Pilgrims free of diseases

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said yesterday that all Haj pilgrims are safe and his ministry has not detected any epidemic diseases or malaria among the Haj pilgrims this year.

Al-Rabeeah said the pilgrims, who have already arrived in Makkah and Madinah, are in sound health. He also specifically said there is no incidence of malaria.

Although the coronavirus is still prevalent, there is no cause for alarm, said the minister. So far, he said, only two people were diagnosed positive for the disease.

Ministry officials are closely watching the movement of the virus. “We have alerted all the ports of entry in the Kingdom to check any suspected cases among pilgrims and regular travelers.

Most people infected with coronavirus are likely to recover after receiving the necessary treatment. This is a simple supportive medicine meant to prevent complications. Nonetheless, in rare cases, a species of this virus entails acute complications to the respiratory system and kidneys, which may lead to death.

Particularly vulnerable are the elderly and those suffering from chronic heart and chest diseases or immunodeficiency.

Prior to the start of the Umrah and Haj season, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent out circulars to its embassies abroad indicating the quarantine requirements in the respective countries for the issuance of the pilgrim visa.

This year, the Kingdom focused on diseases such as yellow fever, meningitis, seasonal influenza, polio and food poisoning. Stipulated vaccines should be given 10 days before the date of departure to Makkah and Madinah. The ships and aircraft carrying pilgrims have been advised to produce a certificate that the carriers are free of mosquitoes.

Al-Rabeeah said that each year his ministry focuses on preventive and curative measures and keep adequate stock of medicines to treat a large number of patients in case of an emergency.

He noted that health officials have been deployed at strategic locations in the holy cities to treat sick pilgrims. This year, he said the ministry has opened a 236-bed hospital in the east of Arafat. This hospital has 50 beds in its intensive care unit. There will be an additional 320 specialized medics and paramedics in rare fields to work on intensive care, emergency and other important areas. Besides the primary health care centers in the holy cities, the minister said that there would be eight large hospitals to serve the pilgrims.

He said the ministry has hired some 20,000 people to support the government team of officials who are working in the holy cities.

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