Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a national Hajj/Umrah specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of pilgrims, have issued a last minute warning to prospective pilgrims, from the UK and around the world, to safeguard their health against the risk of deadly infectious diseases.
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.
Pilgrims suffering from chronic illnesses (i.e. lungs, heart, kidney or liver diseases, diabetes etc.), children, elderly, pregnant women, and those with immune 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 advised the pilgrims that they need to protect themselves from the sun, dehydration, exhaustion, foot problems, respiratory and bronchial illnesses. Hajj pilgrims on medication must take an adequate supply of medicines with them, accompanied by their doctor’s note describing the medicine and their medical history.
Pilgrims are reminded that it is extremely important to wash hands with soap and water or disinfectant, especially after coughing and sneezing, after using toilets, before handling and consuming food. They should use clean tissues to cover their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze and bin the tissue after use and to avoid hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth as well as wear masks when in crowded places. Maintenance of good personal hygiene is crucial along with avoidance of direct contact with persons who appear ill with cough, sneezing, expectoration, vomiting, or diarrhoea and do not share their personal belongings.
“Take the threat of infectious diseases seriously. If you develop a significant acute respiratory illness with fever, cough or flu-like symptoms, seek medical assistance without any delay. Be safe than sorry,” said the health experts in their joint statement.