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MoH: Delta is still prevalent in Kingdom; surge in COVID-19 cases worrisome Vaccine for children in 5-11 age group soon
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 12 - 2021

RIYADH – The mutated Delta variant of coronavirus is still prevalent in Saudi Arabia, according to Dr. Abdullah Al-Quwazani, CEO of the Public Health Authority (Weqaya). Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Al-Quwazani has confirmed that the Omicron variant has a higher ability to spread and cause secondary infections while compared to the Delta variant.
"The booster dose of vaccine has the capability to resist the Omicron variant by more than 25 times in persons while compared to those who took just two doses of the vaccine against coronavirus," he said while noting that the spread of the Omicron variant is doubling by every 1.6 days in Denmark and by 1.7 days in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Al-Quwazani noted that 90 percent of those infected with the Omicron variant are in Europe, while the rate of spread in the Kingdom is 5.4 percent among the reported coronavirus cases. He urged people in the Kingdom to avoid unnecessary travel outside the Kingdom, especially to high-risk countries in the wake of a huge spike in Omicron variant cases. The travelers must avoid social contact for five days after returning from abroad, he said.
The Weqaya chief stressed the importance of wearing mask. He identified the most prominent places where one has to wear a mask are public markets; weddings halls and venues of events; stadiums and sports facilities; public and open areas, and venues for entertainment and cultural events.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdel Ali, spokesman of the Ministry of Health, said that vaccines against coronavirus will be administered to children aged between five and 11 years during the coming period. "The Ministry of Health expresses its concern over a surge in the COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia as the daily cases crossed the 100-mark for the second day in a row this week with 104 new infections recorded over the past 24 hours," he said.
The spokesman confirmed that the Omicron variant spreads faster, and that is a cause of concern. "The Omicron variant has been reported in almost half of the world countries, as several countries began to re-impose strict precautionary measures and preventive protocols.
Dr. Al-Abdel Ali said that more than 8.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world. In Saudi Arabia, more than 48 million doses of the vaccines have been given, and the number of those who completed immunization with two doses reached 22.9 million. He urged the public to hurry up to complete vaccination as well as to enhance immunity by receiving the booster dose.
At the press conference, Saad Al-Hammad, spokesman of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), confirmed that that the ministry has detected 1,127 violations of coronavirus precautionary measures in various private sector establishments. The spokesman pointed out that the immunization rate of receiving two or more doses of vaccine in the public sector reached about 96.63 percent while the rate stood at 94.22 percent in the private sector.

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