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East Mediterr Health J ; 26(12): 1570-1575, 2020 Dec 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-995096


BACKGROUND: During the 2019 Hajj, the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia implemented for the first time a health early warning system for rapid detection and response to health threats. AIMS: This study aimed to describe the early warning findings at the Hajj to highlight the pattern of health risks and the potential benefits of the disease surveillance system. METHODS: Using syndromic surveillance and event-based surveillance data, the health early warning system generated automated alarms for public health events, triggered alerts for rapid epidemiological investigations and facilitated the monitoring of health events. RESULTS: During the deployment period (4 July-31 August 2019), a total of 121 automated alarms were generated, of which 2 events (heat-related illnesses and injuries/trauma) were confirmed by the response teams. CONCLUSION: The surveillance system potentially improved the timeliness and situational awareness for health events, including non-infectious threats. In the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic, a health early warning system could enhance case detection and facilitate monitoring of the disease geographical spread and the effectiveness of control measures.

COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Islam , Public Health Administration/methods , Public Health Surveillance/methods , Crowding , Health Planning/organization & administration , Humans , Mass Behavior , Mediterranean Region/epidemiology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Saudi Arabia/epidemiology , Sentinel Surveillance , Travel