Wednesday, July 22, 2009

AFP: Stay away from Mecca over swine flu, pilgrims warned

Egypt has become the latest country to warn vulnerable Muslims against pilgrimage to Mecca, after an Egyptian woman back from Saudi Arabia became the first swine flu death in the Middle East and Africa.

Egypt's health ministry 'has warned the elderly, pregnant women, children and those suffering from chronic illness not to perform the hajj or omra pilgrimages,' the official MENA news agency reported late Monday.

As well as the annual hajj, which all Muslims are required to make once in a lifetime if they have the means, the faithful can also make a lesser pilgrimage to the holy places, known as omra, at any time of the year.

Upwards of two million people are expected in Saudi Arabia over the next five months on pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the west of the kingdom.

The ministry 'has asked them to delay taking part so that they are not exposed to the risks... of swine flu,' MENA quoted health ministry official Amr Qandil as saying.

The warning came ahead of a meeting of Arab health ministers in Cairo on Wednesday to coordinate arrangements and precautions to be taken during the pilgrimage season.

Egypt on Sunday reported its first death linked to swine flu after a 25-year-old woman returning from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia died in hospital.

AFP: Stay away from Mecca over swine flu, pilgrims warned

0 reacties: