With swine flu reaching to as many as 33 countries, concerns are growing over the spread of the H1N1 virus during major congregations of people in Umrah and Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimages to Mecca.
Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabli has said if swine flu appeared in Saudi Arabia before the Hajj season, those returning from the pilgrimage will be quarantined.
The minister said that in the current conditions, the threat of swine flu is given to any people’s gathering including Umrah and Hajj.
The Umrah (or the minor pilgrimage) represents a serious problem ahead as its season starts from June 20 to early October and from November one to mid January.
The timings are a cause of concern because the virus may calm down for a while before striking hard in the fall, the Minister was quoted as saying by the Middle East News Agency (Mena).