Morocco advises against hajj due to MERS threat

Morocco's health minister has advised the country's Muslim faithful against making pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia this year, with the deadly MERS virus having killed nearly 300 people there so far.

Last week, the health ministry urged the sick and the frail to postpone any planned pilgrimages until 2015, and circulated among those determined to go information on the from the virus.

Speaking in parliament Tuesday, Lahoucine Louardi appeared to revise his ministry's advice, extending it to all Moroccans planning the hajj this year.

"We advise pilgrims not to travel to the Holy Sites," he said, quoted by the official MAP news agency, saying the decision was taken "after consultations with several parties, in particular the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Arab health ministers."

Mers "is a dangerous disease that kills one in three people infected," he said, adding that there was no antidote for it.

Contacted by AFP, a source at the confirmed the recommendation, while insisting that it did not amount to a ban.

According to official statistics, Morocco has an annual quota for 2014 of 25,600 pilgrims, which is strictly controlled.

Millions of people visit the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia for the hajj, a pilgrimage all Muslims are expected to make at least once if their health and finances permit.

This year it takes place in October.

The lesser umrah pilgrimage may be performed throughout the year.

The desert kingdom has been the country worst affected by MERS, with 284 people killed there since it first emerged in April 2012, and hundreds more infected.

The WHO said Tuesday that, while a surge in MERS cases had receded, the situation remained of concern, "especially given the anticipated increase in travel to Saudi Arabia related to umrah, Ramadan and the hajj."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First MERS death in Algeria

Jun 11, 2014

An Algerian man in his fifties has died of the MERS virus, the first such fatality in the country, the health ministry announced Tuesday.

First MERS infections detected in Algeria

May 31, 2014

Algeria reported its first two cases of the deadly MERS virus on Saturday, both among pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia, where most cases and deaths from the disease have been reported.

Recommended for you

Where Ebola battles are won

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Four hospitals that are home to advanced biocontainment facilities have become America's ground zero in the treatment of Ebola patients.

Depression tied to worse lumbar spine surgery outcomes

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Depressive symptoms are associated with poorer long-term outcome in patients undergoing surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), according to research published in the Oct. 1 issue of The Sp ...

Ebola death toll edging to 4,900 mark: WHO

11 hours ago

The death toll in the world's worst-ever Ebola outbreak has edged closer to 4,900, while almost 10,000 people have now been infected, new figures from the World Health Organization showed Wednesday.

US to track everyone coming from Ebola nations

11 hours ago

U.S. authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the U.S. from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. That includes returning American aid workers, federal health employees ...

User comments