Saudi Arabia easing coronavirus lockdowns doesn’t mean danger has passed: Minister
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah said that the partial lifting of the coronavirus lockdown and easing of curfew was done based on what the indicators reported by the relevant authorities which indicated that citizens and residents were adhering to social distancing and the government’s precautionary measures.
Al-Rabiah added that active screening in a number of neighborhoods where high rates of infection were detected helped in identifying the patterns of virus spread and the locations of several cases. That allowed health officials to treat infected patients and contain the spread of COVID-19 in various areas.
The authorities have conducted more than 2,000 inspection and screening visits in targeted areas.
The minister said the partial lifting of the lockdown doesn’t translate to the danger having passed, stressing that the coronavirus dangers are still very real and very relevant as the COVID-19 virus remains in all areas of the Kingdom, posing a risk to the entire nation, and is more dangerous to those above 65 years of age, patients with chronic diseases, and people suffering from respiratory difficulties related to smoking or obesity.
“I remind everyone that we are all responsible. Every person leaving their house must wear a mask to contain the spread of infection. The mask can be anything available, either a (medical) mask or a piece of cloth covering the nose and mouth,” he said.
Saudi Arabia partially lifted the curfew restrictions it imposed across the Kingdom starting on Sunday while maintaining a full lockdown on Mecca and previously isolated neighborhoods.
The public is now allowed to move between the times of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. everyday until May 13, the 20th of the Holy month of Ramadan.
Saudi Arabia had initially imposed on April 6 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.
Citizens and residents in the Kingdom were allowed to leave their homes during the time period from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily during the 24-hour curfew these past several weeks. They were also only allowed to go out for essential needs such as buying foodstuff and seeking medical attention, and were required to stay within their residential neighborhood areas.