RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel on Friday affirmed that the health status of pilgrims in Arafat is reassuring, stressing that health services are provided at full capacity in this Hajj season, the biggest pilgrimage since the coronavirus pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers two years in a row.
He pointed out that adherence to health requirements and raising awareness of the use of umbrellas is a helpful factor, disclosing that three cases of heatstroke were recorded among pilgrims.
Al-Jalajel affirmed that the ministry's early preparations and infrastructure readiness, in addition to applying requirements, early examination, monitoring and investigation processes have an effective factor in maintaining the health safety of pilgrims.
The Health Ministry, committed to protect pilgrims' health during the Hajj, is fully prepared to ensure health facilities of excellent standards.
Dr. Hani Jokhdar, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Public Health, who is also chairman of the Hajj Preparatory Committees, confirmed: "Control of epidemiological, communicable and infectious diseases is done according to a strict control system, designed to monitor and spot the first point of the disease through an early warning system that prompts speedy intervention and control its possible spread among pilgrim crowds under direct and round-the-clock leadership and control operation room, considered among the strongest and most efficient in this field in the world."
"The central operation room, based in the headquarters of the ministry is equipped with state-of-the-art means to control all activities run by health facilities operating in the sacred places, the holy capital of Makkah, Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah, Jeddah, Taif, and Al-Baha and provide necessary advice," said Dr. Jokhdar.
"This year, the ministry introduced the virtual medicine program using virtual clinics serving needy patients based outside Makkah," he said.
He pointed out that heat stress is the most popular complaint from pilgrims, followed by injuries, respiratory diseases, sun strokes, diabetes, blood pressure, and asthma.
He stated that this year the ministry has provided nine hospitals, including a field hospital and a mobile one, more than 1000 beds, 210 ICU beds, more than 175 beds for stroke-hit patients, 75 isolation rooms, 93 health centers in the sacred sites, as well as medical services for emergency and dangerous diseases, including heart diseases, to transfer them to specialized hospitals inside Makkah.
Earlier, Al-Jalajil has inspected hospitals and other health facilities in Makkah and the holy sites ahead of the Arafat day on Friday to ensure they are up to standard for the pilgrims.
Crowds in Ihram (white robed Muslim pilgrims) prayed on Mount Arafat in Makkah on Friday, the climax of the biggest Hajj pilgrimage since the coronavirus pandemic forced drastic cuts in numbers two years in a row.
Prayers on Mount Arafat, also known as the “Mount of Mercy,” are the highlight of the pilgrimage, capped this year at one million people including 850,000 from abroad after COVID19 greatly reduced numbers over 2020 and 2021.
Earlier, pilgrims had moved to the tent city og Mina on Thursday to perform their Hajj rites.