Coronavirus nasal swab test: is it really painful?

Coronavirus nasal swab test: is it really painful?
Health workers perform nose swab tests during a drive through coronavirus test campaign held in Diriyah hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 7, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 11 May 2020

Coronavirus nasal swab test: is it really painful?

Coronavirus nasal swab test: is it really painful?
  • The nasal swab is a wooden or plastic stick that is inserted into the patient’s nose to reach the nasopharynx area

RIYADH: While different diagnostic tests can be used to identify the coronavirus, health authorities have been taking nasopharyngeal swabs of suspected sufferers to detect early cases — but many fear the pain and discomfort of the process.

Coronavirus testing could be the key to returning to life as usual. A number of videos are circulating on social media showing how the nasal swab procedure is done but many are put off by patient responses.

The test, a nasopharyngeal swab or culture, is a common procedure to diagnose upper respiratory tract infections.

A health care worker gently inserts what looks like a long Q-tip into a person’s nose, twirls the swab to get a sample and places it in a vial. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis.

According to a spokesman from the Ministry of Health, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a person undergoing a swab test will feel discomfort and will have the urge to sneeze or cough. That sensation disappears immediately after the completion of the process and the person can resume his life normally without feeling any pain.

Dr. Fadwa Al-Ofi, an infectious diseases consultant, told Arab News about her experience while taking nasal swab tests from patients, explaining that it only took a few seconds.

“The nasal swab is a wooden or plastic stick that is inserted into the patient’s nose to reach the nasopharynx area. I didn’t try it myself, but according to the patients’ description, there is a slight pain or a feeling that you’re about to sneeze,” she said.

She said that the pain threshold differs from one person to the next but the procedure only takes a few seconds.

Dr. Afrah Al-Somali, who works at the King Abdulla Medical Complex in Jeddah, said that the Ministry of Health provides doctors with nasal swabs daily. On a normal day, one doctor takes between 20 to 30 swabs.

She said that patients had been helpful and understood the importance of the test even though it could cause irritation. She said that patients were not intimidated or nervous as doctors wore face shields to protect themselves while taking the swab test in case someone sneezed or coughed.

Khuloud Mullah, director of the diplomatic list at the Department of Diplomatic Affairs, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is now recovering, told Arab News that the nasal swab was very irritating: “I have taken eight nasal swabs so far since the diagnosis.”

“It depends on the skill of the doctor,” Mullah said. “In many cases the pain is tolerable or mild, and in others the lack of experience may cause pain. I only felt pain once and it lasted for 15 minutes. I guess it was because the nurse was in a hurry when she took the swab,” Mullah said.

Mullah said that it did not matter if the swab was inserted gently or slowly or quickly; it was an important process with temporary discomfort.

 


Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free
Updated 1 min 56 sec ago

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free
  • Part of efforts to expand the ongoing inoculation campaign

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia will provide coronavirus vaccines at pharmacies across the kingdom for free, the country’s Minister of Health Dr. Tawfik Al-Rabiah told Al Arabiya.

This comes as part of efforts to expand the ongoing inoculation campaign and facilitate access to vaccine cites, he added. More 100 vaccination facilities have opened around the country since Saudi Arabia began its nationwide vaccination campaign on December 17.

Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority is currently evaluating a number of COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to expand the vaccination process in various regions of the Kingdom, which are taking place at a high rate.

The Ministry of Health indicated that the vaccines currently approved in Saudi Arabia or those currently being evaluated are approved for use starting from the age of 16 or 18 years.

Saudi Arabia has announced on Tuesday plans to expand vaccination centers across the Kingdom, health spokesman Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

However, pregnant women and children will still not be permitted to receive the coronavirus vaccine as further studies have not been completed yet, Al-Aly added.

The Minister of Health also announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be a pre-requisite for applicants wishing to perform the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj, in 2021.

 

“A vaccination committee must be formed for the Hajj and Umrah season, on which they have adopted the compulsory reception of the COVID-19 vaccine for participating healthcare workers,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has recently launched drive-through vaccine centers in Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah and Abha. Individuals wishing to receive the jab must first register through the official Sehatty app.

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Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app
Updated 03 March 2021

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app
  • Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections

RIYADH: Coronavirus cases in Madinah region were down by more than 86 percent due to the strict implementation of precautionary and preventive health measures as well as the effective use of the Tawakkalna app.

Combating the spread of COVID-19 in Madinah “through digital applications and artificial intelligence proved to be one of the most successful approaches both regionally and globally,” Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said in a report from state news agency SPA.

Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections. It has since developed and been updated and now functions as a COVID-19 ‘passport’ where users are required to confirm their health condition through the app to enter workplaces, shops and malls.

It has effectively contributed, in less than two months, to limiting factors that caused accelerated spread within the region, Dr. Al-Abdulaali said.

