Saudi hospital operator sees decline in outpatient business amid coronavirus outbreak

People steer clear of clinics, emergency rooms for fear of contracting virus

Image used for illustrative purpose. Nurses work in the emergency department at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in Mecca .

Image used for illustrative purpose. Nurses work in the emergency department at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in Mecca .

REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Saudi Arabia’s Middle East Healthcare Company, which owns Saudi German Hospitals, has experienced a slowdown in its outpatient business stemming from coronavirus restrictions.

The publicly listed company reported on Monday that there has been a decline in footfall at its outpatient department since last month when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic.

The implementation of other precautionary measures, such as curfew and reduced working hours have also contributed to the decline in hospital visits.

“The company network of hospitals witnessed a slowdown in outpatient visits starting March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, decreased number of working hours and imposed curfew by the government across the Kingdom’s different cities,” the firm said in its bourse filing.

Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 9,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 1,300 recoveries and 97 deaths.

The Kingdom has suspended international passenger flights and its year-round umrah pilgrimage, and shut down public places to combat the spread of coronavirus. On Friday, Saudi imposed a 24-hour curfew in two governorates, Al Dayer and Samta.

A growing number of people are steering clear of hospitals due to fears of contracting the coronavirus at emergency rooms, outpatient sections or healthcare facilities.

In the United States, emergency room visits across New York City health and hospital locations dropped by about 50 percent, according to a CNBC report.

At the Middle East Healthcare Company, there aren’t any issues so far in terms of meeting obligations against employees and banks, despite the business slowdown.

However, it shared plans to cut down on outgoings to reduce the financial impact of the pandemic.

“The company is working on reducing its expenses and utilizing the government announce stimulus plans for the private sector while offering new services, such as home visits and teleconsultation, to mitigate the impact of the expected drop in revenue,” the company said.

It added that the current circumstances will be reflected in the company’s financials starting in the second quarter of the year.

“lIt is not yet possible to determine the exact magnitude of the financial impact in light of the current situation and developments, and the absence of a clear timeframe for the precautionary measures period,” said the company.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

#Saudi #Hospitals #Coronavirus #Saudi German Hospitals

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