|25 March, 2020

Saudi ministry warns against ‘even small gatherings’

Ministry of Health spokesman urged people to stay indoors for as long as possible to help the Kingdom’s efforts to slow the spread of the killer COVID-19

A man uses his mobile phone at an empty cafe, following the outbreak of coronavirus, as per Saudi government ban to close all cafes and restaurants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2020.

A man uses his mobile phone at an empty cafe, following the outbreak of coronavirus, as per Saudi government ban to close all cafes and restaurants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2020.

REUTERS/ Ahmed Yosri

JEDDAH: Saudi health authorities on Tuesday urged citizens to avoid “even small gatherings” which could prove “very dangerous” in spreading the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The warning came as the Kingdom reported its first death from the virus — a 51-year-old Afghan resident in Madinah – and 205 new cases of infection, the biggest single daily jump since the start of the outbreak.

Ministry of Health spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, urged people to stay indoors for as long as possible to help the Kingdom’s efforts to slow the spread of the killer COVID-19.

“We urge everyone to stay away from gatherings, whether these gatherings are of a limited number or not. Of course, gathering in larger numbers is undoubtedly very dangerous, but even in limited numbers inside houses or outside homes is very dangerous and we warn everyone of gatherings,” he said.

Speaking at a daily press conference on the health crisis, Al-Aly pointed out that the number of reported cases of infection around the world was still rising, as were deaths.

Of the 205 newly registered cases in Saudi Arabia, more than half (119) had been linked to travel and people coming into the country from abroad, he said, adding that all the individuals were in isolation.

“This fact gives importance of early precautionary steps to isolate cases healthily since their entry to Saudi Arabia, and thus the emergence of these cases, is proactively controlled and monitored,” said Al-Aly.

Officials revealed a cities breakdown of new and announced cases in the Kingdom showing Jeddah the highest with 82, Riyadh (69), Al-Baha (12), Bisha (8), Najran (8), Abha (6), Dammam (6), Qatif (6), Jazan (3), Alkhobar (2), Dhahran (2) and Madinah (1).

FASTFACTS

• 205 new cases reported in the Kingdom on Tuesday.

• Of the 767 cases, most patients are stable.

• Nine more patients had recovered taking the total to 28.

“The total number confirmed in Saudi Arabia, from the beginning of case registration, is 767,” the ministry spokesman added. “Most cases are stable and reassuring. They are receiving appropriate health care in accordance with standards and treatment guides, and three cases among them are critical with one death.”

The Afghan man who died had applied for health care at an emergency department, but his condition was already at an advanced and critical stage. “His health deteriorated rapidly, and he died last night,” said Al-Aly.

However, nine more patients had recovered from the COVID-19 infection taking the total to 28.

He urged people to observe personal hygiene, such as frequently washing their hands, to stay at home for as long as possible, not to attend any meetings or gatherings, and to keep away from anyone in health isolation for at least 14 days.

Citizens experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call 937, use a medical app such as Sehha, or contact their nearest health center or hospital.

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