Saudi ministry of health: 'No sign yet of COVID-19 summer reversal'

The health ministry reported 3,648 new recoveries

A general view of the car market as people gather to buy vehicles before the expected increase of VAT to 15% in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 27, 2020.

A general view of the car market as people gather to buy vehicles before the expected increase of VAT to 15% in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia June 27, 2020.

REUTERS/Mohammed bin Mansour

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health on Tuesday played down suggestions that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic might be reversing during the hot summer weather. Several studies are under way to test the possible effects of sunlight and heat on the virus.

“Temperature levels used in laboratories to study the resilience of the virus differ from the temperatures in the environmental conditions we live in,” said ministry spokesman Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. “Moreover, most of us spend our time in closed places with moderate temperatures.”

He said that the best way for people to protect themselves and their communities from the virus is to continue to follow safety advice and take precautions recommended by the ministry, including social distancing. These remain crucially important to slowing the spread of the disease regardless of the season, he added.

Saudi Arabia has been part of the international effort to combat COVID-19 since the early stages of the outbreak, and a member of global health partnership Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said Al-Abd Al-Aly.

“Efforts to find a vaccine for the disease have not been concluded yet,” he added. “However, the country has bilateral contacts with countries that have opportunities or signs of a vaccine success story.”

He pointed out that the novel coronavirus is considered stable, with no significant differences in disease symptoms or complications based on geographical factors or blood types.

The Kingdom reported 50 new COVID-19-related deaths on Tuesday, raising the total to 1,649. There were 4,387 new confirmed cases, which means 190,823 people have contracted the disease. Of these, 58,408 cases remain active and 2,278 patients are in critical condition.

The Ministry of Health said 980 of the new cases were in Al-Hafuf, 342 in Riyadh and 308 in Dammam.

“The main factor behind the significant increase in numbers in those cities was social gatherings, with a lack of commitment to precautionary measures and social distancing,” said Al-Abd Al-Aly.

Khaled Alabdulkareem, assistant deputy minister for primary health care at the health ministry, said that 174,313 people have visited the 237 Tetamman clinics set up across the Kingdom, where people can go to be tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, or coughing. Of those, 12 percent received COVID-19 treatment, with 3 percent hospitalized.

In addition, 255,497 people have taken a COVID-19 swab test at Taakkad (Make Sure) initiative centers set up by the health ministry throughout the country.

“These tests give us an important idea about the virus prevalence, and so help us detect possible cases at an early stage, break the chain of infection and prevent the formation of hotbeds for the virus,” said Alabdulkareem.

Saudi Arabia has carried out 1,639,314 tests for COVID-19 to date. The ministry also announced that an additional 3,648 patients recovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 130,766.

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