February 22, 2024

In response to the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19 within the country, Saudi health authorities are urging the public to wear face masks in crowded places as a preventive measure against respiratory infections.

The Public Health Authority (PHA) emphasized the importance of mask-wearing, stating, “It’s crucial to wear a mask when going to crowded places to safeguard yourself and others from respiratory infections,” in a recent announcement.

Earlier this month, the PHA not only announced the availability of an updated vaccine against COVID-19 but also recommended specific vulnerable groups to obtain it. These groups include pregnant women, individuals aged 50 years or above, healthcare practitioners directly dealing with patients, those suffering from chronic immunosuppressive diseases (including active cancer), and individuals at risk of infection due to excessive obesity.

The updated COVID-19 vaccine is designed to prevent complications of the disease and is effective against prevalent variants, according to the PHA. Importantly, the vaccine is approved for individuals over 18 and can be administered regardless of the number of previous doses.

Last month, Saudi health authorities reported the local detection of the JN.1 variant of COVID-19 but assured the public that it posed no significant cause for concern. At that time, the PHA indicated that they were closely monitoring the local spread of the JN.1 variant, accounting for 36 percent of the cases in the country.

As the nation continues its efforts to combat the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, adherence to safety measures, including mask-wearing and vaccination, remains a crucial component in the battle against COVID-19.