No Haj visas for old and sick

Updated 13 July 2013
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No Haj visas for old and sick

To prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases will not get Haj visas this year, the Ministry of Health announced here yesterday.
“This new rule will be applicable to the forthcoming Haj and the subsequent Umrah seasons,” Health Ministry spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News yesterday. He said Saudi missions abroad would be following the strict instructions of the Health Ministry sent to it by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Haj and Umrah visas will not be issued by Saudi missions to elderly pilgrims and those suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes and other illnesses involving the heart, kidneys and the respiratory system.
Others excluded are patients with immune deficiencies, terminal malignant diseases, pregnant women and children, the spokesman said.
Al-Mirghalani did not stipulate an age limit but said the elderly who are feeble and medically unfit to travel would not be considered for pilgrimage visas.
The new coronavirus has affected 66 people, which included 38 deaths since September last year in the Kingdom. The ministry has taken all preventive measures to combat the spread of the disease with the help of local and international medical experts including officials from the World Health Organization.
In addition to these requirements, he said the ministry had spelt out the quarantine regulations of the Kingdom. They include a valid certificate of vaccination against meningitis 10 days before the departure of pilgrims to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, and for polio vaccinations by pilgrims hailing from countries where the disease is prevalent.
There is also an optional requirement for vaccination against influenza as a precaution against flu attacks, he added.
He said the ministry is insisting on pilgrims having proper personal hygiene. They should also ensure hygienic cooking, storing, transporting and serving methods to avoid diarrhea, vomiting, food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid and cholera.
“Hands should be washed before eating. Disposable shaving kits should be used.”
Wearing masks made of cloth during the performance of various Haj rituals will be very useful in preventing respiratory infections such as colds, coughs, sore throats and pneumonia.
This year, the ministry is focusing on preventing food poisoning. Pilgrims have been asked not to keep their cooked food for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning. They should also wash fruits and green leaves before consumption. Meat and vegetables should not be washed together when preparing to cook.
Other health tips include covering their mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing and to not spit in the streets.
Saudi missions abroad will begin issuing Haj visas at the end of Ramadan.


Citizen rewarded after new car turned out to be used

Updated 12 min 26 sec ago
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Citizen rewarded after new car turned out to be used

RIYADH: A citizen from Buraidah has been rewarded by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) for complaining about a commercial fraud. He exposed an auto agency who sold him a “new car” which turned out to be second-hand with a chequered history.
The MCI granted a reward of SR25,000 to Hamad Faleh Al-Qahtani, who reported the fraud.
He bought a new car from the auto agency and made the full payment, but soon realized he had been given a second-hand car.
Not only was it used but it had also been in a crash and been repaired and repainted, which was contrary to what had been agreed upon and in violation of the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law. The ministry followed up the matter with investigations to find the truth and take legal action.
The matter was referred to the public prosecution and then to the Administrative Court in Buraidah, which issued the final verdict that the agency was guilty of violating the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law.
The agency was fined SR100,000 ($26,687). Article 11 of the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law states that anyone reporting a case of commercial fraud which is found to be true upon investigation shall be granted 25 percent of the value of the fine.
The MCI honors 100 informers by granting them financial rewards and gifts on World Consumer Rights Day, which is observed on March 15 every year to foster global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The day was inspired by US president John F. Kennedy, the first world leader to formally address the issue of consumer rights.
The consumer movement first marked that date in 1983 and uses it every year to mobilize action on important issues.
The MCI has urged consumers to report commercial frauds through the Consumer Call Center (1900), through the application of a commercial violation report and through the ministry’s website.