Special quarantine units for MERS patients urged

Updated 13 April 2014
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Special quarantine units for MERS patients urged

The Ministry of Health should launch special emergency procedures to stop the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus by setting up special quarantine facilities to treat suspected and infected people, says an expert.
“In light of the new outbreak of MERS cases we have to change the emergency plan and set up special camps to receive and isolate suspected cases,” said Mohammed Al-Harbi, a specialist at King Abdul Aziz Hospital, which saw the death of a male nurse from the virus.
Al-Harbi said the ministry has three options: To establish an isolation camp for all patients in one place; have isolation wards in every hospital; or set aside an entire hospital specifically to treat MERS cases.
“Taking suspected cases into hospitals in a haphazard manner will only lead to the spread of the disease,” he said.
He said MERS was initially found among the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases but was now affecting young people.
“This is a dangerous sign,” the specialist said.
His comments follow the announcement of new cases of MERS infections, despite the health ministry’s efforts to sterilize emergency wards at King Fahd and King Abdul Aziz hospitals in the city.
According to a local daily, the head of a medical department at King Fahd Hospital has been affected, while a Pakistani doctor suspected to have the virus has been reported at King Abdul Aziz Hospital.
It also reported the death of a 40-year-old Saudi man at a private hospital on Thursday, bringing the total number of MERS deaths to three in Jeddah and 67 in the Kingdom.
According to informed sources, the number of visitors to King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah declined by 55 percent after reports of people there infected with the virus.
Saudi nurses have meanwhile urged the Health Ministry to take steps to ensure their protection.
They said the ministry was biased toward doctors, ignoring their plight.
MBC’s “Bidun Shak” (Without Doubt) talk show hosted by Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi, editor in chief of Arab News, addressed the issue in its latest episode.
Speaking during the forum, Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said he supports nurses’ right to get compensation for dealing with MERS and other infectious diseases.
“I will take up the matter with relevant authorities to get your rights,” the minister said.
Khaled Mirghalani, spokesman of the ministry, said the King Fahd Hospital emergency ward has been reopened and all medical staff members had returned to work.
One Arabic daily, however, reported that there was a noticeable absence of staff after the head of a medical department became infected.
Deputy Health Minister Mohammad Khashim said the ministry has isolated six people that tested positive for the virus.
He said 90 percent of coronavirus carriers do not show symptoms, with only laboratory tests being able to make accurate diagnoses.
“All tested samples that came back positive have been published on the ministry’s website,” he said, stressing that the ministry’s preventive programs are linked to the World Health Organization.


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.