A prominent Saudi Arabian doctor and infectious disease consultant has been quoted in local online media outlet, Sabq as terming the rising number of coronavirus cases in the kingdom "disturbing".
The number of new cases reported daily in Saudi Arabia has risen substantially in the past days, but, Dr Nezar Bahabri claims, the spike in severe cases is not necessarily linked to the incremental easing of lockdown and curfew restrictions.
Yesterday, the kingdom's Health Ministry reported 1,975 newly confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the country total to 93,157, among them 611 deaths, according to John Hopkins' coronavirus resource centre data.
The number of critical cases – those in intensive care units and on ventilators – in Saudi Arabia has reached 1,264, claims Bahabri. However, according to the doctor, the rapid increase cannot be a result of easing restrictions, which started on 28 May, because most critical cases develop eight to ten days after infection, not six.
Instead, Bahabri claims the case spike could be a product of increased social contact during the Eid Al-Fitr celebrations on 25 May. He says patients he monitors claim their symptoms started towards the end of Ramadan and the first days of Eid.
The post-Eid spike in cases has also claimed the first life of a medical professional in the country after Naeem Chaudhry, a Pakistani doctor who was working in Makkah, succumbed to the virus on Wednesday, Arab News reported.
In the Sabq report, Bahabri is quoted explaining the importance of controlling the spread of the virus to make sure the country's health service is not overwhelmed. He also called on citizens to wear masks which, he claims, are 70 per cent effective in preventing transmission of the disease and have been made mandatory in public.
On 21 May, Sabq published quotes from Bahabri which claimed a return to normal life, while the virus remains prevalent, is possible, provided symptomatic patients immediately isolate at home once signs of infection appear.