MOH News
Dr. Al-Hukeil: MOH Adhered to the Recommendations of the International Infection Control Centers
12 October 2013
Dr. Abdullah al-Hukeil, a consultant physician of infectious diseases, has regarded the air- and food-borne diseases as the most common diseases in Hajj.
 
They trigger viral inflammations (also known as respiratory infections), which are, in most cases, mild and casual, unless the infected person suffers from immunodeficiency or chronic diseases.
 
Influenza is the most outstanding of such viruses, which may develop complications for over 40% of the elderly and those suffering from immunodeficiency.
 
Dr. al-Hukeil pointed out that, due to the overcrowding and the diversity of the places and health backgrounds from which pilgrims come, there are many diseases that could be transmitted through the air, such as: tuberculosis, meningitis, etc.
 
Contaminated food is the second source of infection. Notwithstanding the strenuous efforts exerted by authorities to put an end to the hawkers phenomenon, and overseeing food outlets, still food is sold on the street.
 
So, the pilgrim should assume his responsibility, and be cautious by getting his food from places overseen by the relevant authorities, and keep away from exposed food. 
 
Dr. al-Hukeil made this intervention while interviewed at the Media and Health Awareness Information Center, as part of the service: “Pilgrims Health Is our Concern” provided by the Ministry of health via its toll-free number: 8002494444, and through the MOH's Twitter account: @saudimoh.
 
The center holds interviews with a constellation of the most prominent consultant physicians of all specialties, with the aim of raising pilgrims' awareness and help them perform the Hajj rites easily and safely.
 
Speaking of the preventive procedures to be paid thorough attention by pilgrims before setting out for Hajj, Dr. al-Hukeil reiterated the importance of taking the necessary vaccinations, most importantly the seasonal influenza vaccine.
 
Also, the meningitis vaccination is also an inevitable prerequisite at least two weeks right before the travelling for Hajj, so that it would produce adequate antibodies in the body.
 
He also advised pilgrims to adhere to personal hygiene, and washing hands every now and then, as well as verifying of the food safety, especially those suffering from such chronic diseases as diabetes, heart diseases and kidney diseases, or those taking immunosuppressive drugs such as rheumatism patients, and so on.
 
Dr. al-Hukeil also recommended putting on face masks, since they reduce the risk of disease transmission through the respiratory system.
 
However such masks do not prevent transmission altogether; they prove more efficient in preventing bacterial infections (such as TB), as opposed to viral infections (influenza and coronavirus). That is because bacteria are larger in size that viruses.
 
Nevertheless, they contribute to the reduction of the possibility of transmission. They have to be replaced when getting wet; a wet face mask is more harmful than protective.
 
Moving on to coronavirus, and how get protected from it, he said that, thanks be to Allah, the number of infections is very limited thus far. At the international level, over more than 14 months, only 130 cases have been diagnosed as having coronavirus. Possibility of man-to-man transmission of coronavirus is not so high as in the case of seasonal influenza.
 
The degree of the diseases and severity of the virus are not precisely known so far.
 
To date, no extensive epidemiological surveillances have been conducted to know whether the cases have developed acute complications.
 
However, based on indicators of the past period, especially the past Umrah season, we are quite reassured.
 
Speaking about how to handle infectious diseases, especially the coronavirus in the Hajj season, Dr. al-Hukeil said that the Ministry of Health has put into effect all the recommendations put forth by the international infection control centers, including the screening and isolation of all cases; not only the confirmed cases, but also the suspected ones.



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