Frequently asked questions

Information updated April 15, 2020


When will people who are currently restricted from returning to KAUST be able to return?

Since the COVID-19 situation escalated and the Saudi Arabian government placed travel restrictions on exiting or entering the country (as many other countries have also done for their own borders), travel back to KAUST is currently impossible.

When the government decides to lift the travel restrictions—which may be done for the entire world at once or may be done by country/region—then KAUST will also look to lift its restrictions. 

KAUST will liaise with each person individually to bring people back to the University in an organized manner and will do this as soon as possible when the restrictions are lifted.

Individuals returning to the Kingdom and KAUST will be required to enter quarantine, learn more.


If I become infected with COVID-19 while I am abroad, will I be paid? What about health insurance?

If you become unwell while overseas, the normal KAUST Sick Leave Policy will be applied. If this is applicable to you while overseas, please do not hesitate to contact coronavirustaskforce@kaust.edu.sa for further support and guidance.

If the health system that you are in does not cover medical costs, your BUPA Medical Insurance may be of benefit. Please also contact your travel insurance provider to discuss and explore medical coverage. If you have any questions regarding your BUPA membership or plan coverage, please email benefits@kaust.edu.sa or coronavirustaskforce@kaust.edu.sa.

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Travel Cancellations

I canceled my trip and insurance won't cover the cancellation costs. Will KAUST cover them?

KAUST is creating a claims process for any COVID-19-related travel cancellations. The details of the process will be announced in the near future.

Please note that you will be required to have attempted to reclaim any costs from your airline/hotel/travel agent and/or your travel insurance provider before KAUST considers any reimbursement. Written evidence of your attempts and any rejections will need to be provided.

Can I have an official letter from KAUST about the travel restrictions to present to travel companies for reimbursement?

Yes, please reach out to coronavirustaskforce@kaust.edu.sa or call 012-808-0950 to find out how to obtain a letter.​

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Entry to KAUST

What measures are being put in place at the gates?

We would like to remind the community that the campus is currently closed and that travel through Gate 1 is restricted only to people with hospital appointments in Jeddah. Any exception requests received are escalated to the EOC through the Coronavirus Taskforce. 

All KAUST staff and students who are currently residing outside of KAUST need to remain in place and, where possible, will need to work or study remotely.  If support is required, email CoronavirusTaskforce@kaust.edu.sa or call 012-808-0950. 

For anyone returning to KAUST, the following quarantine process applies:

  • Residents returning to KAUST from anywhere in the Kingdom will be required to go into quarantine for up to 21 days, or as long as deemed necessary
  • Anyone returning to KAUST following an urgent medical appointment is required to enter quarantine for up to 21 days, or as long as deemed necessary. If follow up or additional medical appointments are required, exceptions will be made for travel to and from the medical facility. Upon return to KAUST, the 21-day quarantine period will restart
  • Anyone given an exception to leave and re-enter KAUST for any reason will be required to complete quarantine upon return for up to 21 days, or as long as deemed necessary
  • In all cases, if an individual is quarantined at home, any additional person also residing in the same property will be required to enter quarantine for up to 21 days, or as long as deemed necessary

Please note that anyone in quarantine will be required to take a Covid-19 test on day 20 of their quarantine before they are able to exit.  Whilst KAUST Health will try their best to ensure the results are returned by day 21, the tests are processed by the Ministry of Health and therefore there may be a slight delay in receiving these. KAUST Health will update you as soon as the results are confirmed back to us.

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Face coverings

Do I still need to stay at least 2 meters (6 feet) away from people if wearing a face covering?

Yes. Wearing face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. KAUST still requires that you stay at least 2 meters or 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand washing and other everyday preventive actions. A face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms (asymptomatic).

What type of face covering should be worn?

Face coverings can be the disposable paper mask type or they can be made from household items at home from common materials at low cost, check here.

Can face coverings be washed and re-used?

Cloth/fabric face covering masks can be washed and reused. It is recommended you wash the masks daily if you wear them for a significant period during the day. You may want to rotate a few face mask coverings. Washing can be hand or machine wash (use warm or hot water) using normal household laundry detergent and/or bleach, and wear them again only once they are completely dry (use high heat for dryer). It is also recommended that clean face coverings be stored in zip-lock plastic bags to avoid contamination.

