TEHRAN, June 30 (MNA) -- Saudi Arabian officials may decide to cancel Hajj 2009, the deputy director of the Communicable Diseases Department of the Iranian Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Saudi Arabian Health Ministry said that a number of cases of influenza A have been detected in the country, so its medical experts are mulling over a proposal to cancel this year’s hajj to prevent the spread of the disease, Mahmoud Nabavi added.

 

He went on to say that Saudi Arabian officials have asked World Health Organization experts and specialists from other international institutions to help them determine the status of the disease in the country.

 

But canceling this year’s hajj could be the best strategy, although no final decision has been made so far, Nabavi stated.

 

In addition, the number of umrah (lesser pilgrimage) trips to Saudi Arabia has been reduced due to concern over the spread of swine flu. Malaysia, Egypt, and several other countries have recently reduced the number of pilgrims they are sending to Mecca.

 

The only confirmed cases of swine flu in Saudi Arabia are among foreign travelers, but it will probably spread to the locals very soon, Nabavi added.

 

The hajj season for lunar year 1430 will occur from November 19 to 28, 2009, depending on the sighting of the new moon marking the beginning of the lunar month of Dh’ul Hijjah. The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam.  

 

AA/HG

END

MNA

News Code 34619

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