MERS, Hajj lead to Strengthening of Healthcare in Saudi Arabia
Reports of new MERS cases continue in Saudi Arabia, where earlier this week an estimated 2 million Muslims gathered on the road to Mecca to take part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage (CIDRAP, MOH). Over the last six months, the World Health Organization and the Government of Saudi Arabia have worked together to strengthen healthcare capacity in order to meet the challenges posed by the potential increase in health issues associated with large gatherings (WHO). WHO reports that in addition to permanent medical staff and healthcare facilities in the Makkah province, 25,000 health workers have been deployed and 8 hospitals (used only during the Hajj) have been opened.
Since 2012, WHO has been notified of more than 1,500 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS globally, with at least 551 deaths (as of September 17) (WHO). As reported by WHO, according to the Minister of Health of Saudi Arabia, “since the onset of the disease in 2012, there have not been any cases among hajj pilgrims, and we are working to keep it that way” (WHO/MOH).
This Week in Hazards
- As of September 24 (2100 UTC), Tropical Storm Dujuan (also known as Jenny in the Philippines) is located approximately 501 nautical miles south-southeast of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and kicking up waves of 18 feet (JTWC Warning #14). Dujuan developed into a tropical depression on September 21 west of the Mariana Islands, and began intensifying as it moved into the Philippine Sea on September 24 (ECHO). Dujuan is expected to continue strengthening, becoming a typhoon before making landfall in southeastern China next week (NASA/JTWC).
- Flooding caused by a dam break damaged nearly 4,400 houses and affected more than 21,600 people in Cambodia’s Kampot province (ECHO). Conditions have been exacerbated by heavy rainfall, and an estimated 2,300 hectares of agricultural land has been flooded (OCHA).
- Earthquake activity continued over the week, with ongoing reports of aftershocks in Chile, as well as a 6.6M earthquake that struck off the coast of Sorong, Indonesia, on September 24 (USGS). According to media reports, there were “no immediate reports of damage” following the quake in Indonesia (Reuters).
Current Hazard Warnings
Flood: West Africa, China (Southern), Pakistan (Southeast)
Storm: Cambodia, Vietnam
Wildfire: Canada (British Columbia), United States (Idaho, California, Washington, Oregon)
Earthquake: Chile, Indonesia
Drought: Caribbean Islands, Central America, United States (Western), Ethiopia
Biomedical: West Africa
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