British Hajj/Umrah-specific national organisation, Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK, working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims expresses deep concern regarding the spread of Sars-like Coronavirus. According to the latest reports received from Saudi Arabia, five people have died in recent days after contracting this deadly virus.
In February this year, there was a tragic death of a British person who returned from Saudi Arabia. He fell critically ill soon after arriving in the UK due to Coronavirus and subsequently he passed on the infection to his son who also died in the hospital. It was sheer luck that the infected person fell ill straight after landing in the UK and did not go out in the community. Otherwise, there could have been quite serious consequences as this virus is being transferred from human to human.
Every year over 125,000 British nationals travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage. A vast majority of these travellers, who are old, aged, sick and disabled, have always been at high risk of contracting infectious diseases due to their close proximity with millions of people from around the world during the Hajj/Umrah pilgrimage. In the recent past, about 20 British Hajj returnees have tragically died in the UK due to the meningitis outbreak. These tragic deaths due to contracting deadly infectious diseases are clear evidence of the seriousness of addressing the issue.
Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK strongly supports the requirement from the Government of Saudi Arabia that the countries sending pilgrims should implement wide-scale health education programs towards the prevention of infectious diseases including making it compulsory for travellers that they must get recommended inoculation before travelling.