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Kazakhstanis recommended to postpone Hajjs to Saudi Arabia 01 августа 2014, 20:10

Kazakhstanis are highly recommended to postpone Hajjs to Saudi Arabia amid a deadly virus outbreak.
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Photo courtesy of etoday.ru. Photo courtesy of etoday.ru.

Kazakhstan citizens are highly recommended to postpone their trips, particularly Hajjs, to Saudi Arabia amid a deadly virus outbreak in that region, Tengrinews reports. 

This deadly virus is called Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS). It first manifested itself in April 2012. Since then it spread to several countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Saudi Arabia accounts for a majority of the reported cases.

MERS has killed at least 284 people in Saudi Arabia since it first emerged, and hundreds more have been infected, with 22 countries reporting cases, AFP reports. 

MERS is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that broke out in Asia in 2003, infecting 8,273 people and killing nearly 800.

Like SARS, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature, but MERS differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure. Experts are struggling to understand the disease for which there are currently no vaccines or antiviral treatments.

Many countries now urge their citizens to reconsider their plans to join hajj this year and to postpone it for a while. Kazakhstan is not an exception. 

"It is not that we oppose making a pilgrimage (Hajj), but we need to alert our citizens about the current situation there. Kazakhstan citizens are now highly recommended to avoid travelling to Saudi Arabia and Middle Eastern countries and postpone their trips for a year or so. The World Health Organization does not recognize this outbreak as a quarantine case, but the situation still remains very serious," Kazakhstan's main sanitary inspector and concurrently Chairman of Kazakhstan's Agency for Consumer Protection Zhandarbek Bekshin said at the briefing in Central Communications Service headquarters on Wednesday.

Around 700 cases have already registered, 300 of them were lethal, he said.

Currently, Kazakhstan authorities are stepping up preventive measures. For example, they have intensified control on the country's borders and examined around 600 thousand inbound passengers.

Mr. Bekshin also said that people who were going to make Hajjs were supposed to have a certificate of vaccination. "Generally, Saudi Arabia recommends cancelling their trips to individuals who have a chronic disease, a weakened immune system. Kazakhstan supports this. In addition, people who go for a Hajj to this country must have a certificate that they have been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease," he concluded.

Reporting by Altynai Zhumzhumina, writing by Assel Satubaldina

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