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MENAFN - Arab News - 13/10/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The health status of Haj pilgrims is good and there are no epidemic diseases that should worry them, according to the Ministry of Health.

The Health Ministry also announced yesterday that the coronavirus, a potentially deadly virus recently discovered in Saudi Arabia, poses no danger to the pilgrims.

"We have not come across any incidence of epidemic diseases and we have taken all precautions to prevent any outbreak of infectious diseases including the coronavirus," Undersecretary to the Ministry of Health for Public Health Ziad Al-Memish told Arab News yesterday.

Al-Memish said that all the 16 entry points of the Kingdom have been alerted and health officials have been carefully monitoring the pilgrims for any infections.

However, he added, people should take extra precautions against coronavirus. The virus was diagnosed in three people, two of whom died.
"There is no cause for alarm about the coronavirus," said Al-Memish. "However, people should be aware of its presence and they should take preventive measures to keep the disease away."

Coronaviruses are considered to be one of the common etiological agents of the common cold. The official said coronaviruses are well known and most patients recover completely with no complications after receiving the needed supportive therapy. He pointed out that 95 percent of patients recover quickly without problems.

He advised people to contact their doctors if the symptoms continue for more than two days. Such patients should take Vitamin C as a remedial measure. The symptoms of the virus include runny nose, general feeling of illness, mild sore throat, cough, headache, low fever and chills.It can also cause respiratory, intestinal and neurological illness.

The official said people should be careful when they mingle in mass gathering. "It is advisable to wear masks in crowded places and change them frequently," he said , adding that they also should pay special attention to personal hygiene, and hand cleansing. Covering the mouth and nose while sneezing would help prevent the spread of infection.

Al-Memish urged pilgrims to take necessary precautions and vaccines recommended by the government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed all its foreign missions abroad to issue entry visas to the Kingdom provided the pilgrims comply with the quarantine regulations of the country.

Prior to the commencement of the Haj season, the Ministry sent out circulars to all its embassies abroad indicating the quarantine requirements in the respective countries for the issuance of the pilgrim visa.

This year, the Kingdom has focused on illnesses such as yellow fever, meningitis, seasonal influenza, polio and food poisoning. The stipulated vaccines should be given 10 days before the date of departure for the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

A spokesman from the ministry said: "We have prescribed some vaccines considering the incidence of the disease in some countries." He added that the ships and aircraft carrying pilgrims have been requested to produce a certificate that the carriers are free of mosquitoes.

He said the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the situation locally, regionally and globally in close coordination with the departments concerned and the international health authorities.


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