Precaution measures are being implemented in Thailand’s Deep South against a possible outbreak of the deadly MERS virus, as more than 10,000 Thai Muslim pilgrims plan to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj in September.

The three southernmost provinces are at risk for a MERS outbreak as many members of their community travel to the Middle East for work, tourism and religious rites most of the year.

The local health unit in Songkhla is setting up a special team to monitor those who return from the pilgrimage, sending a medical team to screen passengers arriving at the airport and raising public awareness on the prevention and contraction of the disease.

Narathiwat airport authorities confirmed no passenger traveling through the airport has been found with MERS symptoms, and border patrol has been instructed to monitor visitors traveling from Malaysia.

A separate room will also be set up after Thai Muslims return from Hajj. They will be monitored for 14 days up to a month to make sure they are safe from infection. About 300 Thais will be the first to leave on a charter flight on August 16.-VNA