October 1, 2012
CAIRO (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) - Saudi Arabian health authorities said that a newly detected virus does not pose major risks during the Hajj season, local media reported Monday, as the country gears up to receive millions of Muslim pilgrims later this month.
Daily newspaper Okaz quoted health ministry undersecretary Ziyad Maimish as saying that the new type of coronavirus is less dangerous than bird or swine flu, but that health staff at ports and airports were on alert.
Saudi authorities are also assigning 622 additional health staff to Jeddah airport for the duration of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the paper reported.
Over 55,000 oral polio vaccines have been administered to pilgrims, while airlines have been instructed to spray their craft with disinfectants prior to arrival in Saudi Arabia.
The new type of coronavirus was detected recently in a Saudi man and a Qatari who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia, and led to kidney failure.
The World Health Organization has said that the virus does not appear to be very contagious, but that it is continuing to monitor the situation closely.
The 2009 Hajj coincided with the emergence of the deadly H1N1 flu pandemic. London Olympic authorities studied the Saudi response in drawing up their anti-contagion plans for the 2012 summer Olympics.
Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH