Arafat to have lab for H1N1 screening

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RIYADH. November 7. KAZINFORM The Health Ministry is to set up a high-tech laboratory to check pilgrims for H1N1 virus at Arafat, said Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeah, Kazinform refers to Arab News.

"There is no need to worry or panic about this disease which is like any other seasonal flu. All necessary steps have been taken to deal with the infection," said Al-Rabeah while inspecting health facilities at the holy sites on Friday.

"A special feature of the hospitals, which are equipped with advanced medical apparatus, is that they could be converted into intensive care units if the need arises," he added.

He said that health centers have also been opened at the pilgrims' city in Jeddah where a new 100-bed hospital has been opened.

Al-Rabeah also visited health centers in Arafat and a new 219-bed hospital that was built in Mina. There are 15 clinics in Mina with a total capacity of 140 beds. In Makkah, there are some 100 clinics with 1,000 beds to serve pilgrims. A fleet of over 150 ambulances, including 85 small vehicles, have also been deployed.

The service, "Health of the Guests of God," is mainly aimed at preventing swine flu and will be formally launched in the presence of senior ministry officials at its call center in Riyadh.

The program is handled by a group of Saudi women who work at the ministry and its hospitals in Riyadh. Abu Al-Jedaie said a similar program during Ramadan was a massive hit.

Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Al-Mirghalani, who is overseeing the program, told Arab News that the project was mainly aimed at local pilgrims and would benefit families the most, Kazinform cites Arab News. See www.arabnews.com for full version.

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