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Senegal strengthens health control against Covid after deaths in Mecca

The Senegalese authorities have implemented voluntary Covid-19 screening tests and re-imposed screening tests for Covid-19. wearing a mask à the international airport at the arrival of the pilgrims after the death of many faithful at the time. Mecca, they indicated; Monday.

Authorities suspect that a number of deaths are caused by a respiratory syndrome disease like Covid-19, Health Minister Ibrahima Sy said on Sunday during a visit to the airport international of Diamniadio.

The minister cited the deaths in Mecca. “Initially, we thought it was linked to heat waves because the temperature was excessively high, but we realized that there is a respiratory syndrome with the cases of death,” he said. -he said according to a recording of his remarks broadcast by the media.

“We said to ourselves that, probably, there is a respiratory type epidemic”, said – he added.

The Ministry of Health indicated in a press release published Monday that it had “strengthened the health surveillance system at air borders” by deploying airport a team responsible for offering voluntary screening tests and identifying pilgrims presenting flu-like illnesses.

Senegal strengthens health control against Covid after deaths in Mecca

Rescuers carry a pilgrim affected by heat, in Mina, Saudi Arabia, June 16, 2024 © AFP – FADEL SENNA

Out of 124 rapid diagnostic tests, 78 were positive for the Covid-19 virus, including 36 subsequently confirmed by PCR tests, the reference technique for detecting infection, the ministry said.

“There is no need to be alarmed, but there is also a need for prevention”, said the minister on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia said Sunday that 1,301 people had died during the hajj. The official SPA news agency cited the fact that many faithful had undertaken the great annual Muslim pilgrimage without authorization, and traveled long distances in scorching heat and without appropriate accompaniment.

< p>– Endemic –

The daily newspaper l'Observateur reported five deaths among Senegalese pilgrims.

Some 12,000 Senegalese have been officially registered to perform the hajj. Their return takes place between the end of last week and the end of June or beginning of July.

Senegal strengthens health control against Covid after deaths in Mecca

Aerial view of Muslim pilgrims arriving for the symbolic ritual of the “stoning of Satan” during the hajj pilgrimage in Mina, near Mecca, on June 16, 2024 in Saudi Arabia © AFP – Fadel Senna

Senegal had implemented strict controls at the international airport against Covid-19 after the start of the pandemic four years ago. These measures have been lifted.

Since last weekend, the wearing of a mask has been required when pilgrims board, during the flight and after landing until baggage collection, Tidiane Tamba, public relations manager of the airport. This is valid for passengers traveling on aircraft specially chartered for the hajj, but also for travelers coming from Saudi Arabia on regular flights, he said.

The terminal reserved for pilgrimage is disinfected after arrivals, he said.

The ministry “calls on the population to be vigilant” . He recommends that Senegalese people close to infected people renounce the celebrations which traditionally give rise to the return from pilgrimage of one of them.

Charles Bernard Sagna, chief doctor of the airport health control service, explained to AFP that the alert was given when the Senegalese medical team based in Jeddah reported “a significant number of respiratory illnesses”.

“Since the end of (the international health emergency of) Covid, Covid remains endemic in Senegal, at low intensity. Our concern is to avoid the recovery”, he said.

His colleague Abdoulaye Bousso, who led emergency operations in the face of Covid, urged people to keep a cool head.

“Let's avoid creating a crisis that doesn't exist! Be careful of the stigmatization of pilgrims!”, he wrote on social networks.

“Every year after the hajj, hundreds of people return from Mecca with respiratory syndromes. Also hundreds of people die there every year. This will still be the case for the next few years,” he said, emphasizing the need for screening and awareness.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116