Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia records 1,289 new cases, highest daily increase so far

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Saudi Arabia recorded 1,289 new coronavirus cases, marking its highest daily increase so far, according to the health ministry.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

The Kingdom also confirmed five new deaths, raising the death toll to 144. Meanwhile, 174 people recovered over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 2,531.

Saudi Arabia saw a spike in cases when the health ministry began its field-testing efforts nearly two weeks ago, targeting suspected infection cluster areas. Since then, there has been a steady increase in daily cases. The spokesman said around 1 million people have been screened so far in various neighborhoods throughout the Kingdom. The ministry has confirmed a total of 18,811 cases since the virus hit the country.

Saudi Arabia signs $265 million China deal to expand Kingdom's testing capacity

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

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

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

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.

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.

Saudi Arabia relaxes restrictions

Even though Saudi Arabia has relaxed some restrictions and curfews with the start of the Muslim holy month Ramadan, authorities continue to urge people to only go out when necessary, and to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and to avoid crowds while in public.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia initially imposed a 24-hour curfew and lockdown on the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf and throughout the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar on April 6.

Citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia were only allowed to leave their homes only for essential needs like food and health care and stay within their residential neighborhood from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily during the 24-hour curfew over the past several weeks.

Late last week, authorities in the Kingdom slightly revised its coronavirus curfew timings for the month of Ramadan allowing residents to go out for necessary needs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Read more:

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