Arab health officials have agreed to restrict certain groups from performing the annual Muslim pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia this year amid growing concerns about the H1N1 flu pandemic. Persons aged 65 and more and 12 and less will not be allowed to perform the pilgrimage in the holy cities Mecca and Medina due to the spread of the H1N1 virus - "swine flu", Al Jazeera reported.
Hussein Gezairi, the WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean region said at a news conference that they also decided not to allow people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and liver diseases, as well as obesity.
Abdullah al-Rabeeah, the Saudi health minister, said the decision was taken by the Arab Ministers of Health without pressure from the religious, political and economic representatives, added that a decision was supported by 50 Islamic scholars from different countries.
Rabeeah said the problem will not influence on the economy of Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry of Saudi Arabia announced its forming a scientific committee taking preventive measures against swine flu during the hajj.
The people infected with the virus number 27,737 in 74 countries and 141 of them died, the World Health Organization reported.
The WHO increase a level of the threat for A/H1N1 pandemic from 4 to 5 in a 6-point scale in late April.