Beware of Middle East respiratory disease, NACHON warns pilgrims

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has issued a travel advisory in relation to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus disease (MERS-Cov). MERS is a deadly airborne viral infection with no known vaccine or definite medication.

A statement by the commission’s Head Public Affairs, Hajiya Fatima Sanda Usara, said sequel to a World Health Organisation (WHO’s) recent disclosure in Geneva that 14 cases of the viral infection had been recorded, pilgrims are advised to add their personal safety measures in protecting themselves.

The statement said one of the ways of doing this is by always covering their noses and mouths with surgical masks, especially where there are large congregations of people.

“Proper hygiene must be observed all the time, particularly proper and constant washing of the hands with soap. Alternatively, constant use of hand sanitisers is recommended. Doorknobs and other frequently used surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at all times.

“Pilgrims are advised to avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths with unwashed hands. They are warned to avoid coming in contact with animals, camels specifically.

“Because the disease is normally passed through close contact with affected persons or animals, pilgrims are advised not to use personal utensils of infected persons or directly take care of such persons whilst one has no medical expertise,” Sanda said.

The commission cautioned pilgrims not to eat half cooked meat, especially camel meat, nor drink unpasteurised/untreated/unheated milk or use camel urine for any reason as some individuals do.

The pilgrims are also advised to immediately report any unusual fever accompanied with cough, shortness of breath and (or) pneumonia to the nearest health facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

They were further assured that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made adequate provision for medical care of pilgrims from all over the world during the season. Similarly, Nigerian medical personnel and drugs are available 24 hours throughout the 2019 hajj operation in the interest of Nigerian pilgrims.

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