Virus fears won't stop Hajj pilgrims

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at Jul 10 2014 02:55 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2014 03:47 AM

MANILA - There is no stopping over 6,000 Muslim Filipinos who will leave for Mecca this October to participate in the Hajj despite a warning from the Philippine government against the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Coronavirus (MERS-Cov).

Dimapuno Daturamos Jr., National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) director for external relations, said the commission has made extra preparations to ensure that Filipino pilgrims will be safe from the deadly virus.

Daturamos said the NCMF has already coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) in the screening of pilgrims.

He said in view of the current situation, the NCMF and DOH advised pilgrims who are aged below 5 and above 65 to skip this year's pilgrimage.

Pregnant women, and those with diseases and weak immune system have also been advised not to join this year's pilgrimage.

''Ito ay nasalang na natin dahil sa mga regional offices ng NCMF, mayroon din tayong doctors doon. They are required to present medical certificate indicating they are physically fit to travel,'' Daturamos told radio DZMM.

Daturamos said DOH doctors and nurses will also accompany the pilgrims to ensure that no virus from the returning pilgrims, if any, will spread.

He said quarantine officials here and in Saudi Arabia are also on standby to ensure that pilgrims showing possible signs of infection from the virus are given swift medical attention.

Daturamos said while the NCMF and the Filipino Muslim community respect the DOH advisory, the hajj pilgrimage is very important among Muslims.

He said pilgrims have attended seminars to educate them about the virus – which has already claimed 284 lives in Saudi Arabia - and the safety precautions against it.