Health experts from the Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH), a National Hajj/Umrah specific organisation, have issued a warning to prospective Umrah pilgrims, at the beginning of the new Umrah season, to safeguard their health against the risk of deadly infectious diseases.
The health experts express their grave concern about the report that over 340,000 Hajj pilgrims received medical treatment at various hospitals, primary health care centres and clinics by Saudi health service providers during this year’s Hajj. More than 900 pilgrims lost their lives due to old age complications, chronic diseases, heart and kidney failures etc.
It is highly regrettable that the major factor for the increasing loss of human lives during the time of Hajj is the lack of awareness of health and safety precautions and appropriate educational training, which are vital to perform a safe Hajj.
The huge amount of resources spent by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure the welfare and well-being of pilgrims can be saved if all the attending pilgrims are trained and made aware of preventive measures of health and safety issues in their own countries before leaving for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage. Informed pilgrims will not only be able to ensure their safety and well-being but also they can help protect others around them.
Health experts warn that pilgrims have always been vulnerable and at high risk of contracting the deadly infectious 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. Umrah 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 Umrah pilgrims to take an adequate supply of medicines with them, accompanied by their doctor’s note describing the medicine and their medical history.