Hajj Returnees to Be Screened for MERS

Hajj Returnees to Be Screened for MERSHajj Returnees to Be Screened for MERS

Nine daily flights from Tuesday will bring home Iranian pilgrims till October 18. The current year’s hajj season ended September 26.

Returning hajj pilgrims will be thoroughly screened by health teams at 19 airports across the country as a part of the MERS prevention program, the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’ reported.

At present, 200 health teams have been sent to the airports to screen pilgrims as well as other arrivals and those with “suspicious symptoms” will be sent to predetermined hospitals.

As hajj is the largest gathering of people in the world, the risk of transmission of diseases always exists.  The admission of hundreds of Iranian pilgrims to Saudi hospitals following the stampede last Thursday can increase the risk of infection and transmission of diseases, in particular MERS, as Saudi Arabia saw a spurt in the number of MERS cases in recent days. Over 500 people have died in the kingdom since the virus first appeared in 2012.The number of MERS infections has also surged to more than 1170 cases.

“Although MERS patients are hospitalized in specific Saudi hospitals, but we have to take all necessary measures to ensure safe health of Iranians,” said Seyed Ali Mar’ashi, Head of IRCS’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Medical Center.  

In a meeting on Sunday, Health Ministry officials and heads of national emergency centers discussed plans to prepare the national health system to prevent cases of the highly infectious MERS virus and other diseases.

Additionally, the names of pilgrims injured in last week’s stampede at Mina during the ‘Stoning of Devil’ ceremony and earlier in the crane crash at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, who need medical services will be sent to the ministry’s State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The latter will refer them to the medical university hospital nearest to their homes, in order to continue treatment at government expense.