Saudi health work­ers over­joyed at be­ing cho­sen to un­der­take Hajj

The National - News - - NEWS | CORONAVIRU­S - SALEH FAREED Jed­dah

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.

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