Expats guard against coronavirus

Updated 28 April 2014
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Expats guard against coronavirus

Indian and Sri Lankan missions have launched extensive awareness campaigns and alerts among their nationals about the rapidly spreading Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Sri Lanka has alerted its missions in the Middle East to take precautionary measures among its expatriates in the region.
Mangala Randeniya, spokesman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), told Arab News from Colombo that the bureau has alerted all its overseas missions about the deadly virus.
“Even though not a single Sri Lankan has been affected so far, we, as a government, are tasked with alerting our overseas workers,” Randeniya said.
There are 1.5 million Sri Lankans living in the Middle East and nearly one third of them are in the Kingdom, he said.
“Colombo International Airport has been alerted to take note of any arriving passenger suspected to be infected with the coronavirus,” he said. “Our SLBFE desk at the airport will identify such incoming passengers and provide them with immediate medical treatment.”
Paba Palihawadana, chief epidemiologist at the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, said the authorities have put in place a mechanism to create awareness among community members. “There are educational programs conducted through the Bureau of Foreign Employment, travel agencies and Sri Lankan embassies to ensure that travelers and workers to the region are aware of the risks,” she said.
The Indian Social Forum in Jeddah (ISFJ) has launched a coronavirus awareness campaign to raise public understanding about the virus among its nationals. The forum organized a series of camps in Jeddah and other parts of Western Province with the support of the Ministry of Health.
Acting Indian Consul General Mohammed Shaikh inaugurated the campaign on Friday.
Muneera Balahmar, director of health education and community medicine consultant at the Health Ministry, gave a detailed overview about the virus and ways to prevent its spread.
Forum President Ashraf Morayur said the campaign would focus on areas of large gatherings in Jeddah, a port of arrival for thousands of pilgrims.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 1 min 58 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.