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Saudi pulls out all the stops
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health has refuted reports that 10 pilgrims have died in the Kingdom. He also insists that pilgrims are protected against swine flu, Arab News reports.
November 24, 2009 12:57 by Hamid Al-Sulami
Only four pilgrims have so far died from swine flu, not 10 as reported in some section of media, the minister of health claimed on Monday.
“There are no new deaths among pilgrims because of swine flu beyond the four deaths which were already announced. There are also no other epidemics,” Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah told Arab News.
The minister said so far there are 70 confirmed cases of swine flu among Hajis but claimed they are all recovering and stable.
“The patients have been confined to hospitals and only one of them is in intensive care,” he said, hitting back at those who allegedly spread exaggerated rumors about pilgrims’ health. “The general health condition of all pilgrims is reassuring. There are no other pandemics. The Ministry of Health has mobilized all resources for the well-being of pilgrims,” he affirmed.
“We have taken all precautionary measures to protect Hajis against swine flu and other diseases under the directives of our leadership and in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” he added. The minister said 19 well-equipped health centers have been established in Makkah to receive suspected and confirmed swine flu cases.
He added that a special laboratory would be set up in Arafat to test those who may have caught the virus 9 km away from Makkah where pilgrims stand from dawn to dusk at the climax of Haj.
There will also be a 57-bed quarantine section there, he said. In total, there are 14 similar laboratories around the Kingdom.
Al-Rabeeah revealed that BCR tests are in place to fight the renewed H1N1 virus at Mina al-Wadi (valley) Hospital and said three diagnostic labs have been set up in Makkah, one in the holy sites.