Saudi Arabia will open a new medical centre in Makkah to provide quick and efficient medical services to thousands who will visit the region for the seasonal Umrah pilgrimage, a senior public health official said.

The new centre, to open on 21 August, will have a 20-bed intensive care unit, a 20-bed emergency ward with a women’s section and an ICU for cardiovascular patients, The Saudi Gazette reports.

The increasing number of H1N1 influenza cases in the country means that the government is taking measures to treat pandemic cases during the pilgrimage, the news agency reports.