NIH issues advisory on prevention for Hajj pilgrims

MERS Corona virus

Islamabad - National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday issued an advisory for Hajj pilgrims regarding prevention from Middle East Respiratory Virus (Corona) identified in Saudi Arabia, an official said.

The Field Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance Division (FEDSD), NIH issued directions to take precautionary measures to control ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus’ (MERS-CoV) during upcoming Hajj.

According to the advisory, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel corona virus that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

NIH directed to all concerned authorities including Federal and Provincial Ministries of Religious Affairs, to take appropriate measures during Hajj season in order to prevent the spread of diseases.

The advisory also focused that MERS-CoV can spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person, mass gathering events such as the Hajj provide a basis for communicable diseases to spread easily.

Emphasizing the need to have close collaboration on the pattern of Hajj 2017, NIH recommended pilgrims to take other preventive measures also.

Pilgrims with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and immunodeficiency should consult their physicians before travelling to assess whether making the pilgrimage is advisable for them.

Through health education sessions conducted at each Hajji Camp in collaboration with the provincial/area health departments, the departing pilgrims must be informed about the general health precautions to lower the risk of infection in general.

It has been advised for the pilgrims to frequently hand washing with soap and water and if soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The pilgrims are directed to avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth after touching common surfaces/hand shake with ill persons and also avoid close contact with sick people.

Hajjis are also advised to not eat undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and wash fruits and vegetables before eating them with maintaining good personal hygiene.

Unnecessary contact with farm, domestic, and wild animals, especially camels have been advised to avoid while pilgrims developing a significant acute respiratory illness with fever, cough or diarrhoea are advised to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue in the trash after use.

The pilgrims have been also directed to minimize their contact with others to keep from infecting them and returning pilgrims should be advised through a leaflet to seek immediate medical attention if they develop a significant acute respiratory illness with fever and cough during two weeks after their return.

rahul basharat

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