The first batch of pilgrims for this year?s hajj is expected to leave Accra for Saudi Arabia on September 17 while the last batch will leave on September 28.

The National Hajj Committee has stated that it has secured 17 flights from Egypt Air to airlift the pilgrims.

The committee is expecting to airlift about 5,424 prospective pilgrims to perform the hajj rituals.

This year hajj fare is 3,450 dollars or its cedi equivalent.

The package includes accommodation and transport services in Saudi Arabia, flight, food and other services.

Interim Chairman of the National Hajj Secretariat, Ibrahim Abdul-Rauf Tanko made this known to the media at the Hajj village.

According to him, arrangements for this 2013 hajj in Saudi Arabia are almost 60 percent complete.

?On flights arrangements, we have secured 17 aircrafts from Egypt air and we have also made the first installment payment to the airline to airlift the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back home?. He noted.

The chairman said the secretariat is left with about 30 percent of payments for accommodation in Saudia Arabia for pilgrims.

Touching on the outbreak of the SARS-like coronavirus Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Alhaji Tanko noted that the committee has made a request to the Ministry of Health to provide facial masks for the pilgrims to insulate them against the disease.

The request was in line with a directive from the Saudi Authorities to pilgrims to wear the mask at heavily populated places in the country to avoid getting infected with the deadly disease.

Mr Tanko said the NHC will also run series of public education on the signs and symptoms of the disease adding that the various committees have also made the necessary arrangements for the provisions of social amenities for the pilgrims.

The return flights from Jeddah to Accra would begin from October 27 to November 7.



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