Health Officials Urge Pilgrims to Wear Masks to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

PilgrimsPilgrims in Saudi Arabia have been asked by health officials to wear masks while visiting its holy sites to stop the spread of the MERS coronavirus. Health ministry has issued a list of requirements. Moreover, the ministry has suggested the elderly people or those with chronic disease to postpone their pilgrimage.

According to figures, thirty-eight people succumbed to the virus in Saudi Arabia. During Hajj, millions of Muslims around the world come to Saudi Arabia.

Pilgrims make the journey to Mecca in Saudi Arabia once a year. They pray together before the Kaaba. Muslims also visit the site along with Masjid Al-Nabawi, or Mosque of the Prophet, in Medina at other times of year.

Health officials have asked people to follow personal hygiene standards. They have urged to use a tissue while sneezing and coughing, and get necessary vaccinations.

The Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus was reported to have emerged in the Arabian Peninsula in September 2012. It belongs to a big family of viruses including common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

A total of 80 cases of infection have been confirmed by the World Health Organization. Out of them 44 died worldwide.

Chan, who fought SARS as director of health in Hong Kong a decade ago, "We have learned from SARS: If you limit the population's exposure, the disease will die out on its own".