Dubai: Saudi Arabia has deployed a network of 100 hospitals and healthcare centres to enhance surveillance of respiratory infections, according to Dr. Abdullah Asiri, Assistant Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Health.
Dr. Asiri, an infectious diseases consultant at the Ministry of Health, outlined that the network comprises 30 hospitals and 70 primary healthcare centres.
These facilities are strategically distributed across different geographical and demographic areas in the kingdom. Their primary role will be to gather detailed data on respiratory infections, with a particular focus on severe cases.
A two-level examination of respiratory samples (swabs) is planned. The initial level will occur at the monitoring centres, where tests for influenza, coronavirus and respiratory syncytial virus will be conducted. The secondary, more comprehensive level of examination will take place at the Public Health Authority (Weqaya) laboratory. This stage will include testing for a broader range of pathogens, sub-classification of influenza strains, and genetic sequencing of the coronavirus.
Dr. Asiri expressed concern about a potential resurgence of respiratory infections to pre-COVID-19 levels, attributing this risk to lapses in preventive and precautionary measures.
He emphasised that the current spread is primarily of familiar viruses and bacteria, with no indications of new epidemic threats.
However, he stressed the ongoing need for vigilance and adherence to health guidelines to mitigate the risk of widespread infections.