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No Need For Hajj Pilgrims To Be Screened For MERS, WHO States

“The risk from a new Middle East respiratory virus for millions of Muslims planning to go to the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia is very low and there is no need for pilgrims to be screened, the [WHO] said on Thursday,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 7/25). “Saying the risk to travelers is ‘very low,’ the WHO recommended no travel restrictions or border screening during the Muslim Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages, which are expected to draw millions of people to Saudi Arabia,” CIDRAP News writes, adding, “The recommendations focus on awareness and routine precautions to prevent travel-related infections” (7/25). “Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of the disease with 70 cases and 38 deaths recorded,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog notes, adding, “Transmission of the virus isn’t fully understood, but it is known to spread between humans” (Butler, 7/26). “Despite its high current death rate, the [virus] that emerged in Saudi Arabia last year is unlikely to cause a SARS-like epidemic because it is not spreading as easily, scientists said on Friday,” according to a separate article from Reuters, which notes “SARS spread far more rapidly, infecting more than 8,000 people between November 2002 and July 2003” (Kelland, 7/25).