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JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will begin extending its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine program beyond those with health conditions and the elderly, the health ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged people to register for vaccination early, saying this will help both the public and the ministry.

While the focus is still on those aged 65 and over, the vaccine rollout will now be widened to include other segments of the population, he said.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, and is evaluating four other vaccines, spokesman Tayseer Al-Mufarij said.

A total of 639,587 people have been inoculated so far.

Al-Abd Al-Aly said that Taakad centers are still administering coronavirus tests, while anyone with possible symptoms can visit one of the specially equipped Tetamman clinics.

The clinics have received 2,008,083 patients, while 28,040,237 people have benefited from consultation services by calling ministry representatives on 937.

On Thursday, the Kingdom reported five new coronavirus-related deaths, lifting the toll since the pandemic began to 6,480.

A total of 356 new cases were reported, raising the number of those infected to 376,377. There are 2,574 active cases, with 473 in a critical condition.

“We are monitoring fluctuations in regions of the Kingdom. Some have seen an increase in cases while others have fewer cases. This shows we are not at a completely stable state yet. We must exert more efforts to feel at ease,” Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

According to the ministry, 180 of the newly recorded cases were in the Riyadh region, 80 in the Eastern Province, 37 in Makkah and 13 in Qassim. The rest of the regions reported cases in single figures.

A total of 308 recoveries brought the overall number in the Kingdom to 367,323.

Testing on 45,608 people lifted the overall number of conducted PCR tests to 13,509,412.



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