Coronavirus outbreak in Saudi Arabia ranks at high risk: Experts’ COVID-19 map

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A new COVID-19 risk level map ranks the outbreak in Saudi Arabia at a substantially high risk and provides guidelines for government response, which the Kingdom has been largely in line with.

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The map, which was developed by teams at Harvard’s Global Health Institute and Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, determines the severity of an outbreak in a given country based on the number of new daily reported cases.

The coronavirus outbreak in Saudi Arabia ranks at the orange risk level – the second highest risk category – which means it is quickly spreading, data developed by a network of health research experts showed.

The new metrics suggests different responses based on the level that would help effectively contain the outbreak of COVID-19.

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Saudi Arabia has been reporting an average of 11.1 cases for every 100,000 people, according to the data, with experts recommending increased testing, tracing programs, and lockdown measures to contain the outbreak for this risk level.

The Kingdom recently lifted the nationwide curfew but has continued to enforce strict measures and conduct thousands of COVID-19 tests daily.

The contact tracing app Tawakkalna was also developed to help prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

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The different risk levels and the recommended responses for each are as follows.

Green risk level: Canada, China, Italy, others

Countries that report less than one case per every 100,000 people are on the green risk level and are on track for containment, according to the experts. Countries with this level of risk include Canada, China, Algeria, Spain, and Italy.

To ensure that the number of infections does not rise, countries at the green level must monitor cases with viral testing and contact tracing programs, they said.

Yellow risk level: UAE, UK, Egypt, others

Governments reporting an average of one to nine cases per every 100,000 people a day fall on the yellow risk level. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the United Kingdom, and Russia all fall within this category.

At the yellow level, community spread – when an individual picks up the virus from a person who has been infected but does not know it – is the most common cause for rising infections.

The experts recommend rigorous testing and test programs to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Orange risk level: Saudi Arabia, US, Brazil, others

If a country reports an average of 10-24 cases a day per every 100,000 people, that country receives an orange risk level. At this stage, the virus is spreading quickly and stay-at-home orders and ramping up testing and tracing programs are advised.

Alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United States, Brazil, and South Africa fall in this category.

Red risk level: Qatar, Bahrain, French Guiana

Countries that report more than 25 cases for every 100,000 people a day are at the red risk level, the most severe stage of the outbreak. There are three countries in the red level category: Qatar, Bahrain, and French Guiana.

A complete lockdown is necessary at this stage to prevent the virus from spreading further, according to the experts.

A unified approach for suppressing the coronavirus, with common metrics so countries can anticipate and get ahead of the virus, is necessary, the Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative Beth Cameron told Global Pandemics.

Globally, there have been 11,074,878 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 525,121 virus-related deaths, according to a tally by John Hopkins University.