Coronavirus: Saudi signs $265 million China deal to expand Kingdom’s testing capacity

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Saudi Arabia has signed a $265 million deal with China to massively expand the Kingdom’s coronavirus testing capacity, official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.

The deal, which includes providing 9 million COVID-19 tests, was signed following a phone call between Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to SPA.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

China will provide equipment and materials to conduct the 9 million tests, in addition to 500 specialized Chinese experts and technicians to test people in the Kingdom and train Saudi medics.

The Kingdom will establish six large regional labs throughout the country, including a mobile lab with the capacity to test 10,000 people daily, the news agency reported.

The Chinese health teams will ensure the quality of the tests for a period of 8 months in addition to conducting comprehensive field and lab tests with the Saudi health teams.

Experts will analyze the genetic map of several coronavirus samples in the Kingdom. They will also analyze the population’s immunity map through a sample of 1 million people who will have a “significant impact in supporting the nation’s plans in managing the pandemic,” according to SPA.

The Kingdom has also purchased tests from the United States, Switzerland and South Korea in order to reach its testing target of 14.5 million people, 40 percent of the Kingdom's population, SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia has so far confirmed 17,522 coronavirus cases with 2,375 recoveries. The death toll reached 139 as of Sunday, according to the health ministry.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Dr. Tawfig al-Rabiah said the Kingdom's coronavirus cases could reach between 10,000 to 200,000 based on four different studies conducted by Saudi and foreign experts.

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