For those expatriates coming into the kingdom for the first time and those who are returning after a vacation, you shouldn't be surprised to see that you are being scrutinized upon arrival in the airport by a medical team. This is one of those things, like security checks, which might appear inconvenient but is absolutely necessary considering the times we are living in.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Swine flu in Saudi Arabia
It's now official. Swine flu has arrived in the kingdom and the official count, sadly, is 6 deaths until now and 595 affected. What started off as a localized problem in Mexico has now spread all over the globe and Saudi Arabia is no exception. The situation has now become so critical that Iran has prohibited its citizens from performing Umrah during the month of Ramadan.
With the month of Ramadan just around the corner, Makkah and Madinah would be attracting pilgrims from all over the world wanting to perform Umrah. The Saudi Government's Ministry of Health is taking no chances. Private hospitals have been given the green light to supply anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza to patients suspected with H1N1 virus. In an advisory to all private and Government hospitals, the Ministry has instructed that any patient with a temperature of above 38 degrees C must be compulsorily tested for swine flu. Another health authority, the National Scientific Committee on Epidemic Diseases (NSCED) has proposed using thermal cameras at all airports and seaports to scan people suspected of carrying the virus. So, if a person arrives in the kingdom with a fever, he is sure to be detained and tested for swine flu. The NSCED has even recommended treating all patients of bronchitis and pneumonia as potential carriers of the H1N1 virus. All medical staff who are in contact with such patients have also been instructed not to come in contact with patients undergoing treatment for cancer and HIV.