Saudi Arabia is sending extra medical oxygen and tankers to India as part of a larger aid package for the country to combat the world’s biggest outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Saudi Arabia supplied 80 tones of liquid oxygen to India, and three additional containers with 60 tones of oxygen are on their way, along with another 100 barrels to distribute them.
Oil Minister Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan expressed his appreciation to Saudi Arabia aid through a tweet “Deeply appreciate HRH Prince Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for offering to send 3 ISO Containers with 60 tons of LMO to Mumbai on June 6, 2021, and also to provide 100 ISO containers in the coming months to support #IndiaFightsCorona”.
Pradhan also reviewed the delivery of medical oxygen and containers with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz, UAE Minister of Industry Sultan Al Jaber, and Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al- Kaabi.
In this context, Pradhan tweeted that “The 3 containers and the additional containers that will come in the weeks ahead will remain with @IndianOilcl for 6 months as a goodwill gesture from the Saudi Government, and IOCL will source LMO from Linde Dammam on commercial terms for import into the country”.
He further stated that his discussion with HRH Prince Abdulaziz, as well as his unwavering support for India’s attempts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, had been fruitful and is indeed a representation of the profound friendship and familial ties between the two countries.
India has thanked Saudi Arabia for sending 60 tons of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to help the country’s fight against coronavirus. (@dpradhanbjp)
Saudi Arabia shipped 80 tons of LMO to India in April to help alleviate a critical shortage of the emergency gas
Pradhan praised the Kingdom’s support for India’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic
LONDON: India has thanked Saudi Arabia for sending 60 tons of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to help the country’s fight against coronavirus.
Three shipping containers carrying 60 tons of liquid medical oxygen are expected to arrive in Mumbai on June 6, and a further 100 containers are expected over the coming months, India’s Minister of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted.
“This gesture of Saudi Arabia is reflective of the close friendship and warmth between the leadership of Saudi Arabia” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pradhan said.
The initial three containers and the additional containers that are expected to arrive later “will remain with the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL) for six months as a goodwill gesture from the Saudi Government,” the minister said.
“IOCL will source LMO from Linde Dammam on commercial terms for import into the country,” he added.
Pradhan praised the Kingdom’s support for India’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic and said it “is a manifestation of our deep friendship and familial relations which ultimately forms the core of all our interactions.”
India, the world’s second most-populous country, this month has recorded its highest COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic began last year.
Only about 3 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate among the 10 countries with the most cases.
However, it reported its lowest daily rise in 45 days on Saturday with 173,790 new coronavirus infections during the previous 24 hours.
Saudi Arabia shipped 80 tons of LMO to India in April to help alleviate a critical shortage of the emergency gas.
The western region’s first vaccine center is serving 700 beneficiaries a day and operating from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Supplied)
Eastern Province to begin inoculations with the opening of first vaccine center in the region
JEDDAH: The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has fallen by 96.9 percent since a mid-June peak of 4,919, a clear sign that the Kingdom is in control of the outbreak, according to a Health Ministry spokesman.
The past six months have shown a steady decline, with Saudi Arabia recording 154 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.
The number of patients in critical care units has also fallen by 83.1 percent since reaching its peak during the summer, while deaths have also decreased by 84.5 percent.
Though overall numbers have seen a significant decline in recent weeks, the ministry’s spokesman, Dr. Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that numbers in some areas have been fluctuating in the past two weeks, with half the Kingdom’s regions seeing a 50 percent rise, most notably in the Eastern Province, Qassim, Hail and Jazan, Northern Borders and Baha regions.
“The fluctuating numbers are not indicators that (the spread) is out of control,” Al-Aly said. “On the contrary, some areas have shown significant declines and any slight increase will make a difference.”
He said that the coronavirus vaccine being distributed in Saudi Arabia will be effective against the mutations now being detected in some areas of the world.
The Kingdom is joining the global community in monitoring the changes around the clock in order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
362k The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 362,220.
“More than 700,000 people in high-risk groups have registered for the vaccine so far,” Al-Aly said.
“The number of registrations is increasing. This is a positive indicator that the community’s awareness level is high and people are playing a responsible role in ensuring the safety of the community.”
