WHO: Haj travel ban not even 'under consideration'
The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that there is no travel ban for Saudi Arabia as a result of increasing MERS cases in the country.
“The WHO does not recommend the application of any travel or trade restrictions, including for upcoming pilgrimage travel to Saudi Arabia,” a statement issued by the organization said.
The statement came at the conclusion of a 5-day mission of WHO experts to Saudi Arabia.
Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih urged public cooperation on Wednesday in combatting the MERS coronavirus, which killed two people and infected 10 others on Wednesday, by taking simple precautionary measures against the disease.
Fakeih launched a Kingdom-wide awareness campaign on the coronavirus in Jeddah in cooperation with the WHO.
The two casualties in Jeddah and Madinah were a 68-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman.
A total of 431 people have been infected with MERS, of which 117 fatalities, since September 2012.
Of the 10 cases diagnosed on Wednesday, seven were women. Four of the patients were hospitalized in Riyadh, two in Jeddah, one in Taif, one in Makkah and two in Madinah.
“The government is doing its best to prevent the spread of the MERS coronavirus, which is why we need the help of residents in implementing simple precautionary measures to help curb the disease,” he said.
“The campaign is based on expert medical advice from reputable organizations and health care professionals, whom we would like to thank for their important contributions in implementing these guidelines.”
The minister said the public awareness campaign aims to empower residents with crucial up-to-date information.
The campaign, which will be unveiled over the next few weeks via different platforms, such as videos and infographics on www.moh.gov.sa, will encourage residents to maintain good personal hygiene through frequent hand-washing and sanitizing and to avoid touching the eye, nose and mouth.
Members of the public are also advised to take extra precautions when dealing with raw camel meat.
“Experts advise residents to avoid raw camel meat and liver and unpasteurized camel milk,” he said.
Camel meat, if consumed, should be well cooked.
Acting Health Minister Adel Fakeih has appointed Emad Al-Jahdali as the general manager of the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah, while Hani Jahdar and Mohammed Qaroot have been appointed assistant general managers.
Al-Jahdali is an occupational and environmental medicine consultant physician with a Canadian medical residency training degree from the University of Alberta in Canada.