Ministry denies Haj age restrictions

Updated 18 May 2014
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Ministry denies Haj age restrictions

There has been no official age restriction on Umrah and Haj pilgrims over the age of 65, said Ali Al-Ghamdi, an official at the Haj Ministry.
Advice has been issued to pilgrims above a certain age and to children as part of preventive measures to control the spread of the virus in the Western Province, he said.
“The deadly coronavirus has reduced the number of domestic pilgrims but has had no impact on applications for Haj and Umrah pilgrims coming from abroad,” said Al-Ghamdi.
The Haj Ministry has also not received any inquiries from Haj missions about potential restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus, he said.
Preparations for the upcoming Haj season are in full swing and the process of issuing visas was completed two months ago, Al-Ghamdi said. “The Haj and Interior Ministries are the sole entities authorized to issue advisories on Haj matters.”
Pilgrims arriving from abroad into King Abdulaziz International Airport were not seen wearing face masks, Arab News confirmed. Airport staff also said that hardly anyone was seen wearing face masks on the premises.
“The coronavirus may be a cause for concern for residents within the Kingdom, but not for us,” Abdul Salam Kutty, a pilgrim who recently arrived from Calicut, India, told Arab News.
“We have been reading about the spread of this virus in Jeddah, but this did not deter us from embarking on our pilgrimage,” said Nayeemullah Sharif, another Indian pilgrim who had arrived from Hyderabad.
Samah Al-Ezz, an Egyptian medical practitioner who arrived from Cairo to perform the Umrah, expressed similar views.
“I intend to visit Makkah next week irrespective of the situation,” said Mohammed Sarwar, an Indian expat who lives in Washington D.C.
Airline officials said that business has not been affected and that there have been no flight and hotel cancellations.


Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

Updated 18 June 2018
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Saudi MERS outbreaks killed 23 over four months: WHO

  • The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia
  • The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease

GENEVA: Outbreaks of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) killed 23 people in Saudi Arabia between Jan. 21 and May 31 this year, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The deaths were among 75 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) during the period, the WHO said, and take the total number of deaths from the disease to 790 since it was first diagnosed in humans in 2012.
The latest figures take the number of confirmed cases to 2,220 since September 2012, including 1,844 from Saudi Arabia.
One outbreak in February hit a private hospital in Hafer Albatin region, where the patient passed the disease to three health workers. There was another cluster of six cases in a hospital in Riyadh in the same month, although no health care workers were infected.
Two other clusters affected households in Jeddah and Najran.
MERS-CoV is a member of a virus family ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It appears to have emerged in humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012, although it has been traced in camels, the source of the infection, back to at least 1983.
The disease is hard to spot, partly because it often infects people with an underlying condition such as diabetes, renal failure or chronic lung disease.
But it kills one in three sufferers, and hospital workers are at risk unless extreme caution is taken to identify MERS sufferers early and to protect health care workers from infection via airborne droplets such as from coughs and sneezes.
Susceptible people should avoid contact with suspected cases and with camels, and anyone who has contact with animals should wash their hands before and afterwards, the WHO said. Everyone should avoid drinking raw camel milk or camel urine, or eating undercooked meat.
Three MERS cases have been reported this year outside Saudi Arabia. Oman and the United Arab Emirates each reported a case, while in Malaysia a man fell ill after drinking unpasteurised camel milk during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.