Saudi Arabia to compensate families of medical workers killed by coronavirus

Saudi and resident families will receive $133,000 for medical workers who have died since the start of the pandemic

Health workers prepare to perform nose swab tests during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP)

Families of frontline workers who have died battling the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia will receive 500,000 Saudi riyals ($133,000) in compensation, the Saudi Cabinet said on Tuesday.

The families of both Saudi and foreign victims from the public and private sectors were expected to receive the compensation from Wednesday.

The number of coronavirus cases reported each day in the kingdom has declined, after hitting a peak in June.

Saudi Arabia is currently 23rd on the ranking of countries with the most infections, according to World Health Organisation and government figures.

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The pandemic hit its tourism industry hard and affected 100 million jobs, Tourism Minister Ahmed bin Aqil said on Monday.

Despite the economic slowdown, the country signed deals worth 160bn riyals to breathe new life into the tourism sector and plans to host 100 million visitors by 2030, Investment Minister Khalid Al Falih said recently.

The optimistic outlook comes as Saudi Arabia prepares to host the G20 summit in November, with preparations having begun earlier this year.

Despite this, revenue linked to the annual Hajj pilgrimage declined as about 1,000 people from within the kingdom took part this year amid strict guidelines to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Before the public health crisis, more than 1.8 million people from around the world made the pilgrimage every year.

The UAE has also come up with initiatives to support frontline healthcare workers.

A scholarship programme to cover the cost of tuition, laptops and transport for their children until they complete high school was unveiled in September and is saving some parents about Dh40,000 ($10,900) annually.

A Frontline Heroes Office was established in July by presidential decree to “look after the needs and address priorities” of frontline workers, the state news agency Wam reported.