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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
He said the ministry has provided 14 hospitals in Makkah and the holy sites with a total of 2,782 beds, 244 intensive-care beds, and 287 emergency beds. In addition, there are 10 hospitals in Madinah as well as 136 health-care centers spread all over key Haj locations.
The minister said there were 35 permanent health centers in Makkah, nine seasonal centers along the Makkah-Madinah express road and four health facilities inside the Grand Mosque.
There are also 28 centers in Mina, six in Muzdalifah and 46 in Arafat, he said.
He added there are 10 general hospitals in Madinah containing 1,170 beds, four seasonal health centers in the central area around the Prophet’s Mosque, seven along the axial roads and five at pilgrim accommodations.
According to the minister, a total of 17,609 medical staff consisting of doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators are providing services to pilgrims.
Meanwhile, the head of the Haj preparatory committees at the Ministry of Health dismissed rumors pilgrims purchased false swine flu vaccination certificates to enter the Kingdom. “Such rumors simply are not true, because we never asked pilgrims to have certificates as a prerequisite for obtaining Haj visas,” Dr. Yakoob al-Mazrou’a told a press conference at the MoH’s headquarters in Mina on Sunday.
“Because the safety of pilgrims is the top priority of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his government, the MoH, as well as all other government agencies, do not spare any effort or resources to act on this priority,” he said.