Disease warning over Hajj travel

2013-07-17 07:42
An aerial view shows Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage rituals. (Fayez Nureldine, AFP)

An aerial view shows Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque of the holy city of Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage rituals. (Fayez Nureldine, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mecca - Saudi Arabia is asking pilgrims to cover their mouths with a mask while in crowded places - or risk spreading a deadly disease.

CNN Travel reports Muslim pilgrims are being warned about the relatively new Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which has hit Saudi Arabia almost exclusively.

Visits to the holy city of Mecca usually take place during the holy month of Ramadan, which started last week. In four months time millions of Muslim pilgrims will also perform the annual Hajj, with multitudes headed to the same holy places at the same time.  It's a perfect scenario for catching and spreading the disease, according to the state-run SPA news agency.

More than 50% of those diagnosed have died

MERS is caused by the coronavirus and is said to wreak havoc on the respiratory systems of those who contract it. Of the 81 infected worldwide, 45 have died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) said Friday.

Of the total cases, 66 were in Saudi Arabia, where 38 people succumbed to it.

It mainly affects older men, the CDC said. So far, there is little to indicate that it could become the kind of deadly pandemic SARS was, though it is caused by a related virus.

Take precautions while on Hajj

All Muslims must undertake the Hajj journey at least once in their lifetime, and the government is telling them to add some preventative health requirements to their spiritual rituals. People with challenged immune systems should avoid travel to the birthplace of Islam for now, the Saudi Health Ministry said.  This includes people with chronic diseases such as diabetes and those infected with HIV.

Use common sense recipe similar to stopping the spread of a cold:

- Wash hands, especially after coughing and sneezing
- Throw used tissues in the trash
- Don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth while in public places
- Health Ministry advises wear a surgical mask while in crowded locations

Have you been to Mecca recently, tell us about it by emailing Info@news24travel.com or come join our News24 travel community on Facebook.
Read more on:    saudi arabia  |  mecca  |  hajj  |  lifestyle  |  travel international  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside Travel


#FindYourEscape with Traveller24

Your insider guide to exploring South Africa and the world...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.