Flu alert for Bahrain Haj pilgrims
Manama, September 12, 2010
Haj pilgrims from Bahrain, who will begin travelling to Saudi Arabia by road and air in November, are being urged to take precautions to protect them from seasonal viruses.
Bahrain is gearing up to see off nearly 16,000 pilgrims during the upcoming Haj season.
'There are no extra steps being initiated by the Health Ministry as a result of the possible re-emergence of H1N1 swine flu virus,' said ministry public and international relations director Adel Ali Abdulla.
'There are the usual precautions in place, but we are urging pilgrims who fall in the high-risk category to take the H1N1 vaccine, which is now available.'
Abdulla said vaccinations against meningitis, diphtheria and tetanus were also being provided as in previous years.
'We are asking all pilgrims to put a lot of emphasis on hand hygiene because several conditions can be prevented with simple efforts,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
Abdulla said besides the nearly 16,000 pilgrims who will go to Saudi from Bahrain, several thousand more will transit through Bahrain International Airport.
'While there are no extra measures in place at the airport, as was the case at the last pilgrimage when special surveillance cameras had been installed, we are urging people who have flu-like symptoms or are otherwise sick, not to travel,' he said.
Abdulla said among the high-risk categories were the elderly, those suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, sickle cell patients, pregnant women and those with cardiac conditions.
'Those with chronic diseases and expectant women should not perform Haj. It is better if they go on pilgrimage after they are fit,' he said.
Abdulla said Haj contractors had also been asked to meet the immunisation requirements to ensure the health and safety of the pilgrims.
'The pilgrims will be provided with health cards and plastic bracelets carrying their names to certify they meet all health requirements,' he said.
'We are also offering vaccinations to pilgrims' families and all of them will be given a general physical examination to see if they are fit to perform Haj.'-TradeArabia News Service