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Saudi Arabia issues health guidelines for Umrah, Hajj visitors

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, July 7 (KUNA) -- Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health called on people intending to visit holy sites to conduct Umrah or Hajj pilgrimage at Makkah to make sure they comply with necessary health standards ahead of their visit.
These include taking necessary vaccinations against a number of ailments like meningitis and seasonal flu - the latter applying, in particular, to those with heart disease, kidney failure, respiratory or nerve ailments, diabetes, congenital and acquired immunodeficiency disorders and metabolic diseases, along with pregnant women and obese children and those under five.
Those affected with chronic diseases and the elderly were warned against making the trip, and postponing the pilgrimage until being ably fit with regards to their safety.
In reference to the Ebola virus, the ministry said that the denial of travel entry permits for residents of Guinea and Sierra Leone would continue as per World Health Organisation reports that suggest the continued spread of the disease in these two countries.
According to spokesman Dr. Khaled Marghalani, the ministry routinely monitors epidemiological developments for diseases and has a national committee which assesses the spread of diseases worldwide and issues instructions to local bodies on how to address these threats.
This year's pre-conditions oblige those arriving from yellow fever, meningitis and seasonal flu-stricken nations to provide certificates of vaccination from their country of residency, he said.
Those arriving from nations of the African Meningitis Belt - including the Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea - will be also be obliged to receive a preventive vaccine upon entry into Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, all pilgrims have been advised to follow instructions aimed at limiting the spread of the MERS coronavirus and other respiratory ailments, including washing hands with soap or disinfectants, using disposable tissues when sneezing or coughing and getting rid of them after, limiting hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth, avoiding direct contact with those infected and wearing breathing masks in crowded places.
People have also been advised to stay away from camel farms and to avoid touching these animals or drinking their milk - unheated or unpasteurized - or eating their meat uncooked. (end) nh.sd