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MoH: Spike in coronavirus cases is linked to Omicron No side effects of vaccine for children
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 26 - 12 - 2021

RIYADH — Assistant Minister of Health and the Ministry Spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdel Ali said that Saudi Arabia is currently witnessing a remarkable increase in the registration of coronavirus cases and this rise is linked to the wave of mutated Omicron variant. He also rejected rumors regarding the side effects of coronavirus vaccine for children.
Addressing the daily press conference to brief on the latest coronavirus developments here on Sunday, the spokesman said that the world is witnessing the highest rate of daily cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, with the reporting of more than one million daily cases in some days. "The Omicron mutant, which was classified as worrisome, has now been detected in nearly 115 countries around the world, and its percentage is gradually increasing as it has become prevalent in many countries," he said while emphasizing that the Kingdom will continue giving vaccinations and expanding the vaccination drive.
The spokesman rebuffed the fallacies being circulated by some people that coronavirus does not infect children, saying, "this is not true as it has already infected children and spread among them. Children are likely to be infected with coronavirus as adults," he said.
Referring to side effects of coronavirus, Dr. Abdel Ali said: "The vaccine has already been administered to more than five million children around the world, and they did not have developed any unexpected side effects. Moreover, studies and clinical examinations have confirmed the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for children," he said while noting that Saudi Arabia started giving vaccine to children aged 5 and above, with a priority on the basis of their health conditions, and the vaccination campaign among children will be expanded.
Dr. Al-Abdel Ali urged the Saudi people to take the booster dose with mentioning its benefits in raising immunity and confronting mutants like the Omicron variant. "The booster dose is mandatory to enhance immunity to prevent infection and confront mutants, as well as to reduce severe symptoms in the event of infection, as well as protect against cases of hospitalization and death. The Kingdom is ranked among the safest countries to travel to, and has proved resilient in tackling the pandemic," he said while noting that Saudi Arabia has so far administered more than 49 million doses of vaccine while over 23 million people have completed their immunization.
Entry to stores, restaurants for fully immune from Feb. 1
Addressing the press conference, Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said that entry to facilities, commercial centers, malls, restaurants and cafes will be limited to only those who have completed their immunization and took a booster dose effective from Feb. 1, 2022. The booster dose will be mandatory for those who took their second vaccine before eight months. However, this does not apply to those who are aged below 18 as well as to those who have exempted from taking the vaccine on medical grounds.
He warned against any negligence in complying with precautionary measures and preventive protocols against coronavirus such as wearing masks, checking health status on Tawakkalna app, and disinfecting all facilities and surfaces, especially shopping trolleys and baskets after each use.
Al-Hussein said that the preventive measures shall apply to all commercial establishments, shopping centers and large outlets, except small outlets which have to continue the standard method of checking the Tawakkalna app. He stressed that failure to comply with the precautionary measures will be met with penalties including fines ranging between SR10,000 and SR100000 and doubling of fines in the event of repetition of the violation, and shutting down of the facility. Access to commercial centers and major facilities is now possible by scanning an automated verification barcode and each establishment is obligated to assign monitors to ensure shoppers are following the rules, he added.

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