World Bulletin / News Desk
On Thursday, the large Muslim minority in the Philippines was told to reconsider plans of joining the pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia this year due to a deadly virus outbreak there.
Health department spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy said that about 6,500 Filipinos who are set to join the annual Hajj pilgrimage in October are being urged to go next year instead, when the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is expected to be under control.
“We know it’s a religious custom, but it is also our duty to provide health advisories,” Lee Suy told AFP.
“It’s an appeal for them to delay the trip if possible due to the MERS virus. If possible, they should go next year.”
Western Saudi Arabia is the area worst hit by the disease; it’s also where pilgrims will be performing Hajj in October.
The World Health Organization said last month that the surge in MERS cases has receded, but countries must maintain vigilance for the Muslim pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.
Since MERS has first emerged in April 2012, 284 people have died along with hundreds more infected and 22 countries having reported cases.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, at least two of the dead in Saudi Arabia are Filipinos.
Lee Suy said that the government consulted Muslim government agencies as well as community leaders before issuing the advisory.
Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2014, 14:24