Three persons, who showed symptoms, test negative

No confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which causes serious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness, have been detected so far among the Hajj pilgrims returning to Coimbatore from Saudi Arabia.

Three persons from whom samples were taken after they showed symptoms have also tested negative, sources in Department of Public Health Department told The Hindu here on Friday. All the pilgrims from Coimbatore have returned between November 6 and 15.

The samples were tested at the King Institute of Preventive Medicine in Guindy, Chennai. All the three senior citizens, of whom two were women, were likely to have suffered from exhaustion and not due to MERS-CoV infection. Their health had improved shortly after they returned to Coimbatore, the official said.

“All pilgrims undergo health checks while departing from Saudi Arabia besides another screening when they land at various airports across India. If anyone showed symptoms of MERS-CoV, they will be immediately quarantined,” he said.

Even if a person showed only a few symptoms, their details would be communicated to the respective districts for the Public Health Department officials to follow-up. Since MERS-CoV was contagious, extreme precautions would be taken.

The three persons from Coimbatore complained of the symptoms at the screening at the Chennai airport. Health authorities there referred the cases to the officials in Coimbatore. The three reached Coimbatore by train and gave their samples for the test.

Pilgrimage

According to Coimbatore District United Jama-ath, 177 applicants from Coimbatore and Tirupur, along with 34 from the Nilgiris, were among the 3,637 persons from Tamil Nadu to take the pilgrimage this year to Mecca.

The World Health Organisation reports that globally from September 2012, when the first case was detected in Saudi Arabia, to November 2013, a total of 153 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV infection, and 64 deaths had been reported.

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