MERS-CoV: Don’t offer camel farm tours, agencies advised

Dr Subramaniam (right) speaking at the press conference on infection of the MERS-CoV. Hilmi is at left. — Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA: All companies organising umrah (minor haj)  and pilgrimage packages to the Holy Land are advised not to arrange visits to camel farms to prevent infection of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome  Coronavirus(MERS-CoV).

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said visits to these farms may pose a risk of MERS-CoV infection to pilgrims because the respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus was suspected to stem from camels.

“The matter was raised in the Cabinet meeting today (yesterday), where the Tourism and Culture Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Section) were urged to advise travel agencies not to provide tour packages to camel farms.

“The Ministry of Health cannot issue a ban, so I asked for the cooperation of the two ministries so that an announcement can be made and pilgrims notified not to visit camel farms to avoid the MERS-CoV infection,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

According to him, the two ministries responded positively and will take the necessary steps to ensure MERS-CoV infection among umrah as well as Haj pilgrims and visitors can be prevented.

Elaborating, Dr Subramaniam said a Malaysian man who was confirmed to have contracted MERS-CoV has been quarantined at the Sungai Buloh Hospital where his condition was reported to be stable.

He said since Dec 30, his ministry had carried out control and prevention activities, including tracing and contacting 70 people comprising family members, relatives, friends and members of the umrah package group the 55-year-old man was part of.

Checks were also conducted on health personnel who handled his case at a private clinic and at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang as well as passengers seated near him on the return trip to Malaysia on Dec 23, said Dr Subramaniam.

Of the 70 people, nine had mild symptoms and had been placed in an isolation ward and they tested negative for MERS-CoV, while 41 close contacts were placed under home surveillance for two weeks from the last day they had contact with the infected man, he said.

“All the rest whose samples had been taken tested negative,” he added. — Bernama

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