A crowded Riyadh International Book Fair in the Saudi capital on October 9, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has overcome the “tough” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, but caution must persist, a health official has said.

As of Sunday, Saudi Arabia has started relaxing curbs against COVID-19 as the epidemiological situation in the country has stabilised amid a sharp decline in infections and a vigorous vaccination campaign.

The relaxed measures include removing mandatory wearing of face masks in outdoor places and ending distancing for worshippers at the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina where full operation has been reinstated.

Spokesman for Saudi Health Ministry Dr Mohammed Al Abd Aly said that people’s abidance by precautions and an increase in numbers of those obtaining the jabs against the diseases have helped overcome “tough phases” of the pandemic.

Nearly 45 million doses have been administered in the kingdom since mass vaccination kicked off in mid-December.

“Numbers of coronavirus patients have significantly dropped,” the official was quoted by Okaz newspaper.

“Everyone should help keep achievements made in Saudi Arabia against the pandemic,” said Dr Al Abd Al Aly. “Improvement in the epidemiological scene and drop in infections have contributed to relaxing precautions, a matter that requires all of us to continue observing measures related to this stage. The pandemic still exists and so are its mutants,” he added.

A total of 548,018 coronavirus cases and 8,767 related deaths have been so far reported in Saudi Arabia.