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WHO Urges Hajj Pilgrims To Guard Against MERS

A World Health Organization (WHO) official is urging millions of Muslims making the hajj to guard against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) by paying close attention to hygiene.

Mark Jacobs, WHO's director for communicable diseases in the Western Pacific, said on July 10 that hand washing and keeping away from people coughing are simple ways to prevent the virus's spread.

Jacobs also said there is little danger that infected pilgrims returning home after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca would spark an epidemic of the disease in Asia.

He said MERS appears to be less infectious than originally thought, even though it has already killed 287 people, almost all in the Middle East.

His comments come after the Philippines last week urged people to reconsider going to Mecca until the threat of MERS dissipates.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP