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MERS- CoV threat to Hajj pilgrims must be taken seriously

MERS-CoronavirusHealth experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK, a national Hajj specific organisation, express their concern of continuously reported cases of MERS Coronavirus in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Hajj pilgrimage is round the corner and over 3 million pilgrims from around the world would be mingling in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in order to perform their pilgrimage in few weeks time.

It has been reported that during last week, a 73-year-old woman died and four men were infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Coronavirus bringing the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 1,082.

Since June 2012, the MERS cases resulted in 473 deaths and twenty-two patients are currently being treated in hospitals throughout the Kingdom.

Health experts stress the prospective pilgrims that they must follow the vital guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which states that specific emphasis should be placed on hand hygieneand respiratory hygiene covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands after coughing and sneezing, and trying to keep a distance, where possible with suspected infected person. Always follow good food-safety practices, such as avoiding undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and properly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them.

According to further guidelines of WHO, if any pilgrim develops a significant acute respiratory illness with fever and cough during their performance of pilgrimage, they should seek medical assistance without any delay. Infected pilgrims must avoid attending crowded places and preferably isolate themselves until the end of the respiratory symptoms and, if isolation is not possible, use a tissue for covering nose and mouth or a surgical mask when in crowded places.

Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj(Pilgrims) UK  strongly urge that all the relevant authorities to make every effort to implement the directives issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which they are required to raise awareness amongst the prospective pilgrims of the risks of contracting the deadly and lethal infectious diseases including MERS. This awareness is extremely important not only to protect the pilgrims, but also to eliminate the risk of the spread of these deadly infectious diseases worldwide, once the pilgrims return back to their countries.

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