MOH News
Scientific Committee: No Coronavirus Cases Detected among Pilgrims
29 September 2013
The National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases held a press conference this morning at the MOH Headquarter, which was attended by the members of the committee, as well as the Scientific Committee for Infection Control at Health Facilities. During this conference, the Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases affirmed that the health situation of pilgrims is reassuring so far, thanks be to Allah. According to the committee, the Ministry has designated specialized medical crews for all pilgrims entering through the various ports (land, sea and air ports) with the aim of examining those pilgrims and giving them the necessary immunizing vaccinations, as well as ensuring compliance with the health requirements sent to all the countries concerned. These requirements will help, Allah willing, disseminate health safety, and curtail the spread of epidemic diseases among pilgrims.
The committee added that the epidemiological surveillance conducted over the past 24 hours, not a single case has been detected among the pilgrims who have arrived thus far (600.000 pilgrims). There is ongoing cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) to follow up the updates of the disease worldwide.
The committee, represented by its chairman, the Deputy Minister for Public Health, Dr. Ziad Memish, mentioned that Madinah's Regional Laboratory, as well as the laboratory of Mina al-Wadi Hospital, have been added to the laboratories designated to conduct the tests of the novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This procedure is meant to ensure rapid access to results, and work in coordination with the regional laboratories in Riyadh, Jeddan and the Eastern Region on the cases suspected to be infected with the virus. “Test results will appear within up to four hours,” he said.
According to the committee's estimate of the number of Coronavirus cases registered so far, there are 114 Coronavirus cases, of whom 49 cases ended up dead. The committee pointed out that, even though committed to transparency, ongoing communication with the community, and updating people with all updates, it pays thorough attention, in the meantime, to the privacy and confidentiality of the patient. In this spirit, it doesn't keep any information about the patient other than those necessary to identify him, thus complying with the applied medical norms. Meanwhile, it communicates with mass media now and then to keep them always updated with the latest information about surveillance of the disease.
The committee went on to explain that the Ministry has prepared all the Holy Sites hospitals, and supplied them with medical crews capable of handling any suspected case. It also made clear that there are certain plans to be applied and procedures to be taken when registering any case during the Hajj season. The Ministry of Health shall be committed to providing all the curative and preventive services for pilgrims, thus adopting the approach it has been always accustomed to every year. The Ministry has also supplied all its facilities at the Holy Sites with the necessary preventive medications.
Over and above, the National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases and the National Scientific Committee for Infection Control at Health Facilities reiterated their recommendation towards putting off the pilgrimage of the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, and young people. That is to be added to adhering to the health requirements formerly announced at the MOH e-Portal.
The committee made clear that all the precautionary procedures it takes emanate from the scientific visions and recommendations put forth by specialized consultants, in addition to the recommendations of the WHO, including those that have to do with travelling, travelers, and those in contact with patients. Crucial among the ways of prevention and curtailment of the disease, according to the committee, is to wash hands thoroughly with water and soap, for 15-20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing, or use a sterile gel. It is recommended, also, to use a handkerchief, when coughing or sneezing, to cover the mouth and nose, and then dispose it in the nearest trash. Hands should not touch the mouth, nose or eyes until after ensuring they are clean; aside from making sure not to get in touch with infected persons, as well as keeping away, whenever possible, from the gatherings and agglomerations which function as a ripe environment for infection transmission, in addition to abiding by the directives given by the Ministry of Health and the other authorities concerned.
It is noteworthy, the National Scientific Committee for Infectious Diseases includes in its membership Dr. Ziad Memish, the Deputy Minister for Public Health, Dr. Ali al-Barrak from the Armed Forces Hospital, Dr. Sara al-Subei'i from King Khalid University Hospital, Dr. Sami al-Hajjar from King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Dr. Hesham Flimban from the Armed Forces, Dr. Jaafar Tawfik from Aramco Co., Dr. Fahad al-Rabeeah from King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Dr. Sulaiman al-Shahri, the Director General of School Health at the Girls Education Department, Dr. Hanan Balkhi from the National Guard Hospital, Dr. Saud al-Hassan from the Medical Services Department at the Ministry of Interior, Dr. Raafat al-Hakeem, Director General of MOH Infectious Diseases Control, Dr. Ali al-Shamri, Director General of the MOH Laboratories, Dr. Mazen Berry from the Faculty of Medicine at King Saud University, Dr. Aeshah al-Shemari, Director of MOH Infectious Diseases, Dr. Atef al-Shebl from the Faculty of Medicine at King Saud University, Dr. Abdullah Esseiri, Director General of the Infection Control at Health Facilities, and Dr. Mohamed al-Shahri from King Fahad Medical City (KFMC).


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