Who should not wear face coverings?

Face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age; anyone who has trouble breathing; anyone who is incapacitated; or anyone otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Why is KAUST recommending face coverings instead of N95 respirators?

N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by WHO guidance. 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

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Confirmed cases

How are suspected cases tested?

At KAUST Health, we are following the procedures advised by the Saudi Ministry of Health. We have tested our suspected patients by taking nasopharyngeal swabs for PCR targeting E-gene and RdRp.

The swabs are then sent to a Ministry of Health laboratory in Riyadh and Jeddah for testing, and the results are sent back to us in approximately 24-48 hours, sometimes longer.

Any individual who is tested will also remain in quarantine.

What will happen to me if I get COVID-19?

Please be assured that if anyone is diagnosed with COVID-19, KAUST will continue to support them as much as possible and will work with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in such circumstances.

If an individual is suffering from acute / severe symptoms, then they will immediately be transferred by ambulance to a facility in Jeddah as in any emergency situation.

If an individual is showing mild symptoms or no symptoms at all and if a test result is positive the MOH will inform KAUST Health.  KAUST Health will then call you to inform you of the results and ask you to remain in quarantine.  Arrangements will be made to collect each individual to be collected from their accommodation for a transfer to an allocated facility in Jeddah.  This transfer will be by the KAUST Health team.

On arrival at the facility, individuals will be kept in isolation and tests may be administered such as chest x-rays or blood tests.  These are purely to understand the extent of Covid-19 infection. 

Any individual will be re-tested for Covid-19 and will continue to be so every 72 hours.  Only when two consecutive negative test results are recorded will the individual be discharged and allowed to leave the facility. 


What support is in place from KAUST whilst I am in Jeddah?

Any person transferred will be allocated a liaison from the Taskforce Operations Hub who will be the ongoing point of contact and support with any specific requirements. 

In addition, as the primary care provider, the clinical team at KAUST Health will continue to be in touch and liaise with the local healthcare teams to ensure all medical support is appropriate.


How do I get back from Jeddah once I have been discharged?

Transport will be arranged to bring individuals back to KAUST.  Please contact CoronavirusTaskforce@kaust.edu.sa or call 012-808-0950 to arrange transportation.


Where will I go if I am transferred for Covid-19?

Currently, all confirmed cases will be transferred to a medical facility in Jeddah.  This could include:

  • King Abdullah Medical Complex (KAMC)
  • East Jeddah Hospital (EJH)
  • Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital (DSFH)

Other locations may be added to this list and for mild and asymptomatic cases you may then be transferred to a hotel under MOH control to continue your observation.


What happens to children?

If any children are identified as confirmed cases then they will also be transferred to one of the medical facilities in Jeddah.  It is likely they will go to a facility with a pediatric department – likely to be EJH or DSFH.  A parent will be able to travel and stay with them.

If parents of children are confirmed as having COVID-19 but the children are not then alternative arrangements for child care may have to be made.  For young or nursing children they will be able to transfer with the parent/s but for older children they may not be able to travel.  It is sensible to make arrangements for childcare in this circumstance.


Will people be asked to work from home?

At this time, leave from the workplace is now being made compulsory for all staff members 55 and over, pregnant and nursing mothers and for all other vulnerable groups. Consult the CoronavirusTaskforce@kaust.edu.sa or call 012-808-0950 if you have questions about applicability to your personal circumstances.

If you have personal visitors with you who are also over the age of 55 or who are in a vulnerable group, please safeguard their welfare and apply the same guidance.

I heard that the air conditioning system contributed to an outbreak on a cruise ship. What about the ACs at KAUST? Could these pose an added threat?

The risk of COVID-19 spread through air conditioning systems is considered to be very low.

However, KAUST has been using buildings for quarantine that are operated under their own air conditioning systems. Unless absolutely necessary, no person/persons will be put into quarantine in a shared air conditioned building.

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KAUST Health OB/GYNE – FAQ for All Pregnant Patients

These are trying times for everyone and we understand that being pregnant during this time can be frightening and create much stress. We in the KAUST Health (KH) OB department are here to help you during this time. We have gathered information for you as it pertains to your being pregnant while living in KAUST.

What is the latest information on COVID-19 and pregnancy?

