Arab News – The Ministry of Health (MoH) has increased the number of countries endemic with the Zika virus to 64; the previous list included approximately 45 countries.

The ministry emphasized that travelers going to and from some of these countries should comply with a new set of instructions in order to not introduce the virus into the Kingdom.
The ministry urged citizens and residents returning from countries such as Brazil and others infected with the Zika virus to thoroughly follow the preventive measures to stop the virus from entering the Kingdom.
In case of any symptoms, including high body temperature, skin rashes, joint and muscle pains, or redness of the eyes, on any person within two weeks of returning from travel to the affected countries, they should consult a doctor and must disclose the date of travel, the ministry said.
Also, the ministry said care must be taken to prevent mosquito bites, regardless of whether symptoms exist, for at least three weeks, mainly by using ointments or sprays available in pharmacies to repel mosquitos, as well as avoid sleeping in open spaces, and removing mosquito breeding places in and around the house, such as accumulated water in the basins of water plants and small pools.
The ministry called on male travellers returning from these countries to use condoms during sex for eight weeks, emphasizing the importance of consulting a physician about the need to increase this period if any symptoms are present, in addition to refraining from donating blood and blood products for four weeks after returning from travel, regardless of the presence of symptoms or not.
Meanwhile, the MoH has prepared 25 hospitals in the holy sites, four in Arafat, four in Mina, seven in Makkah, and nine in Madinah, in addition to the King Abdullah Medical City. The number of beds at all Haj sites amounts to about 5,000, including 500 beds for intensive care, 550 beds for emergency cases, in addition to a hospital situated near the Grand Mosque to receive emergency patients, who will be transferred to other hospitals in Makkah when the health situation of the patient stabilizes.
In addition, there are 155 permanent and seasonal health centers established at all Haj sites including 43 centers in Makkah, 78 at the holy sites, 46 at Arafat, six in Muzdalaifah, 26 in Mina, 18 health centers in Madinah, as well as 16 emergency health centers on the Jamarat Bridge and three advanced ambulatory centers on the premises of the Grand Mosque.
Along the sides of the train stations, 18 medical checkpoints were established including six at Arafat, six at Muzdalaifah, and six at Mina.
The medical staff includes more than 800 visiting doctors and nurses of various health specialties from inside the Kingdom to boost the level of medical services provided at the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah. The health specialties include intensive care, cardiac and renal, endoscopy, and infectious diseases for the Haj season 1437.

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