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Is Saudi Arabia on threshold of second Corona Wave?

The Saudi Ministry of Health has warned against leniency in precautionary and preventive measures for the emerging coronavirus.The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Preventive Health, Dr. Abdullah Al-Asiri, confirmed that Saudi Arabia, like other countries of the world, is facing virus activity, and it has detected an increase in cases during the past days.

On what was circulated on social media platforms about a proposal by the ministry to impose a curfew, Asiri confirmed in an interview with Al-Akhbariya channel that the Kingdom is still in the first wave, and there is more time to prevent it from happening.

He pointed out that the high cases that were detected during the past days were among the youth, and they did not need to be admitted to hospitals, but he expressed his fear of the development of cases, according to Okaz newspaper.

Asiri noted that complacency and indulgence is one of the most important reasons for the increase in Corona infections during the past days, stressing that the application of preventive measures is the only solution to confront the virus, and that the Corona vaccine needs several weeks and months until its arrival, and it also needs a longer period to provide it to everyone.

China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine is set to be administered to Saudi patients after passing third stage clinical trials, but remains on hold until approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) signed an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 to be distributed to about 7,000 health workers.

The vaccine has passed the third stage of trials at the King Abdullah Center for the National Guard.

“So far there have been no health complications or allergic reactions in those who have tried the vaccine, except for a fever or mild migraine, but that is normal when vaccination is administered with any virus,” said Aref Al-Amri, head of the Department of Biomolecules and Cytogenetics at the regional laboratory in Riyadh.

KAIMRC’s vaccine unit was among 10 global bodies chosen to test and evaluate several vaccines as part of an international alliance by the World Health Organization, CEPI and NIBSC.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported 20 new COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, raising the death toll to 5,383. There were 398 new cases reported in the Kingdom, meaning 346,880 people have contracted the disease. There are 8,088 active cases, 766 of which are in critical condition.

According to the Health Ministry, 53 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, while Makkah recorded 32 and Jeddah 37. The ministry also announced that 404 more patients had recovered from the virus, bringing total recoveries in the Kingdom to 333,409.

There were 56,255 polymerase chain reaction tests conducted in the past day, bringing total test numbers to more than 8 million.

Saudi Arabia announced 15 deaths from COVID-19 and 435 new infections on Thursday.

Of the new cases, 47 were recorded in Madinah, 46 in Makkah, 46 in Riyadh, 33 in Yanbu, 11 in Dammam and 10 in Jeddah.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 333,005 after 455 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 5,363 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region crossed 2,533,514 on 26 October, according to Worldometers data collated by MEED.

Countries in the GCC comprise 36.2 per cent (915,990) of all cases, while Iran makes up 22.5 per cent (568,896) of the total.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj & Umrah laid out the guidelines for receiving pilgrims from outside the kingdom, which will be permitted from 1 November as part of its phased resumption of Umrah services.

Pilgrims aged 18-50 years will be permitted and they must provide a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) examination certificate with a negative result received within 72 hours before the time of departure to the kingdom. Pilgrims must also have a prior reservation to perform Umrah and prayers in the Grand Mosque and to visit other holy sites.

The kingdom had suspended all Umrah pilgrimages in March to curb the spread of Covid-19, with phase 1 of the Ministry of Hajj & Umrah’s four-stage resumption plan allowing local citizens and residents to return from 4 October.

Wider Mena-region countries collectively account for 1.05 million of the total 2.53 million cases.

Among these is Algeria, which has confirmed 56,143 Covid-19 cases to date, with 39,095 recoveries and 1,914 deaths.

On 25 October, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad urged greater compliance and vigilance among citizens “after consulting the scientific committee and the health authority and assessing the health situation across the national territory”.

He warned of the perils of a second wave, adding: “Many countries are in the process of strengthening preventive actions and hardening restrictive measures on the mobility of people and activities likely to increase the risk of contagion.”