Health officials have advised elderly Muslims not to take part in the annual pilgrimage to Mecca because of the new Sars-like virus. Pregnant women, children under the age of 12 or people who suffer from chronic illnesses should also abstain from performing the Hajj later this year.
The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia said the groups should not participate “for their own safety”.The virus, known as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), has killed half of the people known to be infected.
In May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that MERS-CoV is a ”threat to the entire world”, saying that the disease is ”emerging faster than our understanding”. Latest data from the WHO shows there have been 90 laboratory-confirmed cases including 45 deaths.
Three people have died in the UK as a result of the infection – including one man who died at the end of June.
The Qatari man was being treated in an intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in central London. Hospital officials said that the man, who was 49 when he was admitted, died after his condition deteriorated.
An update on the Saudi Ministry of Health website advises the groups of vulnerable people to postpone performing the Hajj this year.