No stopping Muslims from going on hajj

By Apple Ta-as, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag |July 06,2014 - 08:17 AM

MUSLIMS from Cebu and Central Visayas can still go on their annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos-Visayas (NCMF-7) and the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) said they will not prevent Muslims who will join the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia despite the increasing incidence of Middle East respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia.

NCMF-7 Director Malo Manonggiri said they can only give tips on how to avoid contracting the virus.

Reynan Cimafranca, Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU-7) chief, said Muslim pilgrims will just have to be extra vigilant.

MERS-CoV is a deadly virus related to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and diarrhea.

Manonggiri said there will be more than 50 Muslims from the Visayas who will join this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Visayas pilgrims are expected to fly to Saudi Arabia this September.

According to the World Health Organization, there are already 824 confirmed MERS cases as of July 2 including at least 286 related deaths. The virus is believed to be acquired through contact with camels. Most cases were recorded in Saudi Arabia.

Hajj is the largest yearly gathering of Muslims around the world. It is an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and one of its five pillars, a religious duty that must be carried out by a Muslim at least once in his or her lifetime.

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