Despite MERS fears, 10% rise in pilgrims

Despite MERS fears, 10% rise in pilgrims
Updated 11 June 2014

Despite MERS fears, 10% rise in pilgrims

Despite MERS fears, 10% rise in pilgrims

There is a 10 percent increase in the number of Umrah pilgrims this year, compared to 2013, despite the fears caused by the MERS coronavirus, said Osama Felali, chairman of the Haj and Umrah Committee.
He said Saudi Arabia had not restricted Umrah pilgrims arriving from different countries because of MERS, which has killed nearly 300 people in the Kingdom alone. “We have not heard reports of new MERS cases among the pilgrims,” he pointed out.
More and more pilgrims are arriving from around the world, he said, adding that their numbers would increase during Ramadan when more than three million foreign pilgrims are expected.
Mahmoud Shaukat, a Turkish pilgrim who came for Umrah for the first time, said he was extremely happy to visit the Grand Mosque in Makkah. “I have been dreaming about this moment for several years,” he said adding, “I was not afraid of MERS and it did not stop me from coming to Makkah.”
Khalil Abdul Rahim from Tunisia said he was not worried about being hit by the deadly virus.
“It is not easy to reach the holy places in Makkah because it involves many things including meeting the expenses but I never thought of postponing this Umrah trip due to the MERS scare,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said MERS was under control and no new cases have been reported during the past 24 hours.