Bahrain issues virus warning for Haj pilgrims
Manama, May 30, 2014
Measures are being drawn up to prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (Mers-CoV) to Bahrain during the Haj later this year, said a report.
Authorities want to minimise the risk of pilgrims travelling through Bahrain from September passing on the potentially killer virus. They also want to reduce the risk for Bahrainis travelling to Makkah, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
A four-member committee, which is part of Bahrain's official Haj medical team, met yesterday to come up with a three-pronged plan to combat the virus.
"The 'three-station' design has precautionary measures to tackle the virus among pilgrims, both Bahrainis and others, travelling to and from Makkah," said Health Ministry Haj medical committee head Dr Ali Al Baqqara, who led the meeting.
"The first phase is the prevention techniques in Bahrain, the second in Makkah and the third is what should be done when pilgrims return from Makkah to Bahrain and then to their onward destinations," Al Baqqara said.
"With no treatment for the virus, the risk is definitely high, especially during the Haj season."
"The elderly and those with chronic diseases are prone to it and need special attention."
"Awareness about the disease and protective procedures to be adopted will be specifically explained to pilgrims when they are in Bahrain."
"The accommodation in Makkah will be monitored by the medical team, while pilgrims will also be educated on how to avoid the infection."
"They will also be trained in hygienic measures to be adopted while they return, as the chance of picking up the infection in Makkah is high."
He said the strategy was based on observations of how the virus had been affecting the region.
"We have been keeping close watch on the situation since the disease emerged and this helped us put the plan in place on the directives of Health Minister Sadiq Al Shehabi," added Dr Al Baqqara.
Bahrain remains on high alert for Mers-CoV, which has claimed more than 100 lives in Saudi Arabia.
People aged over 60 and children are being urged against undertaking the pilgrimage this year due to the risks involved.
The GDN reported yesterday that Health Ministry officials confirmed 10 suspected Mers-CoV cases had tested negative in the last week.
It earlier said that despite treating 400 suspected cases since 2012, none had tested positive.
The World Health Organisation has said it expected the virus to spread to other countries since it was extremely difficult to contain.-TradeArabia News Service