The deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that has infected and killed a number of people in Saudi Arabia has frightened some in Qatar, prompting them not to go to Al Ihsa in Saudi Arabia for Ramadan shopping this year.
Qataris usually go to Al Ihsa before the holy month because of its proximity to Qatar. The markets are also famous for the cheaper rates of several commodities, Al Sharq reported yesterday.
The markets in Al Ihsa are most popular for dates, cardamom, saffron, haris, spices and other such products among many people in the Gulf countries.
“Qataris prefer to go to Al Isa for shopping because it is very close from Qatar. It takes only two hours by road and there are a variety of products at cheaper prices,” said Naser Al Salem.
He said he cancelled the trip to Al Ihsa this year due to the fear of coronavirus that may have also infected food items that he used to buy from the market such dates, rice, cardamom, edible oils and vegetables.
“The detection of fresh cases of corona virus in Al Ihsa frightened me to go there because I know prevention is better than cure,” said Al Salem.
“I used to drive to Al Ihsa for shopping of some food items due to high prices in the local market,” Qasim Al Sharfi said, adding that his forefathers have also travelled to Al Ihsa for buying several commodities in the past.
“The market has enough quantity of food and non-food items that we need therefore, I used to travel there before Ramadan,” Al Sharfi added.
On July 7 Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry said two more people have died of the SARS-like coronavirus MERS, bringing to 38 the number of deaths from the disease inside the country shortly before Ramadan began.
A two-year-old child died in Jeddah and a 53-year-old man died in Eastern Province, where the outbreak has been concentrated, the ministry said in a statement on its website. Four people have died outside the kingdom.
The ministry said another three people had been confirmed as being infected with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), bringing the total number of confirmed cases inside the kingdom to 65 since it was identified a year ago.
Saudi Arabia on Saturday urged elderly and chronically ill Muslims not to perform the Haj pilgrimage, to curb the spread of the coronavirus which has killed 38 in the kingdom.
The Health Ministry issued a set of conditions for people wanting to perform the annual hajj, which this year falls in October, or the year-round Umrah or minor pilgrimage.
They recommend postponing the Umrah and Haj this year “for the elderly and those suffering chronic illnesses, like heart, kidney, respiratory diseases, and diabetes”.
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