Warning! Social Gatherings ‘Hotbed’ for COVID-19

Warning! Social Gatherings 'Hotbed' for COVID-19

The Saudi Ministry of Health reiterated its warning on Saturday about the danger of social gatherings, describing them as potential “hotbeds” for coronavirus (COVID-19).

This came during the daily press conference held in Riyadh by the ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, where he announced 48 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom to 392.

Many of the cases were people who had recently traveled, while five cases were recorded among health practitioners and administrators at a health facility in Riyadh, who had not shown any symptoms and were placed in quarantine.

The rest of the cases, Al-Abd Al-Aly said, had contracted the virus through attending social events such as funerals, social gatherings and family meetings.

“This confirms that these unfortunate gatherings may occur due to the lack of commitment and with some leniency in the process of isolation and the application of measures that urge people to stay in their homes and avoid gatherings in all its forms,” he said, describing such gatherings as “a fertile environment for virus transmission.”

Al-Abd Al-Aly said that proactive steps and successful measures taken by the Kingdom to block the virus at Saudi ports and quarantine procedures were “preemptive steps for society — however, leniency in the process of gatherings may lead to other worrying and dangerous hotbeds that may affect people and their families.”

The ministry’s spokesman announced that eight additional cases had recovered, bringing the total of number of recovered cases to 16.

“The 937 call center received more than 280,000 calls for medical consultations and inquiries,” said the spokesman.

He concluded the daily press conference with a message to everyone calling on them to stay in their homes.

“I am sending this message to everyone, not as an official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, but as a doctor, brother, son, father and friend of all: Stay in your homes as much as possible and stay away from gatherings,” he said, adding: “This is the most important recommendation. Lives are being lost because of carelessness and recklessness.”

Saudi Arabia also announced the temporary suspension of all public transportation across the Kingdom to contain the virus.

The measure does not, however, include the transfer of individuals through smart applications, such as Uber and Careem.

Careem said in a statement: “These decisions do not include the transfer of individuals through smart applications, but we appeal to citizens and residents not to go out except for extreme necessities in order to preserve the health and safety of everyone.”

The company added: “In the event that you request delivery services from Careem, please leave a note to deliver the order at the door and pay through the app wallet to ensure that enough distance is left and avoid direct contact, so that we work hand in hand to prevent the spread of the virus.”

In a statement sent to Arab News, Uber said that the only category affected by the decision was UberTaxi.

“As per the latest measures announced by the Ministry of Interior to fight the spread of COVID-19, we are suspending the UberTaxi offering in the Kingdom until further notice. All other options on the Uber app remain available for essential travel and delivery.”

The statement added that the company was “deeply committed to helping flatten the curve in the cities we serve and remain in close contact with local public health authorities.”

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