Riyadh, Sep 10 (IANS) The Saudi health ministry has reiterated that the ban on slaughtering camels during Haj would remain in place because of the danger posed by the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, the media reported on Thursday.
Faisal Al-Zahrani, spokesman of the ministry, said the ban covers the entire country during Eid Al-Adha, Arab News reported.
He said Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh had issued an edict instituting the ban to protect pilgrims. It states that people can use cows or sheep.
Camels have been identified as carriers of the MERS virus, which has infected 1,225 people since June 2012 when it was first discovered.
Of the total, 521 victims have died, 633 have recovered and 71 are still under treatment, including 16 new cases in the past four days.
The agriculture ministry said that 3.3 percent or 7,700 out of the 233,000 camels in Saudi Arabia are infected with MERS virus.