Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj/Umrah specific organisation, have issued a strong warning that Coronavirus still remains a serious threat to the pilgrims who will start travelling to Saudi Arabia from the end of this month to perform Umrah (lesser pilgrimage). Unlike Hajj, Umrah is performed throughout the year by millions of pilgrims from around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 883 laboratory-confirmed cases of Coronavirus have been reported so far, including at least 319 related deaths. A recent sudden increase in the cases of Coronavirus in Saudi Arabia is a cause for great concern as 38 cases have been reported since 5 September 2014.
Prolonged contact with infected individuals within confined space, during Umrah pilgrimage, facilitates the spread of deadly infectious diseases, which are transmitted through direct person-to-person contact via droplets of nasal or throat secretions as well as blood and body fluids of infected individuals.
Some of the authorities are not taking the issue of the spread of Coronavirus, and other deadly infectious diseases, seriously and appropriate initiatives have not been witnessed to educate the prospective pilgrims about the preventive measures to avoid contracting these diseases. Health experts warn that due to lack of awareness of preventive measures against these infectious diseases, a vast majority of Umrah pilgrims are at a high risk of contracting them.
The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) strongly urges all the relevant authorities that vulnerable Umrah pilgrims must not be deprived off vital life-saving information about the preventive measures and how they should safeguard their health and wellbeing. All efforts should be made to implement the directives issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which member countries are required to raise awareness amongst the prospective pilgrims of the risks of contracting the deadly and lethal infectious diseases, and the measures they should take to protect themselves. This awareness is extremely important not only to protect the pilgrims, but also to eliminate the risk of the spread of these deadly infectious diseases worldwide, once the pilgrims return to their home countries.