Haj pilgrims set to leave after H1N1 clearance

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Haj Piligrimage - Mecca
New Delhi, Oct 20: After getting a 'free-from-swine flu-symptoms' medical certificate, first batch of Haj Pilgrims are set to leave to Mecca on Tuesday, Oct 20.

The pilgrims were made to go through a thorough check-up for any flu like symptoms after the Saudi Arabian government made it mandatory for all pilgrims to produce a certificate from their respective countries stating that the pilgrim is not infected with the H1N1 virus.

Around 4,000 pilgrims are expected to leave from Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Srinagar and Kolkata in the first phase, while a total of 1.64 lakh pilgrims are expected to take the annual pilgrimage in 2009.

After Saudi Arabia asked the Indian Health Ministry to only let those free from H1N1 to travel to Mecca, the union ministry asked the states to check the pilgrims for any Swine flu-like symptoms and then give them clearance to travel. The pilgrims will once again be examined in the Delhi Airport.

Besides this, the health ministry has also directed the respective authorities to administer the pilgrims with Tamiflu before they travel along with meningococcal meningitis vaccine. Apart from this, the pilgrims have been advised to refrain from shaking hands, hugging, spitting in public and using medicines without prescription.

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