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State Haj Committee warns Haj Pilgrims against MERS CoV

Hyderabad: Citing the information released by the World Health Organization (WHO), the State Haj Committee is warning the Pilgrims, who are planning for Haj this year, against a popular virus known as the MERS CoV, which is transmitted through close contact.

Though the Haj Pilgrims across the country are being vaccinated for diseases such as polio, the WHO says there is no ‘specific treatment’ for this virus which is found in the Middle East.

The MERS CoV. is a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus, which transmits through various modes.

Camel milk is believed to relieve joint pains. Unpasteurized camel milk and improperly cooked camel is also the main reason of the transmission of this virus other than maintaining close contacts. Speaking about this belief, Prof S A Shukoor, Haj Committee’s special officer asks the pilgrims to be aware of the issues this can cause.

“There are some pilgrims who want to consume camel milk in that belief. This is not right. Precautions must be taken before drinking the milk” speaking of the advice received from the Royal Consulate of Saudi Arabia, he said, “The advisory clearly states that pilgrims should not drink unboiled camel milk and not consume improperly cooked camel meat. As is the practice, we are spreading awareness among pilgrims to abide by this advisory. This is in the interest of pilgrims”.

The Haj committee of India has received advisory from the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia stating the issue.

The advisory has issued certain guidelines to avoid this infection, which includes staying away from camels and wearing masks at crowded places, avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose. It also instructs pilgrims to wash hands frequently with soap or antiseptic substances. The use of napkins and their proper disposal after coughing and sneezing has also been advised.

Deputy Consulate general Mohammed Shahid Alam assuring Indians there is no need to panic over this, via email, he said, “As there is no MERS alert in Saudi Arabia, no separate advisory on MERS has been sent to HCOI for Haj 2017. General guidelines for health and hygiene has been given which is available on Haj Committee of India website or can be obtained from them (sic).”

The virus was first recorded in 2012 in Saudi Arabia. Since then, the WHO has recognized some 35 percent diagnosed people did not survive. The symptoms of this virus, according to WHO, are shortness of breath, fever and coughing, etc.