Patients travelling to Saudi Arabia as part of the annual pilgrimage Hajj should be aware of the risks of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Public Health England (PHE) has said.
The risk of infection to UK residents travelling to the Middle East remains very low and PHE, National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and the World Health Organization do not currently advise any travel restrictions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in relation to MERS-CoV.
However, PHE is advising travellers to look out for symptoms such as, fever, coughing, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
If individuals experience these symptoms within 14 days of leaving the Middle East, they should call their GP immediately or NHS 111 and mention their travel history.
‘We strongly advise travellers to avoid contact with camels and consumption of camel products in the Middle East and to practise good hand hygiene,’ said Dr Gavin Dabrera, lead for MERS-CoV at PHE.
‘Pilgrims returning from Hajj and Umrah with symptoms including fever and cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days of leaving the Middle East, should call their GP immediately or NHS 111 and mention their travel history.’
The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, known as the Hajj, is due to take place between 19 to 24 August this year, with many pilgrims travelling from the UK. ‘Our information sheet for pilgrims includes information on health regulations, vaccine requirements and recommendations, and other general health advice for those planning to travel for Hajj and Umrah,’ said Dr Dipti Patel, director of NaTHNaC. ‘Pilgrims are strongly advised to follow our specific guidance about staying safe and healthy when travelling.