No far in the past, Saudi Arabia made it mandatory for people coming from certain third-world countries – like Pakistan – to be administered oral polio vaccine upon their arrival in the country regardless of their age or immunity level.
Muslims from Pakistan who frequent Saudi Arabia for observing the religious obligation of hajj (pilgrimage), majority of whom are not well-educated, didn’t seem to question it. They seem to have silently accepted it. In partnership with the WHO, the Indian government recently imposed a similar rule for Pakistanis and people from a few other third-world countries traveling to India. But what about Saudi Arabia’s “own” infections?
Latest in the news is the finding is that the MERS virus, far deadlier than poliovirus, has been infecting the people in the country for at least 20 years. Not only has it killed close to 80 people in the kingdom but the infection has also been exported to Europe and Africa. The source of the virus, related to the deadly SARS virus, is now being blamed on the animals like camels in the country, though researchers admit they don’t know exactly what the situation is like.
Regardless of the cause of the virus, the question that now rises is whether India, Pakistan, and other counties should require all Saudi Arabians and also those non-Saudi nationals working in or visiting the country to undergo medical testing for the potential infection. If health really is the concern here, then this requirement is just what the recent research indicates; but if it’s all a matter of master versus slave political identity, then no such question will be raised by the fear-mongers who have been crying “Polio!” out too much everywhere.
And of course, is the Word Health Organization (WHO) aware of the deadly MERS virus? If so, it shouldn’t shrink from launching a campaign to stop MERS from spreading to countries – that is if it doesn’t want it to spread.