Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a national Hajj/Umrah specific organization working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, 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 communicable diseases, such as MERS Coronavirus and Meningitis. The threat of lethal infectious disease MERS Coronavirus is causing great concern once again as according to Saudi Health Ministry, 1,171 cases have been reported in Saudi Arabia which includes 502 tragic deaths.
The Hajj pilgrims have always been vulnerable and at high risk of contracting communicable 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.
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 foot 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 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.
Health experts urged that the pilgrims must ensure that barbers use disposable razors to shave as 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.
“Take the threat of these deadly 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”, health experts said in their joint statement.