social media pages.

He went on saying that more than 1,000 food products, 140 drug samples and 137 medical devices have been tested, and the laboratory results are ready after 45 minutes, thanks to the cooperation of all government agencies. 

He said the authority has announced many initiatives with the aim of enhancing the medication safety, confirming that ventilators are widely available at all MOH’s facilities and other ministries’ facilities. He cited the Kingdom’s experience in providing the ventilators during the Hajj season.
 He stressed that the authority takes the responsibility of ensuring the safety of all imported foods, supervising their proper transport and storage. More than 1,000 food samples have been tested during the last month, he added.

For his part, Mr. Ali Al-Mutairi, Communication and Information Technology Commission spokesman said that the government and learning media usage has grown as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The data usage in the Kingdom is still below the peak level, thanks to the distinctive digital infrastructure, which can accommodate the increase in the digital data consumption.

The average daily consumption of data in the Kingdom amounted to 600MB per a person during the last month of February, or two times the international consumption. Ever since the virus was spread, the individual daily consumption jumped to 800MB, which is three times the international rate, he said, confirming that such increase has no impact on the network. According to the authority’s statistics, the data consumption increased by 33% compared to the last February and March.  The decline in Internet connection speed in the Kingdom is estimated at 9% compared to 38% in other countries, he elaborated.  

Al-Mutairi attributed the strength of national network to the huge investments, exceeding SR 15 billion, in the telecommunication sector, particularly during the past three years.
He said the authority has introduced new frequencies to expand the network capacity, thus increasing the Internet speed and improving the telecommunication services.

There is a high demand for delivery apps registered with the authority after the authorities imposed a curfew, Al-Mutairi said, adding that the apps doubled from 10 to 2o apps. The authority and commerce ministry have launched an initiative to provide the food stores and pharmacies with a list of registered delivery apps, he said.

He urged everyone to call (1996) for any inquiries or complaints about the delivery apps. 











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