Riyadh: Md Rasooldeen | Arab News Staff
Monday 24 September 2012
Last Update 24 September 2012 1:48 am
A senior official from the Ministry of Health said yesterday that people should take extra precautions against a new form of the coronavirus, which was recently found in the Kingdom among some patients.
The virus was diagnosed in three people causing the death of two of them; the third is still undergoing treatment.
“There is no cause for alarm about the coronavirus. However, people should be aware of its presence and they should take preventive measures to keep the disease away from them,” Undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health Ziad Al-Memish told Arab News yesterday.
With the changing weather at this time of the year and the start of the Haj season, a new strain of coronavirus has been detected in three patients.
Coronaviruses are considered one of the common etiological agents of the common cold.
Al-Memish said the first case was a Saudi patient diagnosed in one of the hospitals in Jeddah; the second was also a Saudi patient and the third a patient from a GCC country. Two were diagnosed with the illness in London. Two patients died and the third is under treatment.
The official said coronaviruses are well known and most of the patients recover completely with no complications after receiving therapy. He pointed out that 95 percent of the patients recover quickly without complications.
The official said the symptoms of the virus include runny nose, general feeling of illness, mild sore throat, cough, headache, low fever and chills. It can also cause respiratory, intestinal and neurological illness. He advised people to contact their doctors if the symptoms continue for more than two days. Such patients should take Vitamin C as a remedial measure, he added.
“A few patients are infected with this novel strain; complications can develop affecting the respiratory system and the kidneys. It can cause death especially among the elderly and in patients with chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions and among immuno-compromised patients.”
The undersecretary said that such negative occurrences happen rarely and emphasized that there are no reasons for concern.
Human coronaviruses cause about 33 percent of cases of the “common cold.” Known human coronaviruses include human coronavirus, human enteric coronavirus and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus.
The official said people should be careful when they mingle in mass gatherings.
“It is advisable to wear masks in crowded places and change them frequently,” he said, adding that they also should pay special attention to personal hygiene, hand cleansing, and covering the mouth and nose while sneezing would help prevent the spread of the disease.
Al-Memish urged Umrah and Haj pilgrims to take necessary precautions and vaccines recommended by the government of Saudi Arabia. The Foreign Ministry has instructed all its missions abroad to issue entry visas to the kingdom provided the pilgrims comply with the quarantine regulations of the country.
Prior to the commencement of the Umrah and Haj season, the Foreign Ministry, on the advice of the Health Ministry, sent out circulars to all its embassies abroad indicating the quarantine requirements in the respective countries for the issuance of pilgrim visas.
Health Ministry spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News that the Kingdom has been carefully monitoring developments of instances of infectious diseases. He pointed out that the stipulated requirements in the new circular are in line with the World Health Organization’s requirements to control the spread of infectious diseases.
He said that the Kingdom this year has focused on yellow fever, meningitis, seasonal influenza, polio and food poisoning. He added that the stipulated vaccines should be given 10 days before the date of departure for the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.
“We have prescribed some vaccines considering the incidence of the disease in the respective countries.” He added that the ships and aircraft carrying pilgrims should also produce a certificate that the carriers are free of mosquitoes.
The spokesman affirmed that it will continue to monitor the situation locally, regionally and globally in close coordination with the departments concerned and the international health authorities.
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