Saudi health workers overjoyed at being chosen to undertake Hajj
Saudi health workers are brimming with excitement after the kingdom announced some staff will be selected to undertake this year’s limited Hajj.
Last week, the government announced only 1,000 people would be allowed to perform Hajj this year because of the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases worldwide. Later, it was confirmed the lucky few would be chosen from among Saudi healthcare workers and security personnel who had worked on the front lines during the health crisis.
Doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and facilities and food service teams at various private and government hospitals told
The National they were proud and happy with the government’s gesture to acknowledge the work of heroes on the front line against Covid-19.
Dr Zeyed Helmy, a dermatologist at King Fahad General Hospital, heard he had been selected by the health ministry on Monday, a welcome reward after a difficult few months.
Dr Helmy contracted coronavirus in May after coming into contact with Covid-19 patients. He recovered and swiftly returned to work, resolved to work harder and longer to help those suffering.
“I was so happy when I received the call and to be part of this year’s Hajj delegation after what I have been through, it is so great,” Dr Helmy said.
“Our doctors, nurses, and other staff on the front lines of this unprecedented healthcare crisis really appreciate the outpouring of support from our government, and we look forward to taking advantage of these well-earned rewards.”
Dr Helmy said the first thing he will do when he gets to Makkah for his first Hajj is show his gratitude and thankfulness to Allah for his recovery, and pray for those who are suffering from the pandemic.
Dr Dina Qutb, an endodontist and head of the Covid-19 infection control team at King Fahad General Hospital said the government’s announcement was welcome recognition of medical workers’ role throughout the ongoing pandemic.
“We are extremely grateful to our government for this generous gift to our healthcare workers, who have been at the centre of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
Healthcare workers across the world have borne the brunt of the disease, with more than 2,000 deaths among them.
“We put our lives at risk to save the lives of our people,” Dr Qutb said.
“I have seen many doctors fall sick and be admitted to be put on ventilators and monitors, or worse, die. This has been the hardest thing to witness.”
Hala Tashkandi, a 32-yearold nurse working for a private hospital, is now back at work after contracting and recovering from the virus
“I have heard about the announcement by the Ministry of Hajj to allow only those working in the health field to perform Hajj this year,” she said. “I hope I can join them because I am eligible.”
Authorities said 70 per cent of the pilgrims will be foreigners residing in the kingdom while the remaining 30 per cent will be Saudis.