Saudi Arabia warns Hajj pilgrims about MERS virus

SAFE TRIP. The Saudi Arabian government asked the pilgrims journeying to Mecca to wear masks to prevent catching and spreading Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). AFP PHOTO/FAYEZ NURELDINE
Saudi Arabia warns pilgrims to use masks in crowded places to avoid catching and spreading the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

In four months, millions of Muslims flock to the holy city of Mecca for the annual Hajj. Some of the Muslim faithful visit during Ramadan, which started this week. All Muslims must take the journey to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. The government asks them to take health precautions, like washing hands and wearing masks in crowded places.

Saudi Arabian authorities want to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, caused by a coronavirus that affects the respiratory system.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says of the 81 infected worldwide, 45 have died from the disease. Of the total cases, 66 were in Saudi Arabia, where 38 died. Although the disease is caused by a virus related to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), health experts say there’s little to indicate it could become that kind of deadly pandemic.

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