Saudi Arabia, China sign $265.3m deal to enhance COVID-19 testing capacity

A medical staff sets a coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid test kit at the Ministry of Transportation in Jakarta, Indonesia on 20 April 2020. [Anton Raharjo - Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia and China yesterday signed a 995 million-riyal ($265.3 million) deal to provide the kingdom with nine million COVID-19 tests as well other equipment to fight the pandemic, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

According to SPA, the deal also includes the recruitment of 500 Chinese specialists and technicians for a period of eight months to conduct the tests and train Saudi medical teams as well as the establishment of six regional laboratories, including a mobile site with the capacity to conduct 10,000 tests per day.

Saudi Arabia has also purchased tests from the United States, Switzerland and South Korea bringing the number of tests to 14.5 million, equal to 40 per cent of the kingdom's population.

The Saudi Health Ministry announced yesterday that there are currently more than 17,500 cases of the coronavirus in the kingdom. Strict measures have been enforced to stem the spread of the virus with curfews being imposed in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the closure of the two central mosques to the public during Ramadan.

READ: Saudi eases coronavirus curfews, keeps 24-hour curfew in Makkah