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With the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Hajj next month, the Indonesia Ministry of Health advises pilgrims need to be aware of the transmission of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV). Pilgrims are encouraged to apply Clean and Healthy Behavior (PHBS) during the pilgrimage.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus
Image/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

”Even though MERS-CoV has not yet become a health emergency, Indonesian pilgrims must remain vigilant about its transmission,” said Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Kunta Wibawa Dasa Nugraha.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is an illness caused by a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Most MERS patients developed severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died.

MERS-CoV, like other coronaviruses, likely spreads from an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as through coughing.

Secretary General Kunta said that so far there is no specific vaccine for MERS-CoV to prevent infection, therefore PHBS is still effective in preventing its transmission.

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Pilgrims are expected to diligently wash their hands with soap and running water or with a disinfectant. Apart from that, it is also important to wear a mask during activities, especially in crowds and cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough.
Furthermore, if pilgrims have health problems immediately consult a health worker.

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“We hope that the pilgrims will continue to implement health protocols, maintain their body condition by getting enough rest and eating nutritious food. If the body is healthy, the pilgrimage will run smoothly,” said Secretary General Kunta.

In line with MERS-CoV precautions, pilgrims also need to be aware of COVID-19. Even though COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, new cases of COVID-19 are still emerging today.

Therefore, pilgrims are encouraged to complete the COVID-19 vaccination. Full doses of vaccination are very important in breaking the chain of transmission of Covid-19.