MERS-free Ramadan Umrah season healthy sign for 2013 Haj

MERS-free Ramadan Umrah season healthy sign for 2013 Haj
Updated 27 August 2013

MERS-free Ramadan Umrah season healthy sign for 2013 Haj

MERS-free Ramadan Umrah season healthy sign for 2013 Haj

About five million foreign pilgrims, who came to perform Umrah this year, have left the Kingdom without any cases of the MERS coronavirus infection reported among them, Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said on Tuesday.
“No infections by the MERS coronavirus or any other epidemic diseases have been reported among these pilgrims as well as visitors of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah,” he said, highlighting the success of the preventive health measures taken by his ministry.
The numbers of pilgrims and visitors during Ramadan (and previous months) crossed five million, of whom only 200,000 remain in the Kingdom, the minister said.
He said the ministry’s hospitals in Makkah and Madinah have provided health services to nearly 150,000 pilgrims and visitors during Ramadan.
The virus has killed 46 of the 94 people confirmed infected since September worldwide, most of them in Saudi Arabia.
The exact origins of the virus is a riddle scientists have been working hard to solve in a bid to halt its spread, especially in the lead-up to the annual Haj pilgrimage, which begins on Oct. 13.
Concerns about the virus, for which there is no vaccine, have led Saudi Arabia to restrict visas for the 2013 Haj, which sees millions of Muslims flock to Makkah and Madinah every year.
Dr. Mohammed Badahdah, an internist and assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, emphasized the Saudi government’s efforts to protect the health of millions of pilgrims who visit the Kingdom for Haj and Umrah. He stressed the need for enlightening pilgrims about Haj matters including health issues before their arrival in the Kingdom.
“Many pilgrims come without any knowledge about Haj rituals and how to protect their health during the pilgrimage,” Badahdah told Arab News. “Health is one of the main concerns of pilgrims and the Saudi government takes a lot of measures to protect their health as it considers it as its religious duty,” he added.
He called upon foreign countries and Haj missions to support the Kingdom’s endeavors by educating their pilgrims about Haj and health matters through crash courses, adding that it would have a big impact on the successful management of Haj affairs. “They can do it now easily with the support of modern communication facilities and Saudi Arabia would be more than happy to assist them in this matter,” he said.
Badahdah said the new expansion of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah would double their capacities, enabling millions of faithful to perform their religious duties with comfort.