30 July 2020 06:44
This year, for the first time in modern history, Saudi officials have drastically restricted the number of pilgrims allowed to participate and enforced strict new health measures. But despite the pandemic, many pilgrims said they felt safer joining a limited number of fellow faithful for the hajj as the risk of both infection and logistical upsets was limited. Several health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances were on hand, the ministry added, available to pilgrims who were required to wear masks and maintain social distance. Saudi officials had initially said just 1,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom would be permitted to participate, but local media reports say as many as 10,000 will join in. "This year's hajj was a good opportunity for the Saudi authorities to learn about the effects and importance of wearing a mask in curbing the spread of diseases among pilgrims," infectious diseases doctor Ghanem al-Hujailan told AFP.
A PUB has been closed down after ten coronavirus cases were confirmed among drinkers, leading to fears that many more may be infected. Hundreds of customers were filmed crammed into a beer garden at the Crown and Anchor in Stone, Staffordshire, on one of its busiest nights since reopening after lockdown. Health officials urged everyone who visited the pub over the weekend of July 16, 17 and 18 to have a test as they attempt to prevent a local outbreak. One of the people confirmed to have Covid-19 is thought to have separately attended another private gathering, causing a further spread. Dr Richard Harling, director of health at Staffordshire county council, said: 'It is important that anyone drinking or working in the pub on that weekend gets tested as soon as possible.
One individual who tested positive from the pub then attended a private social gathering, further spreading the virus, Staffordshire County Council said. The pub said on Facebook that it had since taken the decision to temporarily close "due to the overwhelming amount of people visiting". The post added that the pub was reviewing its risk assessment "to deal with the difficulty that we faced with social distancing", but was planning to reopen this weekend. Following the outbreak, a walk-in centre for people without Covid-19 symptoms opened in a car park for the first time today, and was due to open again on Friday, from 10am until 5pm. "We also want people who have been in close contact with anyone drinking in the pub on that weekend to get themselves tested, as well as people who were out and about in the town and are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms - namely a high temperature, new persistent cough or loss of taste and smell.
One individual with a positive result attended a private social gathering, further spreading the virus, Staffordshire County Council said. View photos People walk past the Crown and Anchor pub following the outbreak. Dr Richard Harling, director of public health at Staffordshire County Council, said people who had COVID-19 at the pub could still be infectious. "We have decided to close this weekend to be able to review our risk assessment in order to deal with the difficulty that we faced with social distancing," it wrote. Drinkers who visited a pub in Staffordshire earlier this month have been urged to get tested for coronavirus after an outbreak linked to the premises. Anyone who was working or drinking at the Crown & Anchor in Stone on 16, 17 and 18 July is being told to get tested for COVID-19 following the confirmation of 10 positive cases. Hundreds of people are reported to have turned up to a coronavirus walk-in centre in the town on Wednesday in the wake of the outbreak. Image: People queue up for coronavirus tests in Stone following the outbreak Staffordshire County Council said an individual who tested positive from the pub then went to a private social gathering, further spreading the virus. In a post on Facebook, the pub said it had decided to temporarily close "due to the overwhelming amount of people visiting". It is reviewing its risk assessment "to deal with the difficulty that we faced with social distancing" - but plans to reopen this weekend. A walk-in centre for those without coronavirus symptoms opened in the Crown Street car park on Wednesday. No appointment is required and the tests are free - but people are being asked to try and space out their visits. A resident who did not want to give their name described queues of people for tests, adding: "Hundreds of people have already been down there, and it only opened this morning." Dr Richard Harling, director for public health at the county council, said: "As part of our outbreak-control duties, we are dealing with an outbreak at the Crown & Anchor pub in Stone. "It is important that anyone drinking or working in the pub on that weekend gets tested as soon as possible, which is why we've organised for a mobile testing unit to be in the town all day Wednesday and Friday." He added: "We also want people who have been in close contact with anyone drinking in the pub on that weekend to get themselves tested, as well as people who were out and about in the town and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms - namely a high temperature, new persistent cough or loss of taste and smell. "By getting tested, this gives us important information on the full extent of any outbreak, and allows us to put measures in place if needed to help prevent the spread of infection. "Residents can help by continuing to follow the rules to stop the spread of COVID-19 - washing hands regularly, keeping your distance and wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport." Speaking to the BBC, Dr Harling said "not very much was known" about the private social gathering that spread the virus further. He said: "It does appear that one of the people who caught the infection at the Crown & Anchor was then at a private event where there was further transmission of the infection. Stafford Borough Council, which administers the pub's licence, said there is a "possibility" that it could be reviewed "in due course".