Saudi authorities are optimistic that the Haj season will pass without outbreak of the deadly MERS-coronavirus, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said here on Saturday.
“We are optimistic we can achieve yet another success as the Haj season nears. The Umrah season during the holy month of Ramadan succeeded despite health challenges such as the coronavirus,” he said at the inauguration of the 2nd International Conference on Mass Gathering Medicine.
Saudi Arabia has “longstanding experience” dealing with health challenges brought by large numbers of people, Al-Rabeeah said.
He said that around 200,000 pilgrims who have arrived in the Kingdom for Haj so far are in good health conditions.
Saudi Arabia is very keen to enhance its expertise in handling healthcare in mass gathering. Therefore, the Kingdom has introduced the Saudi diploma program in mass gathering healthcare at the Global Center for Mass Gathering Medicine which was launched at the Health Ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO),” Al-Rabeeah said.
Dr. Alaa Addin Olwan, regional director of WHO Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, said that in appreciation of the Kingdom’s expertise and dedicated efforts in providing healthcare services for a huge mass of pilgrims over the years, WHO decided to appoint the deputyship of the Saudi Health Ministry as a contributing center in mass gathering medicine accredited by WHO.
Health ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, South Korea, Sudan, Turkey and Yemen and vice health minister of Indonesia emphasized the role of efficient surveillance in detecting cases with communicable diseases, especially MERS-coronavirus. While recognizing the need for generating and recording accurate data and information on infection cases, the ministers admitted the right of anonymity for patients.