Illustration for MERS

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has issued a travel alert to Nigerian pilgrims against the spread of an airborne corona virus and deadly syndrome called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

The travel alert was issued in a statement made available to newsmen by the head of media and public affairs of NAHCON Fatima Usara on Tuesday in Abuja.

Usara said there is no vaccine or definite medication for the disease yet.

The commission, therefore, cautioned pilgrims not to eat half cooked meat especially camel meat nor drink untreated and unheated milk.

“Pilgrims are also advised to immediately report any unusual fever accompanied with cough, shortness of breath and (or) pneumonia to the nearest health facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“They are further being assured that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made adequate provision for medical care of pilgrims from all over the world during the season.

“Similarly, Nigerian medical personnel and drugs are available 24 hours throughout the period of the 2019 Hajj operation in the interest of Nigerian pilgrims,” the statement indicated.

She said the alert was sequel to a World Health Organisation’s recent disclosure in Geneva that 14 cases of the viral infection have been recorded.

She said, the commission therefore advised pilgrims to add their personal safety measures in protecting themselves.

“One of the ways of doing this is by always covering their noses and mouths with surgical masks, especially where there are large congregations of people.

“Proper hygiene must be observed all the time, particularly proper and constant washing of the hands with soap.

“Alternatively, constant use of hand sanitizers is recommended. Doorknobs and other frequently used surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at all times,” she said.

She also advised Pilgrims to avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths with unwashed hands.

“Pilgrims are also warned to specifically avoid coming in contact with animals, especially camels.

“Because the disease is normally passed through close contact with affected persons or animals.

“Pilgrims are advised not to use personal utensils of infected persons or directly take care of such persons whilst one has no medical expertise,” she added.