MOH News
Dr. Tariq Madani: No Epidemic or Infectious Diseases Reported in Hajj
04 October 2014
The Advisor to His Excellency the Minister of Health and the Head of the Medical Advisory Council, Dr. Tariq Madani, has announced that the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not thankfully recorded any Ebola or Coronavirus cases, or any other infectious or epidemic diseases in the Hajj sites till now.
 
“The health condition of all pilgrims is reassuring so far,” Dr. Madani said, stressing that the ministry will not hesitate to reveal any infection with Coronavirus among pilgrims. “This comes as part of the MOH’s commitment to transparency and accountability,” he stressed.
 
Furthermore, Dr. Madani advised pilgrims to sacrifice animals, other than camels due to their links with the reported Coronavirus cases in the Kingdom. “Coordination is underway with the Agriculture Ministry as well as the Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministry, represented by the two municipalities of Jeddah and the Holy Capital,” he said.
 
Furthermore, Dr. Madani underlined that the number of Coronavirus cases has decreased during the past period after it reached its climax in May and April. “This achievement should be first attributed to the grace of our Almighty Allah, then to the steps taken by the ministry to control the virus through briefing people on the camels’ role in transmitting the virus,” Dr. Madani said.
 
“Until now, the ministry has not detected any Ebola or Coronavirus case among pilgrims visiting the Kingdom for Hajj,” he added, pointing out that the ministry has taken intensive measures to combat the virus and to prevent any other epidemic from emerging.
 
Speaking about the MOH’s measures to prevent the transmission of Coronavirus, Dr. Madani said they include intensifying anti-infection measures at health facilities, thus contributing to the eradication of diseases therein; that is to be added to briefing people on the camels’ role in transmitting the infection, especially after His Excellency the Minister of Health made clear that the camels’ role in transmitting the infection hits 3%, while they stand behind 97% of Coronavirus cases.
 
In the same vein, Dr. Madani pointed out that the ministry has shown great interest in combating the disease inside the health facilities, shedding light on the tough measures taken by the ministry in this regard, including ordering health professionals to wear special masks, placing patients at isolation rooms, training health facilities’ personnel on ways of handling the suspected cases and equipping the emergency sections and isolation rooms with air-purifying filters; that is to be added to briefing people on the updates of the disease.
 
As for the therapeutic aspect, Dr. Madani pointed out that the ministry has allocated and provided three therapeutic centers in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam with well-trained cadres and modern equipment, such as the artificial lung device, which is used to treat patients with no response to treatment.
 
Furthermore, Dr. Madani made clear that the ministry was keen to increase the number of intensive care beds with the aim of facing any suspected epidemic or infectious disease in the Kingdom, including the Holy Sites area, during the Hajj season. “A new intensive care unit was opened at each of Al-Noor Hospital, King Faisal Hospital in Makkah and East Arafat Hospital,” said Dr. Madani.
 
In addition, Dr. Madani shed light on the ministry’s keenness to provide well-trained staff to operate intensive care beds, as well as its endeavors to brief citizens, residents and pilgrims on the updates of the disease through distributing simplified and understandable audio and visual awareness materials to them. “In this year’s Hajj season, the ministry developed an Android Smartphone application to help pilgrims find the health facilities easily and to provide them with awareness messages,” he said.
 
“The application will be available on iPhone very soon,” said Dr. Madani, referring to the new mobile lab, which is considered a quantum leap in the field of medical tests due to its speedy and accurate performance and diagnosis. He noted that this is a third-level safety lab, which is only available at King Abdulaziz University.
 
Speaking about the MOH’s achievements in this domain, Dr. Madani said the ministry managed to combat Ebola and Coronavirus through its Command and Control Center, which is staffed with clinicians, scientists and researchers, as well as healthcare and emergency planning experts.
 
“The newly-established center is meant to monitor the health situation in the Kingdom and deal with any emergency that could –Allah forbid- pose a significant hazard to public health, such as bacterial epidemics and earthquakes,” said Dr. Madani, pointing out that the center is also tasked with predicting and getting ready for disasters before their occurrence.
 
“Although the Kingdom has not recorded any Ebola case in its territories, the center is ready for facing the disease,” said Dr. Madani, highlighting that new specialized and advanced centers were establish to examine Ebola tests. Also, the ministry signed protocols to deal with the suspected cases of Ebola.
 
Within the same vein, the MOH has intensified the epidemiological surveillance programs at all the kingdom’s ports. To that effect, a card is given to the travelers coming from the Ebola-stricken states: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and samples are taken from the travelers showing the Ebola-related symptoms. Then it is examined for having their illness case confirmed. Similarly, travelers with no symptoms when arriving in the Kingdom will be tracked for 20 days.
 
“Also,” he went on adding, “of the important achievements is developing the center operating under the direct supervision of the Minister of Health, in cooperation with world experts and international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is chaired by the Minister of Health himself.
 
It is made up of 11 platforms; each is concerned with tackling a specific topic.   All of them come under the supervision and coordination of the monitoring tower platform, constituting the central nerve for the work of the Command and Control Center. As such, the center works on coordinating among all the MOH’s departments to put its role into effect in terms of their fields of specialty; for maintaining the citizens’ and residents’ safety and health, and for protecting them against diseases.”
 
As regards the reason for sending the Ebola samples taken from the deceased Sierra Leonean traveler as a result of developing similar symptoms to the disease, Dr. Madni pointed out that the Ebola virus is tackled differently, and the WHO recommends planting the virus in special laboratories bearing the fourth safety degree, which is not forthcoming in the Kingdom.
 



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