KSA steps up efforts to repatriate Saudi citizens

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Mobility rate in Saudi Arabia remains above 40%; people urged to keep staying at home

JEDDAH: The Saudi Health Ministry has described the results of a Google Maps COVID-19 Community Mobility Report as “very concerning” — as it shows people’s mobility rate in Saudi Arabia remains above 40 percent.
“Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent of mobility, shopping and outdoor activities; this is a very alarming percentage,” Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, the Health Ministry spokesman, said on Sunday.
“We are all in this boat together; those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too,” he said.
The report, published a few days ago, showed that visits to grocery markets, food warehouses and pharmacies dropped by 24 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to a baseline of data calculated during the five weeks from Jan. 3 to Feb. 6.
It also showed that mobility trends related to shopping and entertainment dropped by 54 percent and by 45 percent in workplaces, while it increased by 23 percent in residential places.  
Google prepared the report to help individuals and public health officials understand responses to social distancing guidance related to COVID-19.
The report charts movement trends over time by geography using aggregated and anonymized data to show popular times for places in Google Maps covering 131 countries.
As the confirmed cases rise to 2,385, the Saudi Health Ministry highlighted that 53 percent are non-Saudis. “This shows that the virus spread is present in all segments of the society, and the vast majority of cases are related to socializing,” Al-Aly said.
One person could infect up to 70 others, he said. “Usually, there are around 30 to 40 cases infected after being in contact with a single positive case. However, we have had cases of over 70 contacts, but thankfully they were contained and controlled.”  
“It is a huge challenge, but medical staff are up to the task,” he said.
The latest number of recoveries rose to 488, putting the total active cases at 1,863 while the number of deaths rose to 34.
Al-Aly said that the ministry updated the numbers several times a day on its webpage (covid19.moh.gov.sa) to ensure greater transparency and to help people’s access to data.
Meanwhile, there are more than 1,100 staff working at Saudi Red Crescent Authority operations rooms around the Kingdom 24/7, receiving urgent calls and reports on coronavirus-related issues. 
In recent weeks, the authority reported a 53 percent increase in calls with 350,000 calls from the different regions of the country. The Makkah and Riyadh regions registered the most calls. There are more than 20,000 volunteers registered ready to support the authority’s activities. 

The authority receives urgent calls on its 977 hotline, as well as reports on its smartphone app ASAFNY where people can request an ambulance or permission to leave their homes to reach health facilities during curfew hours.

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