Haj Pilgrims Should Wear Masks


The new and deadly MERS coronavirus is considered a threat in Saudi Arabia where millions of pilgrims are expected for the annual Haj this month. The Ministry of Health advised people in Mecca and the holy cities to wear masks to prevent a possible infection.

With the time of Haj nearing, more concerns about an epidemic in Saudi Arabia are appearing. This is the country where most cases have been identified since the MERS coronavirus was discovered. The Ministry of Health in the kingdom advised pilgrims to wear protective masks during their stay in the holy cities to minimize the possibility of getting infected. According to specialists, MERS is transmitted through air, from coughing and sneezing. Although the disease is still shrouded in mystery, most experts, including the WHO, say that it most probably spreads by human-to-human contact.

So, what to do to protect yourself? The Saudi Ministry of Health already asked the elderly and people with chronic diseases to postpone their Haj. Most of the MERS infections so far have been in immune-compromised elderly people and the highest death rate is in patients with serious underlying medical conditions. Of course, following basic hygienic and health rules such as washing your hands, using disposable handkerchiefs, using antiseptic frequently may protect you. General food hygiene is also recommended – drinking clean water, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables, and avoiding undercooked meat.

MERS symptoms are similar to the common cold – fever, cough, sneezing and breathing difficulties. So, people shouldn’t panic from an ordinary cough. If the high temperature remains three days after the patient has started taking medications, they should seek medical help. Only laboratory tests can confirm a MERS infection, so taking antibiotics without being diagnosed is pointless.

According to latest data by the World Health Organization, the total number of confirmed cases of MERS coronavirus has reached 130, including 58 deaths. Most of them have been reported in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


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