Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia confirms 2,509 new cases, raising total to 59,854
Saudi Arabia has confirmed 2,509 new coronavirus cases after conducting 16,140 new tests over the past 24 hours, raising the total to 59,854 cases, according to the health ministry.
Health Ministry Spokesman Dr. Mohammed al-Abd al-Ali also announced nine new fatalities, raising the Kingdom’s relatively low death toll to 329.
The health sector's coronavirus treatment protocol, extensive testing and active screenings have helped the Kingdom maintain its relatively low death rate of less than 0.6 percent, Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabiah said earlier this month.
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Meanwhile, an additional 2,886 new recoveries were recorded taking the total to 31,634, according to the spokesman. More than 50 percent of those who became infected in Saudi Arabia have recovered.
Of the newly detected cases, 26 percent are female and 74 percent are male. The spokesman also said 35 percent of the new cases are Saudi nationals while 65 percent are of other nationalities.
Three factors have contributed to the increase in the number of daily new cases, the spokesman explained.
First, a virus outbreak naturally causes an increase in the number of infections then the daily numbers eventually begin to decline, according to al-Abd al-Ali. Second, he said, that the ministry has increased its testing capacity and continues to do so in order to detect as many cases as possible. Over the past month, the ministry has conducted three-times as many screenings as in previous months. The third reason that the spokesman mentioned was individuals are not maintaining social distancing rules and are not abiding with precautionary meansures. These factors have also contributed to the increase in numbers.
Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Dr. Tawfig al-Rabiah has warned that the number of cases in the Kingdom could reach up to 200,000, based on four different studies conducted by Saudi and foreign experts. His lower estimate was 10,000.
The country has the most total confirmed coronavirus cases in the region. However, it is also by far the largest country in the GCC, both in terms of population and area.
The Kingdom confirmed its first cases on March 2 when an infected Saudi Arabian national returned from Iran. Government officials were quick to implement measures including lockdowns, curfew, shutting down domestic and international travel, as well as closing businesses and mosques. Saudi Arabia even suspended prayers in Islam's two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.
Despite easing some restrictions and re-opening malls and businesses under strict measures, family gatherings of more than five people are still banned throughout the country. All gatherings for occasions such as weddings, funerals, parties, and such have also been banned.
The Interior Ministry last week announced there will be a full day lockdown and curfew across the Kingdom during the upcoming Eid holidays from May 23 until May 27.