Muslims attend a prayer outside the Grand mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Saudi prepared to handle any stampede or disease during Hajj

MAKKAH: Saudi health officials supervision the Hajj pilgrimage later this week say they are prepared to handle any outbreak of disease or a stampede like the one that killed hundreds of worshippers two years ago. Saudi Arabia said that over 1.735 million pilgrims have arrived from abroad for the Hajj pilgrimage. The world’s largest annual crowd of Muslims has in the past seen numerous deadly stampedes and fires, with the system having only limited ability to control the masses. Saudi Arabia takes its standing on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites – Makkah and Madina – and organizing Hajj. Hussein Ghanem, who oversees the health ministry’s Hajj operations, said the authorities are prepared in case of another stampede. “There is an integrated fleet of ambulances often eating outside and sleeping on the ground near the holy sites.Ghanam said the ministry was organized to power communicable diseases like the potentially fatal Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) corona virus, which has been most rife in Saudi Arabia over the past five years.The World Health Organization (WHO) said there were 26 newly reported cases of MERS in Saudi Arabia in July and early August, including six deaths. In addition, more than half a million people in neighboring Yemen have been infected with cholera and 1,975 people died since an epidemic began in April in that country, according to the WHO.

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