Saudi Arabia administers seven million doses of Covid-19 vaccines

More than 587 centres have been inoculating citizens and residents

FILE PHOTO: Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine labels are seen in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Saudi Arabia has given more than seven million doses of coronavirus vaccines to citizens and residents as part of its immunisation drive, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

The kingdom recently recorded a surge in infections, prompting authorities to urge the public to follow health and precautionary measures, including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

The ministry said vaccines were given at more than 587 sites across the kingdom as it reported nine new deaths and 948 infections on Saturday.

Vaccines are available to all citizens and foreign residents for free, the government said.

Authorities imposed fines of up to 200,000 riyals or a jail term of two years, or both penalties, for those who violate their quarantine regulations.

Since the outbreak of the virus in March last year, the kingdom has recorded a total of 404,054 cases and 6,810 deaths.

Before the vaccination drive began, the Health Ministry said it hoped to have enough to cover 70 per cent of the population by the end of this year.

Saudi Arabia has a population of about 35 million people.

The kingdom approved the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines in January to speed up the inoculation campaign.

Prior to the new year, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was in use.

Those wishing to get a vaccine can do so by applying through the Tawakkalna mobile app.

The government has also announced new regulations for the holy month.

King Salman approved that taraweeh prayers be shortened from 20 rakaat (salutations) to 10, limiting the Ramadan prayers to 30 minutes, in addition to maintaining restrictions on the number of worshippers in the holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah.

Social distancing and wearing of masks will be mandatory for all visitors wishing to perform the pilgrimages of Umrah and Hajj.

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