Hajj 2015: Saudi Arabia bans camel meat

The Saudi Arabian Government has restored its ban on the slaughtering of camels during Hajj as part of efforts to stop the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) disease.

About 48,099 out of the 76,000 Nigerians pilgrims billed for the 2015 hajj have been transported by the Nigerian Government to Saudi Arabia.

The remaining 28,000 pilgrims, according to the commission, will arrive the country before Sept. 17 deadline set by Saudi Arabian government.

Already, the Nigerian Government advised the pilgrims not to eat camel meat to avoid infection of the disease.

The ban will remain in place with no exceptions because of the danger posed by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, said Faisal Al-Zahrani, spokesman for the Saudi government.

He said the ban covers the entire Kingdom during Eid Al-Adha.

It also includes the Burmese community in Makkah, whose members traditionally sacrifice camels.

MERS virus has infected 1,225 people in the kingdom since June 2012 when it was first discovered by scientists. Camel is one of the carriers of the deadly virus.

A total of 521 victims died of the disease, 633 recovered, 71 including 16 new cases discovered in the past four days were still receiving treatment.

The Ministry of Agriculture earlier said that 3.3 per cent, or 7,700 out of the 233,000 camels in the Kingdom, were infected with MERS virus.

The Coordinator, Madinah Operations, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Bello Tambuwal, told journalists that the commission had established two clinics in Madinah to treat any ailment or infection.

Tambuwal said the commission had also stocked the medical facilities with drugs and experts were assigned to man them, adding that the clinic would operate 24 hours.

Similarly, Ibrahim Kana, the Head of Medical team, 2015 Hajj, said in Abuja that MERS Virus could only be transmitted by animals to man.
Kana, therefore, advised pilgrims not to eat camel meat, adding, “the pilgrims can eat chicken which is very safe for consumption’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following this development, Nigerian pilgrims in Madinah have stopped patronising restaurants and other eateries as part of measures to avoid the disease.

“It is safer for us to avoid such places as we are not sure of the meat being served at restaurants,’’ a pilgrim from Bauchi State, Ibrahim Yusuf, said.

Mr. Yusuf said he would also help to educate pilgrims from Bauchi to avoid camel meat as many were not aware of the disease.

(NAN)

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