Crown prince a key player in COVID-19 fight

Crown prince a key player in COVID-19 fight
Crown prince a key player in COVID-19 fight

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been instrumental in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens and residents.

“We are heading toward the good, God willing,” the crown prince told senior government officials last month. “This is thanks to the fortitude of the men of Saudi Arabia, both military and civilians.”

A tangible reflection of these efforts was witnessed in April when the Kingdom’s National Unified Procurement Company and China’s Beijing Genome Institute signed an agreement to enable the Kingdom to conduct up to 60,000 tests a day, some in unique inflatable mobile laboratories, and test 14.5 million people — more than 40 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population.

The $265-million deal meant China would supply the Kingdom with 9 million coronavirus test kits, 500 specialist technicians and six test laboratories. The Chinese technicians were also commissioned to train Saudi staff to test for COVID-19. The mobile Huo Yan laboratories are modular air domes that support screening and detection. The inflatable labs can be transported by air as standard freight on any commercial passenger plane.

The Kingdom has also purchased test kits and chemical reagents from the US, Switzerland and South Korea.

In a separate endeavor, prior to the agreement, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center delivered a shipment of 60 ultrasound machines, 30 non-invasive ventilators, 89 defibrillators, 277 patient monitors, 500 infusion pumps and three dialysis machines to the Chinese city of Wuhan, from which the COVID-19 outbreak originated late last year.

While taking the appropriate measures to contain the spread of the virus, the Kingdom’s leadership has enabled government agencies to provide financial packages worth more than SR170 billion to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Those packages have so far benefited 9,000 factories, about 3,000 of which have been working at full capacity to provide much-needed food and pharmaceutical products.

Enayah, Saudi Arabia’s largest manufacturer of medical masks and gowns and medical kits, set a target of 10 million masks to be produced per month and 800,000 gowns per week. It is currently producing 250,000 comprehensive medical kits per week for local use and for export to the GCC, the wider MENA region, and Europe.

Avalon Pharma, the Kingdom’s largest manufacturer of sanitizing lotions, has increased its production to 50 tons per day — twice the normal production rate. It has also been exporting to the GCC and MENA region.

As Abdulrahman Al-Hussain, spokesperson for the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment, told Arab News last month: “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic crisis in all countries. I think that one of the main pillars of the Kingdom’s vision is the private sector and commercial establishments.”

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