Dr. Al-Abdulaali noted that Madinah region was going through a critical period in which the number of infected cases was significantly increasing.

“This came as a result of some public negligence in observing the preventive measures and precautions; particularly, the lack of adherence to quarantine in addition to social gatherings,” the SPA report added, which had led into an alarming increase in the number of daily cases and warranted the rollout of the Tawakkalna app.

Following two months strict preventive measures and the promotion of use of Tawakkalna, infections number of cases in Madinah decreased significantly.

Dr. Al-Abdulaali likewise urged the implementation of the precautionary and preventive health measures in all regions as a ‘collective community response and a higher commitment to preventive measures in light of the increasing number of recorded daily infections.’

The health official also encouraged citizens and residents to download and activate Tabaud, a bluetooth-based app that notifies individuals if they come in contact with other infected individuals.

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Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 03 March 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition fighting the Houthi militants in Yemen said it has destroyed a drone launched by the Iran-backed group towards the southern region of the kingdom, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.
“The joint coalition forces were able this morning to intercept and destroy a ‘booby-trapped’ drone launched by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” the statement said.

 


Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
  • Ministers also briefed on King Salman’s recent call with US President Joe Biden, and the latest COVID-19 developments

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have again condemned the continuing cross-border attacks on the Kingdom by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

The comments came on Tuesday, during the weekly meeting of the Saudi cabinet chaired by King Salman. The latest Houthi assault took place earlier in the day and left five civilians injured.

“The council appreciated the efficiency of the air-defense system in confronting and thwarting the threats made by the Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia, and its violations of international laws by launching ballistic missiles and drones at civilians and civilian objects in the Kingdom in a deliberate and systematic manner,” said Minister of Information Majid Al-Qasabi.

The cabinet was also briefed on King Salman’s telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden last Thursday, during which both sides stressed the depth of the relationship between the two countries, and the importance of strengthening the partnership to serve their interests and achieve regional and international security and stability.

The Council of Ministers hailed a second consecutive year of progress made by the Kingdom in the Women, Business and the Law 2021 report recently published by the World Bank Group, which ranked Saudi Arabia among the leading countries in the MENA region for empowerment of women.

Initiatives implemented as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 have helped to support the introduction of legislative reforms designed to enhance and expand the role of women in the economic development of the nation, and make the Kingdom more competitive regionally and globally, the cabinet said.

Ministers were briefed on the latest developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and reviewed reports from new vaccination centers that have opened in several regions, Al-Qasabi told the Saudi Press Agency.

The cabinet also congratulated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the successful surgery he underwent last week, wishing him health and wellness.

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Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
An undated photo of Yahya Hamza Koshak, who died at the age of 80. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
  • Yahya Hamza Koshak was considered an authority on the architecture and history of the ancient site

JEDDAH: Saudis on Tuesday were mourning the loss of Yahya Hamza Koshak following his death at the age of 80. An engineer by profession, he became famous for his services to the Zamzam well.

Koshak, also known as the “father of engineers,” was a former director general of the National Water Company and member of the Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
He was born in Makkah, where his father, a merchant, worked during the Umrah season, serving as chairman of the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkish Muslims of Europe America and Australia.
His mother was a close friend of the wife of the late King Faisal, Princess Effat, whom she met at the Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools after it was founded by King Faisal and Princess Effat.
He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh. He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.
His nephew Nabeel Koshak told Arab News that the late engineer was dear to those who worked with him.

FASTFACTS

• Yahya Hamza Koshak was born in Makkah.

• Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools.

• He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh.

• He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.

• He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago.

• Koshak wrote a book, ‘Zamzam: The Holy Water,’ in which he recorded his observations inside the well.

“He was very social, close to people, and always kind and did not like to hurt anyone. He was light hearted — these were the characteristics that distinguished his personality.”
Koshak “was like a father to me,” and the family remained proud that he earned the trust of the Kingdom’s leadership, his nephew said.
“He greeted and received the king every year during the last 10 days of Ramadan.”
Koshak held a number of government positions in Makkah over a long career, including undersecretary for technical affairs at the Makkah Municipality.
He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago and wrote a book, “Zamzam: The Holy Water,” in which he recorded his observations inside the well.
“Cleaning the Zamzam well was one of his most important projects, a huge task under the direction of the late King Khalid,” his nephew said.
In his book, Koshak outlined the history of the well and its water sources, and also documented the archaeological objects found during the cleaning project.
The late engineer said: “By observation, it became clear that there are only two main sources of water, one toward the Kaaba, and the other toward Ajyad. As for the third source, which historical narratives said is on the side of Jabal Abu Qubays and Al-Safa, I found instead 12 small holes between building stones.”
Koshak’s interests included alternative medicine, which led to him establishing a specialist center in Jeddah.