The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia rose by 1,122 in the past 24 hours to 10,484, the health ministry said, a sharp spike just days before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Middle East Eye reported.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said in a daily press briefing on Monday that of the total new cases, 874 were detected as a result of active testing carried out in crowded districts and other high-risk areas.
“This makes up 80 percent of the newly recorded cases in the kingdom,” Al-Aly said.
Saudi Arabia has taken several measures to contain the spread of the pandemic that has swept across the world with more than 2.4m confirmed cases and 165,000 deaths.
The kingdom has halted international flights, suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage, and closed most public places. Other Gulf states have taken similar precautions.
Saudi Health Minister Dr Tawfiq al-Rabiah urged citizens and residents to practise social distancing with the fasting month of Ramadan set to start later this week.
“We are used to actively participating in social gatherings and visiting families during Ramadan, but this year it will be different. We should abide by precautionary measures and practise social distancing to keep the virus under control,” the minister said.
Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh advised people to perform Taraweeh (special night prayers) and Eid prayers at home as a precaution to help the authorities fight the pandemic.