Is the Hajj walking into a deadly virus zone?

The annual Moslem pilgrimage begins next month in Saudi Arabia, where a killer virus has emerged. The common cold virus has mutated into highly pathogenic strain causing respiratory and renal failure. In the three reported cases of this unknown virus, two are dead. The other is fighting for his life. But it has already spread. There are more cases.

A sixty-year-old Saudi man is dead, after contracting the until now unknown strain of Novel coronavirus - the virus which causes the common cold but which has evolved into a deadly strain. Three months later, another 49-year-old Qatari man is today on an artificial lung in isolation in the Intensive Care Unit in London's Saint Thomas' Hospital. While the story flies around that there are only two known cases, it now emerges there are six more - a third, a Middle Eastern male who died in the UK with similar SARS-like symptoms (respiratory failure) - and alarmingly, another five cases in Denmark.

Five people in Denmark have presented identical symptoms, all being children under the age of five. One family member visited either Saudi Arabia or Qatar and the Danish health authorities have told the population to go to a doctor for tests if they fall ill after visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Qatar.

A global health warning has been issued by the World Health Organization. Coronavirus is the same family that causes the SARS outbreak in 2002 to 2003, in which around 800 people died.

While the information on the Novel coronavirus is as yet scant, there are at least eight possible cases all with similar symptoms all linked to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Qatar. One month before millions of Moslems travel to the area for their annual pilgrimage - the Hajj, will the world's population be placed at risk by callous authorities which stand back and inform us how the pandemic is progressing, as was the case with A H1N1?

Certainly the pharma companies must be rubbing their hands in glee. Is this the big one since Spanish Flu?


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey