Umrah Pilgrims Appeal for Regular MERS-CoV Updates

Umrah pilgrims are asking health authorities particularly in Saudi Arabia to continuously update them with the latest on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), citing their vulnerability to the disease.

“They (pilgrims) strongly urge all the relevant authorities that vulnerable pilgrims must not be deprived off vital life-saving information about the preventive measures and how they should safeguard their health and wellbeing,” according to a statement by the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims).

The group noted that lack of awareness of preventive measures against MERS-CoV will make “a vast majority of pilgrims” at high risk of contracting it.

Citing the Ministry of Health, the group said Saudi Arabia has reported 34 MERS-CoV cases this week, bringing to 46 the total number of new patients for the month.

According to the World Health Organization, since June 2012 the causalities have reached 886, including 483 deaths.

“Pilgrims have always been at high risk of contracting infectious diseases due to their close proximity with millions of people from around the world during the pilgrimage,” noted the Association of British Hujjaj.

It added that unlike Hajj, Umrah—a lesser pilgrimage— is performed throughout the year by millions of pilgrims from around the world.

“Health experts stress that prolonged contact with infected individuals within confined space, facilitates the spread of deadly infectious diseases, which are transmitted through direct person-to-person contact via droplets of nasal or throat secretions as well as blood and body fluids of infected individuals,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia once again reminded Filipinos in the Kingdom, especially those working in the health sector, to take the necessary precautions against the MERS-CoV.

It also appealed to Filipinos there to postpone their planned visit to the Philippines if they have MERS-CoV symptoms.

“Mas mainam rin, na ipagpaliban muna ang pag-uwi sa Pilipinas kung kayo ay nakakaramdam ng mga sintomas upang maiwasan ang panganib na mahawaan ang inyong mga pamilya at kaibigan,” a statement from the embassy said.

A Filipino nurse from Saudi Arabia has been the first confirmed MERS-CoV patient in the Philippines.

(Source: KBK, GMA News)

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