JEDDAH: The Saudi Health Ministry will soon launch the third phase of expanded testing to evaluate the COVID-19 spread rate in the country.

The ministry highlighted that the new phase will not include COVID-19 examination inside houses or by visiting residences. Instead, the ministry will provide different outlets and options to conduct the tests. It will establish drive-through centers for testing people inside their cars in several cities while also offering testing services at primary health care centers, and allow citizens and residents to book appointments to collect their own test samples through an online application.

The first expanded testing phase began with fieldwork by screening densely populated neighborhoods and labor residences in several cities, while the second phase began on May 4 and involved individuals who took the COVID-19 tests via the ministry’s “Mawid” app.

Currently there are 163,894 volunteers registered at the ministry’s health volunteering platform established at the beginning of the pandemic; 72,000 of the registered volunteers are ready to work when needed after completing the compulsory training program while more than 19,000 are active volunteers.

“The training programs are supervised by the Commission for Health Specialties and are necessary to ensure the safety of patients and volunteers,” said Dr. Safar Battar, director general of the ministry’s health volunteering center.

“Volunteers were able to serve more than 3.5 million beneficiaries through 352,181 volunteer hours, in more than 20 cities around the Kingdom,” Battar said.

Volunteering included working in hospitals and the ministry’s quarantine areas, offering medical consultations, participating in screening and epidemiological investigations and working at emergency and ambulance units, in addition to many other public health services.

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The platform was launched earlier in April in accordance with a royal decree in partnership with 12 government agencies to receive volunteer applications from different specialties, whether health-related fields or others.

Meanwhile, 2,691 new COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia were announced on Wednesday — 74 percent are male, 87 percent are adults and 40 percent are Saudis. 

Of the new cases, 815 were recorded in Riyadh, 311 in Jeddah, 306 in Makkah, 236 in Madinah. 

The total number of cases recorded is 62,545. There are currently 28,728 active cases, with 276 in critical condition.

The Health Ministry announced that 1,844 more patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 33,478.

The ministry also reported 10 new deaths of expats in Makkah and Jeddah, aged between 33 to 95, raising the toll to 339.

The ministry also announced the conducting of 18,094 new COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction tests, which brings the total number of tests conducted in Saudi Arabia to 636,178 so far.



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