MOH News

COVID-19 Monitoring Committee Reviews Local and Global Updates
23 April 2020

​​On Thursday morning, the COVID-19 Monitoring Committee held its 64th meeting. Chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr. Tawfiq 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. Meanwhile, the Committee commended the citizens’ compliance with the curfew, and called on them to stay home, and refrain from going unless absolutely necessary.

The meeting was followed by a joint press conference, the participants in which included Dr. Muhammad Al-Abdulaali, MOH spokesman, Mr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Hussein, Ministry of Commerce (MOC) spokesman, and Mr. Hammoud Al-Harbi, General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) spokesman. The MOH spokesman mentioned that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide has jumped to 2,600,000 cases, of which 719,000 cases have recovered to date. As for the COVID-19 death toll, it has jumped to 184,000.

As for the epidemiological situation in the Kingdom, he mentioned that 1,158 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported, including 845 cases detected through active surveillance, accounting for 73% of the cases. Those newly reported cases were detected in several KSA cities, as follows: 293 cases in Madinah, 209 in Makkah, 208 in Jeddah, 157 in Riyadh, 78 in Hofuf, 43 in Dammam, 40 in Al-Jubail, 32 in Taif, 28 in Al-Khobar, 13 in Unayzah, 11 in Bukayriah, 10 in Tabuk, 9 in Hail, 5 in Rabegh, 5 in Al-Huda, 4 in Yanbu, and 1 case in Abha, Arar, Al-Baha, Al-Mandaq, Al-Dhahran, Al-Qatif, Hafr Al-Batin, Al-Aqiq, Al-Khormah, Al-Dariyah, Najran, Umm Al-Doum and Wadi Al-Fara’. 

This brings the total COVID-19 cases in the Kingdom to 13,930 cases, including 11,884 active cases, receiving the medical care they may be in need of. Of these, there are 93 critical cases, whereas the health condition of the rest is stable. Of the newly reported 1,158 cases, Al-Abdulaali noted, there are 169 Saudi citizens, including 87 males and 82 females, collectively representing 15% of the cases. On the other hand, the non-Saudi residents made up 85% of cases: 874 males and 115 females. The number of new recoveries has amounted to 113, bringing the total recoveries to date to 1925. And 7 new deaths were reported, bringing the total deaths to 121. The new deaths include one 69-year-old Saudi woman, and 6 non-Saudi residents in Makkah and Jeddah, aged 23 - 67 years old. They mostly suffered from chronic diseases.

Al-Abdulaali reiterated that the Saudi patients made up 15% of the today’s cases, whereas non-Saudis accounted for 85%. More cases are expected as the active surveillance continues, he said. Meanwhile, he called on everyone to adhere to the tips and guidelines MOH has, and still providing. The most notable of these are: social distancing, refraining from handshaking, and washing hands regularly. Such guidelines are especially advisable for people with chronic diseases. He called on 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, the MOC spokesman, Abdul-Rahman Al-Hussein, announced that the rationing plan for Ramadan has been completed and that an abundance of Ramadan commodities will be achieved. All needs and requirements of consumers will be met, supported by price stability and high quality.

Ramadan’s plan started six months ago, he said. Its most prominent aspects include making sure commodities are abundant at sales outlets and storehouses and prices are stable. Also, the plan ensures that the work of supply chains continues normally. Other aspects include making sure there is a smooth flow of goods and products to sale outlets and ensuring the readiness of supermarkets to properly serve consumers. Al-Hussein pointed out that this abundance was achieved in one month through 89,000 control rounds in various regions of the Kingdom. 

According to Al-Hussein, the rounds included wholesale markets, hypermarkets, supply outlets, and vegetable; fruit; meat; poultry; and fish stores, in addition to bakeries, and other kinds of stores. He stressed that basic commodities such as wheat and rice will still arrive in large quantities. This is also the case with livestock, citrus fruits (oranges and lemons), and egg products after opening the door for importation.

“We have worked to proactively monitor the prices of Ramadan commodities and foods which see a greater demand at this time of year. We use an electronic monitoring program. We analyze and study the results daily to enhance consumer protection efforts and properly meet consumers’ needs and requirements,” Al-Hussein added.

On the other hand, MOC addresses the increasing prices of some commodities and products during the COVID-19 crisis. It inspects the reasons for the increase and compares them to global prices. It also follows supply chains and takes measures if any violations were found. “I encourage everyone to consume goods in moderation. Studies show that the rate of food waste has ranged between 30% and 40% over the past few years. This is an opportunity to rationalize our consumption,” he noted. 

Expressing his appreciation for the cooperative spirit shown by consumers, Al-Hussein pointed out that they can report any commercial violations they come across to the reports center on phone number 1900 or through communicating with MOC via the “Commercial Report” smartphone application. He added that MOC will continue its control efforts for another month. Noteworthy, since the curfew was imposed on March 23rd, over 8,800 violations by sales outlets were detected. 4,250 of these violations were overpricing. They accounted for 48% of the total violations. The violators were instantly fined. 

MOC will also continue its efforts to serve the private sector. “In one month, we were able to offer over 108,000 services to the business sector. Our efforts will continue to combat commercial fraud and strictly address price manipulations,” he added. MOC has recently seized more than 170 tons of foodstuffs (specifically onions, tomatoes, flour, eggs, and fruits). They were stored to be sold later at a higher price. The seized amount was re-pumped into the market to be sold at a fair price. Additionally, more than 19 million face masks and sanitizers were seized. The products that fit standard specifications were returned to the market, while the rest were legally disposed of. 

Al-Hussein urged consumers to consume products in moderation and avoid buying unnecessary products to give others the chance to find the commodities they need. He also advised against spreading rumors and noted that official sources are the only credible sources. Al-Hussein also highlighted the government’s support to the private sector, as SAR 170 billion were allocated for supporting and stimulating it. 

He praised the great sense of responsibility businessmen feel and their social role in supporting MOH's Health Endowment Fund with over SAR 1 billion. This support came in the form of cash and in-kind contributions. They have also started over 430 qualitative initiatives through the “Our Merchants are Good” initiative with the help of the Council of Saudi Chambers. The initiatives included allocating facilities and buildings for MOH, rent exemptions, financial contributions, medical services, and more.

The MOC spokesman stated that the National Misprision Control Program will require all ration suppliers and grocery shops to provide online payments starting from Sunday, May 10th until August 2020. He also warned against dealing with anonymous accounts online and advised consumers to limit their purchasing only to accounts with a commercial register or a verified certificate. Throughout two months, complaints made about electronic stores amounted to 30,000. The most common complaint was about delays in delivering orders.

For his part, Hamoud Al-Harbi, GAZT spokesman, revealed the authority's efforts towards the private sector in terms of lessening the severity of the economic and financial impacts. The Authority has launched 15 initiatives where it aimed to assist the private sector in having cash liquidity. This would help the sector manage its business. These initiatives included postponing the tax declaration and payment of Zakat. The Authority has also postponed the payment of the income, withholding, value-added and selective goods taxes. It has also postponed the payment of VAT at customs for all registered taxpayers for this tax. The Authority has also postponed the payment of the selective goods tax for the importers of these goods.

Moreover, Al-Harbi added, the Authority has suspended the fines imposed on the late payments of installments, tax declaration amendments, and non-cooperation. Additionally, payers of Zakat were granted the 2019 Zakat certificates without restrictions. The Authority has also held off the procedures to halt the services of taxpayers who have previously had their services suspended, in addition to postponing the seizure of their funds. Payment for refund requests was also accelerated.

Al-Harbi explained that some initiatives depend on voluntary disclosure and commitment. Anyone who was required to register at the General Authority of Zakat and has not done that over the past period then attempted to do it within the framework of the of this initiative shall benefit from the late registration fine cancellation. Taxpayers will also have the fines for late payment and late submission canceled. Furthermore, anyone who is registered and attempts to submit his late declarations at this time will benefit from the abolition of the fines for late payment, declaration amendment, and late submission. They can also apply for the installments initiative without having to make a down payment. 

Al-Harbi went on to explain that these initiatives have benefited a large number of people. For example, the initiative to postpone the payment and declaration of Zakat has benefited over 637,000 taxpayers. As for the initiative to grant taxpayers the 2019 Zakat Certificates, it has benefited over 534,000 taxpayers. While the initiative to postpone VAT declarations and payments benefited over 228 taxpayers. The initiative to postpone VAT payments at customs benefited 213,000 taxpayers. Accelerating the payment of refunds has also benefited more than 9,000 taxpayers. Postponing payment and declaration submissions has benefited over 5,000 taxpayers. Postponing the payment of selective goods tax at customs has benefited nearly 818 taxpayers. The initiative to postpone declaration submissions and payments of the selective good taxes has benefited 28 taxpayers.

Al-Harbi called upon all taxpayers to make the most of these initiatives. This can happen through communicating with the Authority to help these activities, foundations, and corporations, especially small and medium entities. The support would help them endure the current economic conditions. Taxpayers can also contact the authority on phone number 19993. Moreover, they can look at the guide issued by the Authority. It explains the way to apply for these initiatives and provides a detailed description of them. 

Last Update : 27 April 2020 11:13 PM
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