Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj/Umrah specific organisation, have issued a 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.
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. Elderly, people suffering from chronic diseases, i.e. lungs, heart, kidney, liver, diabetes etc., children, pregnant women, and those with immunity deficiency are specifically at higher risk of catching infectious diseases.
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 infectious diseases can only spread through direct contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person.
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.
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. They should also wash their hands with soap and hot water.
“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.