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Saudi Arabia registers 1,301 pilgrim deaths during Haj

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Riyadh, June 24: Saudi Arabia has announced that it recorded 1,301 deaths among pilgrims during the Haj season, 83 per cent of whom were unregistered individuals. The Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel said on Sunday that the kingdom’s healthcare sector addressed “numerous” heat stress cases, with some individuals still in medical care, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

“Among the deceased were several elderly and chronically ill individuals,” the minister said, indicating that the heat affected unregistered pilgrims most as they had walked long distances under direct sunlight without adequate shelter or comfort. All victims have been identified and their families notified, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents.

Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and the issuance of death certificates, he added. Al-Jalajel praised efforts made by the competent authorities to raise heat stress awareness and preparedness among pilgrims facing high temperatures, as well as the support by first responders and the Haj security forces in handling heat stress cases, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Saudi Press Agency.

He declared health management during the past Haj season was a success, “with no recorded outbreaks of epidemics or widespread diseases”. Notably, the health system provided over 465,000 specialized treatment services ranging from emergency care and surgeries to dialysis, including 141,000 services to those who didn’t obtain official authorization to perform Haj.

Approximately 1.3 million preventive services were delivered, including early detection, vaccinations, and medical care upon arrival.

IANS

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