New Delhi: Saudi Arabia on Saturday recommended those at a high risk of catching swine flu, like children, pregnant women and people suffering from chronic ailments, to avoid Haj pilgrimage and help curb the spread of the pandemic.
"Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, recommends that elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases and children should postpone the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages this year for their own safety," the advisory from Saudi Arabia said.
The country has written to several swine flu-affected countries, including India.
"The Saudi government has advised that pilgrims planning to attend the Hajj must be vaccinated against seasonal flu at least two weeks before travelling to the holy places," the advisory said.
"Passengers are currently screened on arrival at all ports of entry into Saudi Arabia. If a pilgrim is suspected to have influenza A H1N1, he/she will be temporarily quarantined. If (you) test positive, you will be admitted to hospital for isolation," the advisory added.
According to India's health ministry, these pilgrims would be medically examined for the symptoms of influenza A (H1N1) at the point of embarkation, that is at the place where booking of pilgrims takes place in their respective states.
"They will be issued an H1N1 symptom-free certificate in prescribed proforma. Pilgrims need to contact the local health authority or the State Haj Committee for further information," a ministry official said on Saturday.
The official said a provision would made by the state governments at their airports to issue such certificates to outgoing Haj pilgrims.
The official also suggested pilgrims to consult the medical officer in the contingent. "If need be, seek immediate advice from the nearest Saudi medical facility. Anyone who contracts pandemic flu while in Saudi Arabia will be given access free of charge to medication and treatment," the official added.
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