Saudi Arabia tests more than 150,000 people for coronavirus

JEDDAH – (WARSOOR) – More than 150,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, as a Ministry of Health spokesman Tuesday stressed the importance of getting information about the disease from reliable sources.

The tests were being carried out by experts who were working “day and night” to treat those suspected of infection as early as possible and to take all necessary measures to care for them, the ministry’s spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“These levels of advanced and accurate laboratory tests are what makes the Kingdom one of the countries that actively and intensely undertakes measures to detect cases early, and thus monitor and treat them at the earliest (opportunity) and prevent society from spreading it.”

A total of 435 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kingdom on Tuesday, bringing the total number to 5,369 cases, including 4,407 active cases. Of these, 62 are in critical condition or ICU.

Al-Aly said there were 84 new recoveries, taking the total number of recoveries to 889. The death toll rose by eight to 73.

The spokesman used the regular briefing to address rumors about coronavirus, including who could contract it, how and when.

He denied that the disease only affected the elderly. “Children, the young and the elderly are all susceptible to the disease, all age groups can be affected by the virus.”

Cases in the Kingdom had been recorded in children less than a year old and in seniors above 90, he said. 

“Globally, there are cases recorded in the very first few hours or two days of an infant’s life. All age groups must take all the precautionary measures as it affects all.”

He also addressed whether or not the virus was more contagious in winter, and if cases would drop in the summer.

“There is no confirmed reliable scientific evidence that proves this or if that the virus is seasonal,” he said. “It is still a new virus and it has not experienced different seasons and climates for us to confirm this piece of information.”

He said there were no findings that proved domestic animals and mosquitoes could transmit the disease but that they were known to spread other diseases, especially parasites.

The latest fatalities were expats – four in Madinah, three in Makkah and one in Jeddah. Most had underlying chronic health conditions, and they were aged between 41 and 71.

A committee led by the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs has been set up to look after the housing conditions of expat workers. It has acted to curb the spread of the virus, including launching an online portal to build a database of housing alternatives for such workers.

The committee said there were nearly 1,000 properties that could accommodate 250,000 residents with 60,000 rooms.

It also activated a hotline number – 940 – for those who had a complaint or wanted to report housing violations.