Saudi Arabia Signs Deal With China For 9 Million Virus Tests

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Saudi Arabia announced Sunday a $265 million deal with a Chinese firm to ramp up coronavirus testing as the kingdom eased a 24-hour curfew, except in hotspots including Islam’s holy city of Mecca.

The agreement with China’s Beijing Genome Institute (BGI) will provide for nine million COVID-19 tests, the government said in a statement.

It said in line with the agreement “500 experts, specialists, and technicians” would come from China to conduct the tests.

The deal, which has a total value of 995 million riyals, also includes “the establishment of six large regional laboratories in a number of areas in the kingdom, including a mobile laboratory with a production capacity of 10,000 tests daily”, it added.

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Earlier the government decided to relax a nationwide curfew between 9am and 5pm, with malls and retailers allowed to reopen until May 13, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

But a round-the-clock lockdown will be maintained in some areas including Mecca, where the highest number of infections have been recorded in recent days despite the city being sealed off.

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