JEDDAH: Travelers who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) do not need to quarantine upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, said the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), but they must have vaccination certificates that have been attested by authorities in their home country.
GACA has set a seven-day quarantine for foreign travellers who have not been vaccinated yet. The approved vaccines are Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
Health officials in the Kingdom have been at great pains to emphasize the safety and efficacy of the jabs, dispelling any speculation around them as the country continues its inoculation drive.
Dr Abdullah bin Mefarreh Asiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive health, said it was coronavirus that caused myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and not the vaccine.
He tweeted that cardiac magnetic resonance assessment showed that 60 percent of people with a severe COVID-19 infection showed signs of myocarditis.
He cited a study, published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which included 100 patients recently recovered from coronavirus. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging revealed cardiac involvement in 78 patients and ongoing myocardial inflammation in 60 patients, which was independent of preexisting conditions, severity, overall course of the acute illness, and the time from the original diagnosis. Asiri said that just 89 cases of myocarditis were detected among those who had been vaccinated, following 155 million Pfizer doses being administered.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Health, Dr Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, insisted that COVID-19 vaccines were safe, effective and necessary for protection. He said that rumours and misinformation about the vaccines had gained a lot of traction, posing a threat to others and hindering herd immunity.
Saudi Arabia on Monday reported 15 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the death toll to 7,362. There were 1,245 new cases, increasing the total number of infections to 450,436. There are 9,661 active cases, with 1,438 patients in critical condition. Of the newly recorded cases, 428 were in the Makkah region, 313 were in the Riyadh region, 155 were in the Eastern Province, and 99 were in the Madinah region. The ministry said 1,275 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing this total to 433,431. Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 19,214,578 PCR tests, with 92,458 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Testing hubs and treatment centres have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the outbreak. Taakad centres provide testing for those who show no or mild symptoms, or those who believe they have come into contact with an infected individual.
Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties. Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app. Saudi Arabia has so far vaccinated 14,146,363 people.