COVID-19 Update—March 19
The CCMT and the Coronavirus Taskforce continue to meet regularly to proactively appraise the situation and set strategy and necessary policies that continue to strike a balance between protecting the community and minimizing disruption.
There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus and we are working hard for that to continue to be the case.
The following are items that we wish to update you on today.
Social distancing – changes to guidelines
The next two to three weeks are critical for us as a community. As such, please strictly follow these guidelines to reduce interpersonal contact and the risk of transmission:
- All indoor and outdoor activities should be limited to under 10 people
- Do not go off campus, except in critical circumstances
- Do not hold parties or group gatherings
- We recommend that you only mix with people in your family or people who you normally share living space with
- We ask that you minimize deliveries to KAUST from off campus, and we cannot guarantee that it will continue to be possible to get deliveries to homes from the gate
Gate 3 closed
Gate 3 is now closed for 14 days, effective today, March 19. Security are closing the gate as traffic declines significantly and to ensure that a high level of screening continues to take place.
At this time, Gate 1 will continue to be open and entrance protocols will continue as normal. You will be asked the purpose of your trip if you leave the campus, and you should expect to be given education on why we are recommending you stay on campus.
Bus schedule changes
Effective Friday, March 20, 2020, the schedule of the shuttles and on-demand buses will change until further notice:
Shuttle service: Every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday
On-demand service: 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., 7 days per week
Weekend shuttle services have been cancelled until further notice. On demand is available 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. all weekend.
Jeddah hospital arrangements
In the event of a case on campus, patients with a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 will be treated in the King Abdullah Medical Complex Jeddah (KAMCJ). As KAMCJ does not have pediatric facilities, children under the age of 14 will be treated at the East Jeddah Hospital and one adult will be permitted to go with them. In the event that adults and minors are confirmed as having positive cases together, they will go to the East Jeddah Hospital together.
A KAUST team, including Chris Sealey, Sulaiman Al Thunayan, Daniel Buttigieg and Professor Diogo Gomes have now visited both facilities and reported that both are well-run and modern, with experienced staff who are ready and prepared. Dan took a number of photos of the facilities to help community members get a better sense of the level of comfort and care they can expect.
Finance wants all staff and students to know that the payment system is robust and that regardless of bank closures, salary and stipend payments will happen as normal.
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 HRHelpdesk@kaust.edu.sa 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.
Shutting down small and medium projects
As part of the implementation of KAUST-wide social distancing and infection prevention measures, it has been decided to temporarily pause work on all small to medium scale construction projects where contractors are already on site. Engineering and Project Management (E&PM) is working with contractors to ensure that sites are safely and securely closed down, and all projects are expected to be closed by the end of today (Thursday, March 19).
Projects that are in the early stages of development and not yet on site will continue to be developed until no further progress can be made without consultants/contractors needing access to KAUST.
The intention is to progress projects as far as possible to mitigate against further delays when KAUST access restrictions are eased.
The time frame for this phase is not yet known, but is anticipated to be a minimum of two weeks.
The strategic projects (for example, the Saudi Aramco Research Center) will for now, continue as normal with enhanced management practices and controls on the movement of contractor staff and labor to and from the project sites.
E&PM will review the schedules of all projects and will provide revised completion forecasts when there is clarity on when site-based work may recommence.
The KAUST Coronavirus Taskforce is your dedicated source for information about everything happening on campus and related to the KAUST community. Be cautious about information you read on social media and through other sources.
Stay informed about COVID-19 and the University's efforts by visiting KH.kaust.edu.sa/coronavirus.
You can also contact our dedicated helpline at CoronavirusTaskforce@kaust.edu.sa or by calling 012 808 0950, Sunday to Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The weekend ahead will not be a normal weekend, but take a look at the Virtual Community Hub for things to do in these unusual and challenging times.