Vaccine clinics are set to open in Dammam as Saudi Arabia’s nationwide vaccine program rolls out.
With Sunday’s numbers, 362,220 people have been infected with the virus since March 2, 2020.
There are currently 2,856 active cases, 391 of which are in critical care units.
The Kingdom’s regions are again recording numbers below the 50 case mark, with Riyadh leading with 42 cases, Makkah with 33, Eastern Province with 17, Madinah with 16, and Asir region with 12.
A total of 175 new recoveries were also reported, raising the overall number to 353,179. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is currently 97.5 percent.
Nine new fatalities were reported, raising the death toll from complications due to the COVID-19 infection to 6,185.
More than 10.87 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
A Saudi nurse checks a patient’s temperature at a mobile clinic catering for the residents of Ajyad Almasafi district in the holy city of Mecca. (AFP)
Saudi researcher discovers low-cost early detection method for COVID-19
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s commitment to global research on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spans several fields, with one receiving a US patent and trademark for early detection methods.
According to Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia was ranked first in the Arab world and 17th globally for Saudi universities’ efforts to publish research on COVID-19, accounting for 1.8 percent of global research production.
Drawn from the Kingdom’s MERS experience, a number of COVID-19-related scientific findings and publications were readied and published in record time.
An innovative COVID-19 detection and diagnostic method by one Saudi researcher was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The method uses a low-cost technology and produces results in record time, without using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis.
Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Hani Abdullah Al-Hadrami, a consultant and associate professor of molecular diagnostics and medical biotechnology at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, explained that the idea behind his innovation focuses on the development of an economical, sensitive and rapid diagnostic platform for the detection of COVID-19.
“The novel platform is a simple diagnostic sensor that can be used by unskilled personnel, such as nurses in the field, or that can be employed in a physician’s office,” Al-Hadrami said. Explaining the method, he said that the sample is directly applied to a sensing platform without the use of any processing equipment and is low in cost, compared to PCR analysis. This technology replaces the need for specialized laboratories and devices to detect COVID-19. It can also be carried to public places where tests and results can be ready in a few minutes.
An innovative COVID-19 detection and diagnostic method by one Saudi researcher was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The method uses a low-cost technology and produces results in record time, without using PCR analysis.
“The technology requires neither medical experts nor specialized laboratories to operate it. It is easy to use in airports, for example, to examine pilgrims who come to visit Makkah and Madinah before they can reach the holy sites. It would be useful during Hajj and in any public places where people normally gather in large numbers,” he added. “We have identified and validated a probe, which is specific for COVID-19 and which will be integrated with conventional and commercially available fluorometers to be used as a screening assay to make it durable and portable so it can be carried in hospital emergency rooms and clinics.”
Al-Hadrami pointed out that the proposed platform will offer a low-detection limit that will meet the infectious dose and eliminate laborious lab-processing techniques.
“It will encourage the development of new technology that provides low-cost, in-situ testing to facilitate treatment, both saving time and enabling the correct action to be taken with minimal interventions,” he said.
Al-Hadrami noted that this integrated approach will result in cost-efficient, rapid and accurate detection of COVID-19 with immediate, targeted treatment, eliminating the need for any sample processing.
“This innovation will show the whole world that Saudis, like any other scientists in developed countries, have contributed to finding innovative solutions for the detection and diagnosis of COVID-19,” he said.
“This will greatly help in controlling the virus and preventing its spread by identifying infected people. When manufactured and produced, this technology will make a great return on the local national economy as it is exported to countries across the world,” he said in a tweet.
Muslim pilgrims wearing protective face masks arrive to circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque during the annual Haj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 29, 2020. (Reuters)
It hopes the vaccines would cover 70 percent of the Kingdom’s population by the end of 2021
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health is aiming to offer free vaccines to 70 percent of citizens and expats in the Kingdom who have not yet contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Officials are hoping to have met the target for inoculations by the end of next year.
“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr. Abdullah Asiri, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for preventive health.
However, under-16s are not to be vaccinated unless research or tests prove there to be a need, he added.
He noted that the Kingdom planned to announce a clear schedule of vaccinations arrival to the country in the coming weeks.
“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organization, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing.
“Saudi Arabia will obtain a large amount of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is direct contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Asiri said.
COVAX is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries around the world with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines once they are licensed and approved.
Asiri pointed out that obtaining effective vaccines required a long preparation plan and supply chain, and time for the vaccine to arrive in large enough quantities to the countries requiring it.
The Kingdom plans to announce a clear schedule of vaccine arrival in the coming weeks.
“Therefore, what will be released this year is not expected to be in the large quantities that would affect the pandemic’s trajectory, which isn’t expected before mid-2021,” he added.
Assistant to the minister of health and official spokesman, Dr. Muhammad Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that the ministry would only provide COVID-19 vaccines that were effective against the virus, had no side effects, and were approved by the authorities concerned with granting licenses.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia recorded 19 new COVID-19-related deaths on Monday taking to 5,796 the total number of people in the country who had now died after contracting the virus.
There were 231 new cases reported in the Kingdom, putting the total so far at 355,489. Officials said 5,877 cases were still active, of which 765 patients were in a serious or critical condition.
According to the Ministry of Health, 46 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 18 in Makkah and Jeddah, and 11 in Madinah.
In addition, 445 patients had recovered from COVID-19, moving the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom up to 343,816.
Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 9,295,599 polymerase chain reaction tests, with 40,395 carried out in the last 24 hours.
RAMALLAH, PALESTINE: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) recently handed over its third batch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 support for Palestine; the aid was presented to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the presence of the Health Minister of the State of Palestine, Dr. Mai Al Kaila.
This third batch of aid included ventilators, ICU beds, operating tables and patient monitoring systems. These items will help to equip Palestinian hospitals and health centers specialized in treating COVID-19, particularly in areas that are short of supplies and need more support to improve their health situations.
This aid is being provided according to directives from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and HRH the Crown Prince for KSrelief to provide urgent assistance to vulnerable countries to help them combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saudi Arabia managed to keep the enemy from its soil for two months, buying precious time to build up its defenses. (AFP)
From its peak in June, Saudi Arabia’s daily new cases have dropped below 500
LONDON: At the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, June 17 passed unremarked on, as just another day in Saudi Arabia’s hard-fought battle against the worst public health crisis the country has ever seen.
In future, however, June 17 might be seen as an appropriate date for the people of Saudi Arabia to remember their nation’s epic battle against the microscopic enemy that brought the world to its knees — for that was the day the number of daily new cases in the Kingdom peaked.
At the time, the day’s tally of 4,919 cases seemed daunting. In fact, the tide of battle had turned in favor of the Kingdom. After that, slowly but steadily the number began to drop. From its first case on March 2, Saudi Arabia had broken the back of the pandemic in just 107 days.
COVID-19 emerged in China in early January, spreading rapidly around the world, but Saudi Arabia managed to keep the enemy from its soil for two months, buying precious time to build up its defences.
“We were luckier than many other countries because our cases started a little bit later,” said Dr. Hani Jokhdar, deputy minister for public health, speaking in August at the Riyadh Global Digital Health Summit. “This gave us a small opportunity to develop our systems, watching and observing what was happening in the rest of the world.”
Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries in the world to set up laboratories to test for the coronavirus, with tests available for anyone with symptoms from March 5 onward. Over the next five months more than five million would be carried out.
‘We witness the fruits of our labor today.’
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly
In February, travel to and from infected countries was quickly curtailed, culminating in a ban on all international flights by March 15. Restrictions on internal travel followed shortly after.
And on Feb. 27, Saudi Arabia took the unprecedented but necessary step of suspending Umrah visas for foreign pilgrims. The Kingdom would also take the lead in closing mosques.
Saudi Arabia’s defences were finally breached on March 2, thanks to two citizens who had returned home infected from Bahrain, neglecting to mention that their journeys had begun in Iran, a country already in the grip of the disease.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia, the last of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states to be hit by the virus, was better prepared than many countries for what was coming. A raft of apps — some established, others developed quickly in the face of the new disease — allowed citizens and residents to report symptoms, book virtual appointments and access testing.
Such technology would also play a vital role in the management of Hajj. As the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, from the outset Saudi Arabia was keenly aware of the consequences for itself, the region and the entire planet if it failed to manage the pilgrimage effectively.
