Review Mers precautions as pilgrimage season approaches

The Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) has re-emerged in Saudi Arabia, with at least 46 individuals infected and one hospital suspending its operations ("Spike in number of Mers cases in Saudi Arabia"; last Saturday).

The annual haj pilgrimage is taking place soon, and many will congregate in large numbers in Saudi Arabia and interact at close quarters.

In the light of the health risks and exposure to our Muslim citizens undertaking the haj, and the possibility of the virus making its way here, the Muslim community and the authorities should raise this concern and evaluate the precautions taken thus far.

Those returning from the haj need to be briefed regarding the possibility of exposure, and precautionary and preventive steps ought to be taken and observed closely.

Those who are vulnerable and have compromised immunity may need to be counselled, and perhaps even a postponement of their pilgrimage can be discussed.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Review Mers precautions as pilgrimage season approaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe