Under the chairmanship of Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, the COVID-19 Follow-up Committee held its 38th meeting today.
During the meeting, all relevant COVID-19 updates and reports were reviewed. The committee discussed the epidemiological situation globally, as well as the cases reported locally. All precautionary measures carried out at the points of entry into the Kingdom will continue in full and will be further enhanced, the committee stressed.
Following the meeting, a press conference was held, including Health Ministry Spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali and Spokesman for Higher Education at Ministry of Education, Tariq Al-Ahmari.
For his part, Dr. Al-Abdulaali said the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is 597,000 cases, of which 113,000 cases have been cured to date. The COVID-19 death toll has jumped to 27,000.
Dr. Al-Abdulaali said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reported 99 new cases, of which 10 cases got infected while traveling and they are quarantined since their arrival to the Kingdom's ports of entry. The remaining 89 cases got infected as a result of contact with previously confirmed cases.
The new cases are distributed as follows: Riyadh 41, Jeddah 18, Makkah 12, Qatif 12, Madinah 6, Tabuk 3, Khamis Mushait 3, Abha 1, Hofuf 1, Khobar 1, Saihat 1, bringing the accumulative number of COVID-19 infections in the Kingdom to 1203 cases. They are receiving necessary medical care and are in stable condition, with the exception of 4 critical cases. A citizen in Riyadh who was previously diagnosed as infected with COVID-19 and suffering from chronic diseases died, bringing COVID-19 death toll to 4. However, two cured cases were recorded, bringing the number of cured cases to 37.
He stressed the continuity of health efforts to prevent society from this global pandemic, indicating that the total advanced laboratory tests exceeded 51,000 tests, and the percentage of examinations for the population is among the top 10 countries in the world.
He called on everyone to take advantage of the self-assessment service about the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, which is available on MAWID electronic application.
For his part, the Spokesman for Higher Education at Ministry of Education, Tariq Al-Ahmari thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince for their keenness and support for the students and said that the Ministry of Education's preparations to confront the coronavirus began on the 1st of February, under the directive of the Minister of Education through updating emergency plans, raising readiness and awareness campaigns, and preparing hospitals and university health centers to integrate with the efforts of the Ministry of Health and related authorities.
On the 8th of March, the precautionary decision to suspend studying was issued. On the second day immediately, the education in universities shifted to distance education, and the universities have distance learning deanships and a good technical structure.
He pointed out that the content on the university platforms reached 1,420,000 available content, and the active users amounted to 993,000, and that the files reviewed on the university platforms reached their average daily visits of 6 million.
He added that more than 133 master's and doctoral thesis were discussed remotely in Saudi universities during the past period.
He explained that there are 6 university hospitals provided by the Ministry within the national efforts with a capacity of approximately 3,000 beds, and the Ministry through 20 universities provided 77 buildings for medical isolation, including 6,000 rooms and suites, and the number of beds exceeds 9,045 beds in the event that they are needed.
Al-Ahmari indicated that the Ministry confirms the continuation of the education process for all educational levels, including diploma, master's and doctoral degrees remotely, according to the academic calendar approved by the Cabinet.
He noted that the Ministry is continuously following up with universities to ensure the fairness of the measures taken regarding the exams in accordance with these exceptional circumstances, in order to facilitate a fair and integrated end of the semester, and the committees are currently working on that, and a guide has already been issued by the Ministry and new developments will be announced through the official platforms of the Ministry.
He pointed out that the Saudi cultural attaches follow all the developments with the scholarship students, and instructions were issued by the Minister of Education to cancel the requirement for distance education hours in scholarship programs for the current semester.
He added that an option has been made available for students on scholarships to postpone the current academic semester if the competent authorities announced the possibility of returning to the Kingdom for whoever wanted to return, and it will not be counted in the scholarship period given the current circumstances and in order to ensure the safety of students, indicating that the number students abroad is 59,658, and the number of accompanying persons abroad is 33,235, and the total is 92,893.
Al-Ahmari concluded by stressing that education is continuing, offering his thanks to all university administrators, faculty and students for their outstanding efforts in continuing the educational process.