(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday advised citizens and residents, especially patients with asthma or chest infections, not to expose themselves to the droughty environment that has occurred due to the current transitional weather conditions in the Kingdom.
The ministry has also opened its clinics on a 24-hour basis to attend to patients who suffer such conditions in the central, Eastern provinces and other affected areas in the Kingdom.
Riyadh was blanketed with dust from 4 a.m. yesterday and huge traffic ensued the morning after due to a lack of visibility. According to a motorist, the visibility only reached a distance of 10 meters.
The ministry sent out circulars to all 20 regional directors of health in the Kingdom to take special care of patients who come for treatment for diseases such as asthma, rhinitis, chest infections and eye infections.
An official from the MoH said health officials, as well as members of the public should keep up-to-date with the weather forecasts made by the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and act accordingly.
The official said the preventive medicine department has launched an awareness campaign to control infection caused by the changing weather conditions.
"Such infection could be prevented provided the susceptible hosts for these allergens stay indoors during inclement weather," the official noted.
He added that the Health Education Department at the ministry carries out a campaign targeting a large number of people who tend to fall victim to changing weather conditions throughout the Kingdom.
Besides taking outdoor precautions, he said people must pay attention to personal hygiene such as washing their hands and face when they walk into their houses.
"The house also should be airtight so that dust cannot penetrate into the apartments and people should ensure blankets and mattresses are free of dust," he noted.
The ministry had also advised all its health institutions to treat all walk-in patients who suffer from respiratory diseases on a 24-hour basis.
The ministry has more than 2,000 Public Healthcare Centers supported with major hospitals and government clinics in all parts of the Kingdom.
Dr. Bakry Mackeen , private medical practitioner at the Sun City Polyclinic in Batha told Arab News that a large number of patients reported following the sandstorm yesterday in Riyadh.
"We witness the influx of such patients not only during dust storms but also immediately after a rainfall following a long drought," Dr. Mackeen said, advising asthma patients to carry their inhalers in hand so that they can make use of them promptly when they get an asthmatic attack. It is advisable for these patients to meet their doctors and get early treatment to avoid unwanted complications, he concluded.
According to PME weather forecast issued for the next 24 hours from 6 a.m. yesterday, the dusty weather condition would spread from the north to the East and central parts of the Kingdom, which would include Tabuk, Jouf, the northern border, Qassim, Hail and extends up to the Riyadh region.
Sky would be partly cloudy with increasing dust storms curtailing the visibility, the report said, adding that chances of rains are likely in Riyadh region and also in the Eastern Province including Dammam, Dhahran, Al Khobar and Hafr Al-Batain.