Asian diplomats briefed on MERS safety measures

Updated 23 September 2013
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Asian diplomats briefed on MERS safety measures

Representatives of various Asian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom, worried over the spread of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), met with officials of the Ministry of Health recently to specifically check on safety measures being adopted to contain the virus.
The meeting comes in the wake of Asian medical professionals working at local hospitals being infected with the virus, including a Filipino nurse.
Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani, health ministry spokesman, said Asian diplomats were assured that safety measures were in place at Saudi hospitals.
Scientists and health experts have called for watchful surveillance and vigilance to contain the disease.
Scientists said genetic analysis of samples of the MERS virus that had killed 58 people in the Middle East and Europe shows the disease has jumped from animals to humans several times.
“Our findings suggest that different lineages of the virus have originated from the virus jumping across to humans from an animal source a number of times,” said Paul Kellam, a professor of viral pathogenesis at Britain’s Sanger Institute and University College London (UCL), who led the research, told Reuters.
Dr. Ziad Al-Memish, undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health and one of the researchers on this study, said pinning down the animal source or sources would be critical in allowing health authorities to get on top of the outbreak.


126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago
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126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

DHAKA: The last Hajj flights from Bangladesh will leave for Saudi Arabia this morning.
About 125,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims have already reached the holy city Makkah, on special flights operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines
(Saudia).
The two operators will take the last batch of 1,400 pilgrims from Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, after which the Hajj flights will be closed until Aug. 27.
The Bangladesh government has made extensive efforts to cooperate with the Kingdom in arranging travel plans for pilgrims, said officials in Dhaka.
“Our Ministry of Religious Affairs is highly concerned about the well-being of the pilgrims,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office in Dhaka, told Arab News.
“About 250 Bangladesh officials, including the staff of the Bangladesh mission in Saudi Arabia, have been deployed at places that the pilgrims will visit while performing the rituals of Hajj,” he told Arab News.
Most of the staff of the Religious Affairs Ministry have been sent to Saudi Arabia to assist Bangladeshi pilgrims and provide them with emergency support, Islam said.
“Three medical camps have been established in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah with 30 doctors and nurses to cater to pilgrims’ medical needs. In case of emergency, arrangements have been made to move a pilgrim in critical condition to specialized local hospitals,” he added.
“This year, so far, everything is under control and running very smoothly,” said M. Shahadat Hossain Taslim, secretary-general of the Hajj Agencies Association of Banglaesh (HAAB).
Speaking to Arab News from Makkah, Taslim expressed his gratitude to the Hajj Ministry of Saudi Arabia for its “better Hajj management this year.”
“Last year, many Bangladeshi pilgrims faced difficulty due to lack of transport in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah,” he said. “But this year, we have addressed the issue well ahead of time and are not facing any problem in this regard.”
Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well, he added.
A total of 126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj this year.
The Hajj flights from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia will be closed after Friday and resume on Aug. 27 to bring the pilgrims back home.