17 bus drivers barred from serving pilgrims

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MAKKAH: Undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for laboratories and blood banks Dr. Ibrahim Al-Omar revealed that 17 bus drivers were removed from pilgrim transport operations after their medical tests showed positive signs of taking banned substances. 
The Health Ministry, with the participation of the center for monitoring legal-medical toxic and chemical substances in Makkah and Madinah, along with Makkah governorate and the Haj Bus Syndicate, apply the substance detection program called “Yaqith-alert” to ensure that drivers are not taking any mind-altering substances that might endanger the safety and lives of pilgrims. 
Random tests were carried out on bus drivers, and any driver with a positive result was immediately removed from transport operations.
Al-Omar disclosed this information during a press conference held in Mina. He said: “The number of cases that were subjected to the tests since 1/11 to 5/12/1436 amounted to 6,103 of which 17 cases were found with positive results.” 
He added that during the last Haj the number of cases that were subjected to the tests amounted to 12,459, of which 49 cases showed positive results, with the cases involving 43 foreign drivers and six Saudis. 
Al-Omar said the Health Ministry began preparing for the Haj this year since the last day of the last year’s Haj. He pointed out that the laboratories and blood banks committee put in place a plan consisting of three stages.
“These stages include the preparation phase which started at the end of the last Haj season; then came the processing phase; and finally the operational phase which began on 15/11/1436.”
He stressed that the Kingdom currently does not need to import blood with the availability of abundant quantities and the community’s positive interaction with blood donations in general.
“Importing blood from abroad was stopped decades ago by a royal decision for precautionary reasons,” he explained. 
He said the estimated reserved of blood available in the Kingdom amounts to more than 10 percent of the required quantities and takes into account the number of pilgrims and the expected need for blood.
Giving further details on the manpower working in the laboratories and blood banks, and toxic centers he said: “A total workforce of 687 employees of doctors and specialists and qualified technicians are currently working at 13 hospitals in Mina, Arafat and Makkah, in addition to the health center on Almushat Road. 
Within its comprehensive plan to monitor and combat corona virus, the Ministry of Health prepared three laboratories including the movable laboratory at East Arafat Hospital, the regional laboratory in Makkah, and the regional laboratory in Jeddah, said Al-Omar.
He said the ministry is in the process of providing another two movable laboratories to use across the different regions of the Kingdom, to add to the already existing laboratories. He also said the ministry provided specialists to work around the clock in theses laboratories to detect infectious diseases.‎(Arab News)

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