NIH issues advisory on MERS-CoV during Hajj season

SMS service launched to check HGOs authenticity

The Field Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Division (FEDSD), National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday issued an advisory regarding prevention and control of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) during upcoming Hajj season.
Through this advisory, the NIH has directed all authorities concerned including federal and provincial ministries of religious affairs to take appropriate measures during Hajj season in order to prevent the spread of diseases.
According to the advisory, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
The advisory also focused that MERS-CoV can spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person or mass gathering events which provide a basis for communicable diseases to spread easily.
It said in the wake of incidence of MERS-CoV cases in Saudi Arabia, its travel associated international spread and the upcoming Hajj seasons, it is imperative to institute effective prevention and control measures among Pakistani pilgrims.
Emphasizing the need to have close collaboration on the pattern of Hajj 2017, the NIH recommended various actions. The institute recommended that pilgrims with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and immunodeficiency should consult their physicians before travelling to assess whether making the pilgrimage is advisable for them.
It recommended that through health education sessions conducted at each Hajji camp in collaboration with the provincial or Area Health Departments, the departing pilgrims must be informed about the general health precautions to lower the risk of infection in general.
Meanwhile, it is reported that a short message service (SMS) 8331 has been launched by Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to help preventing private Hajj scheme pilgrims from any swindling or fraud. According to an official, the main aim of starting SMS service was to help preventing pilgrims from any deception, besides saving them from factious companies.
Elaborating about details of sending message to 8331, he said an intending pilgrim, desiring to perform the sacred religious ceremony through Hajj Group Organiser (HGO) should send the first four digits of his HGO’s enrolment number from his mobile phone to 8331 to check its authenticity.
The pilgrim would promptly receive a reply, containing details about the enrolment status of HGO, name of its chief executive, its allotted quota and address.
Furthermore, quota status of HGO could also be confirmed from ministry’s relevant department by contacting the Ministry on phone no 051-9207519; 051-9205212; 051-9205427.
The ministry has warned the intending pilgrim to avoid inking agreement with any HGO or travel agent without checking its enrolment status of allotted Hajj quota, he added.—APP

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