Coronavirus tests for sick Umrah pilgrims

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Updated 17 May 2013
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Coronavirus tests for sick Umrah pilgrims

Foreign Umrah pilgrims with flu-like symptoms will have to undergo tests for the deadly coronavirus when they arrive in the Kingdom, according to the Health Ministry.
Abdullah Asiri, director of the ministry’s infection control department, said the measure was aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
The move comes just two months before Ramadan, when Saudi Arabia hosts about two million pilgrims.
“The medical examination for coronavirus requires modern equipment and sophisticated technology. Most of the pilgrims come from countries that do not have this equipment,” he said.
Asiri, however, stressed that there is no evidence yet that the disease had spread widely abroad.
The Kingdom has reported 24 cases of the virus, with nine fatalities. The recent cases included two men, aged 48 and 58.
The ministry said earlier that it had stopped the spread of coronavirus from Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province to other parts of the Kingdom. There were a few cases in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, but no further infections have been reported. “No new cases of the virus have been found in other parts of the Kingdom,” Dr. Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary for public health at the ministry, told Arab News.
Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general for health security and environment at the World Health Organization (WHO), who visited the Eastern Province last Saturday, said the Kingdom has taken the coronavirus situation seriously and taken proper surveillance and control measures.
Saudi Arabia has over the years taken precautions against various contagious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
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Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

Updated 13 min 57 sec ago
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Somali leader urges calm after clashes in disputed north

  • Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday
  • The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation

MOGADISHU: Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has urged troops from two rival provinces to halt their fire after heavy clashes in a disputed northern border region left several dead.
Tensions in the unrecognized breakaway northern state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali state of Puntland erupted into violence Thursday around the border town of Tukaraq in Sool, a disputed desert region claimed by both sides.
“I want to send a plea to the Somalis who are shedding blood in Tukaraq town: I call for an urgent cessation of fire and an end to the bloodshed,” said the president at a mosque on Friday.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the violence without confirming any casualties, although one local elder said troops from both camps had been killed.
“More than 20 soldiers from the two sides died in the clashes and many more were wounded,” Mohamed Hajji Jama told AFP on Friday.
“There is still military tension.”
“The situation is calm now and both forces from the two regions are in their original positions,” said Abdirahman Osman, an elder in another nearby village.
The clashes erupted after a major storm brought strong winds and flash flooding to Puntland and Somaliland as well as other areas of the Horn of Africa nation, killing at least 21 people, figures provided by the UN’s OCHA humanitarian arm show.
Fighting had also broken out just before the storm, on May 15, in what local elders said were the heaviest clashes in months, saying unconfirmed reports put the death toll at nearly 30 dead.
According to OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian arm, the bloodshed forced around 10,000 people out of their homes, most of them women and children, and “further (complicated) an already complex humanitarian picture.”