As of April 5, 2020 the WHO has not listed pregnant patients as being in the high risk group. However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (London), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Saudi Ministry of Health, have included pregnant women in the list of high risk patients. However, this was done on a precautionary basis. Pregnant patients have the same risk of contracting COVID-19 virus as the general population. The elderly and those with medical problems such as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and immunocompromised state are considered high risk. The same precautions apply to you as to everyone else. Handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, social distancing, and staying at home are key factors in controlling the spread of the virus.

What should I do to continue my prenatal care at KH?

If you have been receiving your prenatal care at KH, your OB booklet is a good source of information as to your due date, signs of labor, important phone numbers, and what to bring to the hospital. Use the app "Prego Wheel" or something similar to determine how many weeks you are now. This will help you in understanding the schedule of visits, ultrasounds, and laboratory tests.

Another source of information is the KH website. (www.kh.kaust.edu.sa) In the OB section of the website is a 40+ information source that can answer some of your questions.

What about my prenatal visits to KH?

Your prenatal care can still be done at KH. We prefer that you limit your visits into DSFH, IMC, or Samir Abbas to only visits that are urgent. If you do need to go into Jeddah, please review KAUST's Coronavirus Task Force guidelines on travel out of KAUST and the need for 21 day quarantine upon your return to KAUST.

For now routine visits into KH will be limited to emergency or urgent cases. But this does not mean that you would not be seen in the clinic if you feel the need for a visit. The schedule of the visits will be altered under guidance of Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Call the KH Call Center (808-0940) to set up a telephone consultation with Dr Scott and Dr Asharaf El-Ammas.

What about ultrasounds?

Ultrasounds are usually done in the first trimester at 6-8 weeks and possibly again at 10-12 weeks. Fetal anomaly ultrasounds are done between 18-22 weeks and a fetal growth ultrasound between 30-32 weeks. Ultrasounds needed outside of this routine scheduling is decided on an individual basis.

What about blood work and laboratory testing?

Laboratory testing is done in the first trimester with the initial routine prenatal blood work. Screening for gestational diabetes is done between 24-28 weeks. Screening for Group B Strep is done between 35-37 weeks. Any further testing is decided on an individual basis.

What about prenatal classes?

Prenatal classes held in KH have been suspended for now. Elizabeth Mazey, RN, KH OB Educator, will be having Zoom classes that everyone will be able to attend. She can be contacted by email (emazey@fakeeh.care) to register for the classes with the dates to be advertised. Elizabeth is also available for one to one prenatal education and for breast feeding problems, via telephone consultations through the call center, as she is also KH's lactation counselor. Call the Call Center (808-0940) to set up a telephone consultation. Elizabeth may arrange to see you in person, if required.

What do I do if I go into labor?

There is no change in our policy. The risk of delivering in KAUST Health outweighs the risk of delivering in Jeddah. As before we emphasize the importance to come in early if you think you are in labor. (Review the signs of labor in your OB booklet). If you think you are in labor, you will come into the KH Emergency Department by ambulance (call 911). You will be assessed for labor by our qualified ER physicians. If it's deemed that you are in labor, an ambulance transfer to Jeddah will be arranged. If you plan on delivering at IMC or Samir Abbas, it would be helpful if you have the contact number of your doctor to facilitate the transfer. Otherwise you will be transferred to DSFH.

Who can go in the ambulance with me?

The ambulance has room for only one extra person to accompany you to Jeddah. This can be your husband or another family member or friend. Children would not be able to accompany you in the ambulance. If you are wanting more than one person to be with you in the hospital, you will need to make travel arrangements into Jeddah for them. KAUST current policy for anyone exiting KAUST would be for the individual/s to nto be allowed back into KAUST, however in instances relating to pregnancy, an individual accompanying/supporting an expectant woman would be granted an exception.

Can I go into Jeddah by private car?

Yes, but we advise you to take an approved taxi (which can be scheduled through the Coronavirus Taskforce Hub) or by an ambulance. This is to avoid any unnecessary complications are checkpoints in Jeddah. If you are scheduled for an elective caesarean section, contact the Coronavirus Task Force which will arrange for a medical taxi transfer for you. When you are coming back to KAUST, after having had your baby, contact the Coronavirus Task Force to arrange for a medical taxi to transport yourself, husband, baby and your luggage back to KAUST. Also, there are four buses that travel between Jeddah and KAUST on a daily basis.

