Coronavirus ‘worst human disaster of recent history,’ Saudi health official says

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The coronavirus pandemic is “the worst human disaster of recent history,” a Saudi Arabian health official said Tuesday.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world, with over 700,000 dead and over 20 million infected. Governments and health authorities around the world have put in place various lockdown, social distancing and travel ban measures in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. These measures have also had knock-on effects causing a deleterious effect on living standards around the world and are in various stages of being lifted.

“I don’t think it is exaggerated to say that this is the worst human disaster of recent history … I believe COVID-19 has brought the importance of public health to the forefront as a critical global health security issue,” said Dr Bandar Alknawy, CEO, Ministry of National Guard-Health Affairs, and President of the King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences.

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Alknawy was speaking on Tuesday during the Riyadh Global Digital Health Summit (RGDHS), of which he is also president. The event, held on August 11-12 brought global leaders in healthcare together from across the world to discuss how digital health technology could aid in the fight against COVID-19.

“At this age of continuous connection and digitization, COVID-19 has opened up new opportunities for us to connect, learn, innovate and think about how we can better fight communicable diseases,” Alknawy said during his opening remarks at RGDHS.

“Digital health has played a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19,” he added.

The Ministry of National Guard’s Health Affairs Department and G20 Saudi Secretariat are organizing the two-day virtual summit in collaboration with the Saudi Center for International Strategic Partnerships. The summit follows an Extraordinary Summit of the G20 earlier this year in March, during which members of the 20 most powerful countries in the world all expressed their commitment to fighting the coronavirus pandemic as a united front.

Alknawy noted that the event had welcomed over 100,000 participants from 110 countries around the world.

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