Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a national Hajj/Umrah specific organization, have issued a stern last minute warning to prospective Hajj pilgrims, from the UK and around the world, to safeguard their health against the risk of deadly infectious diseases, such as Coronavirus, Meningitis, and Ebola virus.
The Hajj pilgrims have always been vulnerable and at high risk of contracting these diseases due to crowded conditions at ceremonies, accommodation sites, and on public transport. These lethal infectious diseases can be transmitted through direct person-to-person contact via droplets of nasal or throat secretions of infected individuals. Close and prolonged contact (e.g. sneezing and coughing on someone or sharing an affected person’s used utensil) facilitates the spread of infection. Hajj pilgrims are reminded that Ebola virus can only spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person and people with Ebola virus are only contagious when they are showing symptoms, such as fever, achiness, sore throat, stomach pain, rash or red eyes.
The health experts also reminded the pilgrims suffering from Diabetes and other chronic diseases with low body immune system about the high risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) due to excessive physical activities being undertaken amongst a large crowded environment. They need to protect themselves from the sun, dehydration; exhaustion, foot problems, respiratory and bronchial illnesses, and they should wear special socks to avoid feet injuries and frictions. Hajj pilgrims on medication should take an adequate supply of medicines with them, accompanied by their doctor’s note describing the medicine and their medical history.
Pilgrims are warned that some barbers around the Holy places pose a risk of spreading diseases, such as Hepatitis and other blood borne pathogens, by using the same razors repeatedly. The health experts urged that the pilgrims must ensure that barbers use disposable razors to shave.
Hajj pilgrims are also reminded to use clean tissues to cover their mouth and nose when they cough and sneeze and bin the tissues after use and also wash their hands with soap and hot water and this good hygiene practice should also be implemented while they are performing the pilgrimage.
The health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) have expressed their grave concern that despite the strong recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), not enough initiatives have been taken by the relevant authorities to raise awareness amongst the prospective pilgrims about these deadly infectious diseases and the preventive measures that need to be taken to contain the spread of these lethal diseases.
“Take the health threat of these infectious diseases seriously and if you develop a significant acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and flu like symptoms seek medical assistance without any delay. Be safe than sorry,” said the health experts in their joint statement.