What about child care arrangements?

If you have children, it is recommended to have child care arrangements in place early during the pregnancy. As stated previously, children would not be able to accompany you in the ambulance. Also each hospital has visitation rules regarding children in the birthing rooms. Check out your hospital's policy on children on their website. It is recommended that children not go into Jeddah to visit you as they will have an increased risk of exposure to the virus. If you plan on your children staying with relatives in Jeddah, they will not be allowed back into KAUST.

Can I give birth in KAUST?

All deliveries are done in Jeddah. KH does not have the resources to do deliveries as it is not a hospital. Therefore it's important that you come in early for evaluation if you think you are in labor. It's safer for you to have an early evaluation of labor in the KH ER to allow for transfer to Jeddah. It is strongly recommended to come in early and not to stay at home if you think you are in labor. Review signs of labor in your OB booklet.

What about postpartum visits?

Once you return to KAUST after your delivery, contact the KH OB department through the Call Center (808-0940) to arrange for your postpartum care. There are no home postpartum visits. You can arrange to be seen at KH at the same time that you are visiting the pediatrician with your baby. As you will be in the necessary 21 day quarantine, adjustments to your visit will be made for this. Let us know that you will be seeing the pediatrician to coordinate your visit.

Will I be provided with supplies such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, food, etc.?

No such supplies will be provided for you. If you have questions or require support during the covid-19 situation then please contact the coronavirustaskforce@kaust.edu.sa email or call 012 808 0950 and they may be able to offer assistance.

If I suspect I have been in contact with the corona virus or develop COVID-19 is breast feeding still considered safe for my baby?

In this evolving situation, the current advice is to continue to breast feed or give expressed breast milk as the benefits of giving human milk outweigh the possible risks. Research from China examined samples of breast milk form mothers infected with COVID 19 and all tested negative for the virus.

Take action to protect your baby and practice respiratory hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly or use sanitizer before and after breast feeding, avoid coughing and sneezing on your baby, wear a mask if available and routinely clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch.

Consider pumping and giving expressed breast milk to the baby if you are feeling unwell. Strict adherence to the sterilization guidelines in advised.

For all breast feeding issues or concerns refer to lactation support services (emazey@fakeeh.care). For support in KAUST community refer to the La Leche League Leader at (lllkaust@gmail.com).

 Will the SUV be providing baby car seat when discharge from the hospital after birth or should we bring our own?

At the moment, there are no available baby car seats in the SUV. To avoid the risk of cross contamination, it is advised to bring your own baby car seat when going to the hospital for the birth process.

May husbands stay with their spouse post-delivery at DSFH to avoid coming back to KAUST?

Yes, husbands are allowed to stay at DSFH post-delivery. If you are giving birth in a hospital other than DSFH, please contact the hospital to check their policy.

Can we have more information regarding how to get the birth certificate?

Please contact the hospital where you will give birth. Each hospital has a process in place and will guide you on how to issue the birth certificate. You can also contact KAUST Government Affairs regarding issuing the certificates but please remember that all Government offices are currently closed so this may take a little longer than normal.

Can we have more information on the name of the DSFH app and how to download it?

Please find this link on how to use and download the App

We had cancelled our visits to DSFH due to the current situation with COVID 19, if we go to DSFH for birth, will they accept us?

Yes, you will be accepted as a patient.

What precautions and plans are in place for high risk group?

Same precautions and plans are in place for everyone at DSFH from your arrival until you are discharged. Screening before entry into the hospital will be done. If the screening indicates exposure, you will be in the same process that the hospital has for anyone who presents with symptoms.

What if we get COVID symptoms before being discharged from the hospital, any process in place?

Each hospital has their own protocol in place if this occurs. If symptoms occur before discharge, you will be evaluated and not discharged until you are confirmed as negative. The KAUST Coronavirus Taskforce will support you during this time and help with any questions or queries.

Looking at all possible scenarios, if COVID 19 is confirmed while at the hospital after giving birth and there is another child at home, what would be the arraignment for that child?

If no-one is able to care for the child at home while the parents are in the hospital, the child would be able to go to Jeddah with the parent/s post delivery.

KAUST Health OB Department is here for your prenatal care as you progress during this trying time.

We wish everyone to stay safe and stay healthy.

KH Call Center Number (012) 808-0940