This year the decision was taken to limit numbers to a symbolic 1,000, selected from nationals and foreigners already in the country. Careful screening, monitoring and meticulous management ensured that, in this remarkable year, Hajj passed off without a single case of COVID-19.
Throughout, Saudi Arabia’s battle against the virus has been led from the very top. On March 19, King Salman addressed the nation on television. The Kingdom, he said, “continues to take all precautionary measures to confront this pandemic and limit its effects. We depend on the aid of God Almighty, then on deploying our full capabilities, supported by your strong determination to face adversity with the steadfastness of believers at the forefront.”
Saudi Arabia launches a public information campaign on Jan. 28, holds the first meeting of the COVID-19 Follow-Up Committee on Feb. 1, and bans travel to China on Feb. 6.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor the world is out of the woods yet. But as the global daily tally of cases continues to rise, hitting a record high of over 316,000 on Sept. 11, for a total of 31.2 million cases and 965,372 deaths, so Saudi Arabia’s daily caseload continues to shrink, even as restrictions have been relaxed and life in the country has begun to return to normal.
On Sunday, the number of daily new cases dropped below 500 for the first time in five months. As Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said: “We witness the fruits of our labor today.” The “huge improvement,” he added, was thanks to “everyone’s efforts.”
Let there be no doubt that, with a total of 329,271 cases and 4,458 deaths recorded by Sunday, Saudi Arabia has suffered in 2020.
But one has only to look at how badly many other states have fared — including some of the most powerful and advanced countries in the world — to realize just how much worse this terrible year might have been for the Kingdom, were it not for its preparations and timely and decisive actions.
Many of the more than 6,000 Saudi doctors across 41 countries on medical fellowship programs abroad continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Supplied)
Many of the more than 6,000 Saudi doctors in medical fellowship programs abroad are fighting COVID-19 in 41 countries
MAKKAH: Many of the more than 6,000 Saudi doctors across 41 countries on medical fellowship programs abroad continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, doing their diligent duty to help people across the globe.
These doctors have shown dexterity in combating the coronavirus pandemic alongside colleagues from their host countries. A substantial number of those Saudi doctors refuse to leave despite the dangers, remaining in the countries where they are studying to help their fellow colleagues in the battle.
Dr. Abdullah Boqays, a fellow working as a dermatologist in cancer hospitals in Toulouse, France, told Arab News that 2020 has been a frightening year for many medical care workers.
“Doctors with various specialties have fought competently since the start of the pandemic, especially the ones dealing directly with infected patients, not only while working in hospitals, which make them more vulnerable than others in terms of infection, but also while dealing with patients who suffer from a weakened immune system,” he said.
Dr. Boqays told Arab News that the staff in his department of skin tumor and dermatology have had to deal with a number of follow-ups and consultations with visiting skin cancer patients, many of whom are at advanced stages of the disease or have weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy or immunosuppressants.
Tumor-removal surgeries have continued despite the pandemic, Dr. Baqis said. “The work environment, as well as behavioral and ethical practices, obliges us to continue the treatment, regardless of the reasons and methods used. Delaying chemotherapy drugs, administering immunosuppressants or not performing curative surgeries might have disastrous consequences on the patients. We rely on God first, take the necessary precautionary measures to meet the demands of patients, support them and alleviate their pain,” he said.
“Even though we are far from our precious country, we are at peace because our wise government — under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — supports us and cares for Saudis abroad,” Dr. Boqays said
Abdullah Modhayan, a psychiatric resident at the Skane University Hospital in Malmo, has been in Sweden since 2015. “There are more than 50 Saudi doctors on a medical fellowship program in Sweden, working in various medical specialties in different cities, and most of them were on the frontline in the Swedish health system,” he said.
“Some of my colleagues on a medical fellowship program were infected with COVID-19, and quickly returned to their positions to help their colleagues in the Swedish health sector after they’d recovered. It is noteworthy to mention that the work achieved by Saudi doctors in Sweden was and still is appreciated here.”
The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world.
Sweden made headlines for its soft strategy in combatting the pandemic: The government did not close down shops, restaurants or cafés, and did not impose a quarantine for its citizens and residents.
“This decision had major consequences at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden,” Dr. Modhayan said. “The mortality rate was one of the highest in Europe, which was difficult on the health sector and its status amid a real challenge. Saudi doctors played an efficient role in the face of this challenge here.”
During the pandemic, Dr. Modhayan has been working in the psychiatric emergency department. He noted the psychological effect on individuals, most notably on those who lost loved ones to the coronavirus. “Providing psychological support and treatment for those who need it is very important, especially in such difficult circumstances,” he said.
Dr. Abdulghani Khogeer, a nephrologist surgeon (specializing in kidney and urinary tract diseases), has been living in France for the past seven years as part of a Saudi-French fellowship program and has seen firsthand the disastrous effect the pandemic had on France.
“Similar to other countries, France fought the coronavirus vigorously in the beginning, which required suspending non-urgent medical activities. This had a major effect on the workflow, as we followed remote procedures at clinics, canceled non-urgent operations, rescheduled surgeries, canceled clinics and followed other procedures. That required our constant presence and readiness to help in departments combating the virus such as the emergency department, performing many necessary surgeries during that time.”
Dr. Khogeer is grateful to the Kingdom’s embassy for its support and constant communication during this critical period. “I pray to God to protect us and help us return to our country safely, in order to serve it with all our learning and knowledge,” he said.
During a virtual meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, announced the Kingdom’s donation of US$100 million to support the International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic. (Twitter/@ksamissionun)
Kingdom’s donation will support UN’s International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic
Guterres thanked Saudi Arabia for its generous and continuous support to UN
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said Friday it was donating $100 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and toward a number of projects in support of a United Nations response plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement was made by the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, during a virtual event with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic, the WHO and other UN agencies will benefit from this Saudi donation,” Al-Mouallimi tweeted following the meeting.
Earlier, Al-Mouallimi said that “this support comes within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s international efforts in support of the response to combating the coronavirus, and awareness of the importance of cooperation, solidarity and collective and international action to foster a transparent, robust, coordinated and wide-ranging global response.”
He said the Kingdom was carrying out “the role it has been entrusted with toward multilateralism, collective and international action in order to confront the COVID-19 pandemic,” adding that Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries “to extend a hand of aid and coordination” with countries affected by the spread of the virus.
Al-Mouallimi said that the Kingdom is working to enable the UN to lead international action to intensify global efforts to combat coronavirus, and to enhance support for developing countries and the most vulnerable regions in fighting this pandemic.
In particular, he mentioned assisting refugees, raising the standards of living among the world’s poorest groups, developing fragile economies, mediating an end to conflicts, and building more harmonious relationships between nations.
Guterres thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Kingdom’s generous and continuous support to the organization, saying that Saudi Arabia worked in partnership with the UN to support security, stability and prosperity in all parts of the world, especially in Yemen.
Flood water fills a ditch in the ancient royal city at the archaeological site of Meroe, in the Sudanese al-Bajrawia area in the River Nile State, 200Km north of the capital, on September 9, 2020. – The ancient complex of Meroe, capital of the powerful Meroitic Empire lasting from 350 BCE to 350 CE, extends over 1500 Km in the Nile valley. It is composed of the necropolis of Kushite royalty with its renowned pyramids, as well as the royal city which hosted palaces, temples and administration, and that was threatened by the severe flooding of the Nile river that induced a country-wide state of emergency. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)
KSRelief sends planes filled with aid to Sudan
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has sent planes to Sudan filled with aid, including equipment to provide shelter, as well as medical and food supplies for affected regions and provinces hit by the recent flooding.
In addition, the Kingdom continued its support to Sudan to face the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by sending a plane carrying 105 tons of medical supplies.
Dr Afaf Al-Nahas, Director General of the National Fund for Medical Supplies in Sudan, praised the Kingdom’s initiatives and its enthusiasm to share the Sudanese society concerns, and participate in its programs.
In addition, she praised the efforts of Saudi Arabia and its continued support to Sudan and its people, assuring that the shipment of medicines offered by the Kingdom is currently the best support to the Sudanese Ministry of Health, in order to continue fighting the pandemic in the Capital and in various provinces.
Finally, she expressed her thanks to King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy prime minister and defense minister, for their continuous efforts to help humanity around the globe, in line with the Kingdom’s tradition in helping humans with no exceptions.
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