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Aug 29
Swine flu alert for Haj pilgrims
New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) With around three million Muslims, including over 160,000 Indians, expected to gather in Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage in October, the Saudi government has advised pilgrims to take extra precautions because of the swine flu scare.
Vulnerable groups, like children, people above 65 and those with chronic diseases have been advised not to travel, official sources said.

The Saudi government has agreed to allow 160,491 Indian pilgrims to travel to Mecca and Medina for the annual Haj between Oct 20 and Nov 21, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters Thursday.

As crowded places are not safe for swine flu, those going have been advised to take extra precautions.

The Haj pilgrimage undertaken by Indians is subsidised by the government. Facilitating the Haj pilgrimage cost the Indian government around Rs.600 crore (around $120 million) last year.

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