Saudi Arabia tightens controls to prevent MERS, Zika during Haj

Riyadh: The Saudi Arabian Health Ministry will enforce tight border controls to prevent the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Zika virus during the Haj season in September. The ministry will also monitor suspected cases of diseases such as cerebral spinal fever, meningitis, yellow fever and polio among the incoming pilgrims, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. A team of 97 medics, including 18 doctors, has been assigned to monitor incoming pilgrims by examining suspected cases and checking vaccination cards.  Saudi Arabia has made it compulsory for all pilgrims to get vaccinated before granting them permission to perform Haj. The first case of MERS was reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. As of 2015, there were a total of 1,115 cases and 480 fatalities, according to the health ministry.