Saudi Arabia’s industrial sector employed 471 Saudi nationals in July, while cutting over 1,900 expats amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Bin Ibrahim al-Khorayef said Tuesday.

“With the grace of God, and then the continued government support for the economic sectors in general, the industrial sector was able during the month of July, and despite the pandemic conditions, to employ 471 Saudis in exchange for cutting out 1,904 expatriates,” al-Khorayef said in a tweet.

The ministry issued additional data on Tuesday, indicating that the sector had also attracted investments worth 1.15 billion riyals ($307 million) despite the widespread global slowdown caused by COVID-19.

Saudi Arabian authorities have moved to counter the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus, which some international bodies have signaled with likely cause the greatest global recession in nearly a century.

Cases in the Kingdom have continued to rise slowly, with the health ministry reporting 1,521 new infections on Tuesday, raising the total to 291,468. Nearly 88 percent of all of Saudi Arabia’s cases have already recovered, however.

On Tuesday, a senior member of the health ministry indicated that part of the reason behind the Kingdom’s effective response to the coronavirus lies in lessons learnt in fighting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a disease that first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The deadly MERS pandemic, however, resulted in numerous investments and knowledge gains that helped Saudi authorities in fighting COVID-19. Both the Kingdom’s command and control center, and emergency operations center coming out of investments made following MERS, Dr Hani Jokhdar, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Public Health, Ministry of Health, explained.

Furthermore, unlike many countries, Saudi Arabia has not experienced a significant shortage of life saving personal protective equipment (PPE), due to supply chain decisions taken in the wake of MERS.

“We have never had an issue with the supply of PPEs because we were well prepared, we have a roadmap … We were able to build up our scalability requirement for PPEs and we brought and encouraged local manufacturing way before we got hit by cases, and all of that was learning from MERS,” Jokhdar said.